FILM: Matilda

Feb. 17th, 2019 09:33 am
naraht: (art-Icon)
[personal profile] naraht
This is the story of the soon-to-be Tsar Nicholas II's affair with the Mariinsky ballerina Matilda Kschessinska. Obviously my interest in ballet and my upcoming trip to Saint Petersburg meant that I felt at least mildly obliged to check it out. In addition, it was wildly controversial in Russia due to its portrayal of Nicholas II as very human when he's now a saint.

In all honesty I've only watched a third of it, and I doubt I'll watch the rest. It's supremely cheesy, although you have to admit that the costumes are great.

It was apparently made in collaboration with the Mariinsky, which gave me hope, but let me be supremely picky and complain that they clearly made no effort to ensure that the dancing was historically accurate for 1890. Way too extreme in the extensions. Since they cast non-dancers (there are doubles for the dancing scenes), at least their body types are a little more 1890s-adjacent.

(If you have historically-informed ballet performance needs, the ROH has you covered.)

I have to say it was worth watching purely for this exchange about the business model of a cultural organisation in Tsarist Russia...

Matilda: Why all these photographs of the ballerinas? This isn't a brothel.
Artistic Director(?): No, it's far better. Brothels don't get state subsidy.

UK people: mark your calendars

Feb. 17th, 2019 08:44 am
rydra_wong: The BBC's error 500 page, showing the test card clown surrounded by flames. (error fire clown)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
23rd March -- People's Vote march

They've not yet finished their accessibility guide but there's going to be a short route option:

And they need volunteers, if anyone wants to be a marshal.

There might even be a plan:

The Guardian: Remainers plan mass march and key vote in last days before Brexit: Cross-party alliance aims to build pressure on MPs in the run-up to 29 March

Anyway, whether this is a turning point or the last stand before the zombie apocalypse dystopia: time to work on our placards.
sovay: (What the hell ass balls?!)
[personal profile] sovay
With so many pre-Code movies, it can be difficult not to feel that they come to us from some alternate history than the one we were transmitted by Code-compliant Hollywood, so much more progressive and politically engaged that the trick is remembering it's our own hidden history, as real and important as the censorship that squashed all that bracing skepticism and representation into ticky-tacky halfway through 1934.

Gabriel Over the White House (1933) also comes from our own hidden history, unfortunately. It would be much more comfortable to blame it on the Mirror Universe.

In short and without exaggeration, Gabriel Over the White House is the single most fascist film I have seen from a Hollywood studio. Co-produced at MGM by Walter Wanger and especially William Randolph Hearst, it refined a near-future British political melodrama into a ripped-from-the-headlines call for an American strongman, as authoritarian as anything out of Europe and anointed in the line of Lincoln. The fantasy begins with the inauguration of President Judson "Jud" Hammond (Walter Huston), a tall stern-profiled man quickly revealed as the kind of fatuous glad-hander who gives lame ducks a bad name. Jovially reassured by one of the senators who gerrymandered his path to the White House that "by the time they"—the American people—"realize you're not going to keep them"—his campaign promises—"your term'll be over," he wastes no time installing his longtime mistress as his "confidential secretary," distributing ambassadorships and cabinet appointments among his cronies, and reeling off optimistic platitudes to the press corps while simultaneously dismissing nationwide unemployment and organized crime as "local problems." He signs whatever bills his party passes across his desk and looks set to embarrass America on the world stage with such piercing questions as "Say, where is Siam?" The respect he holds for his office can be gauged by the jokey glee with which he uses the very quill with which Lincoln penned the Emancipation Proclamation to sign off on a job of infrastructure graft in Puerto Rico. And then this booby-in-chief gets into a joy-riding road accident and is left in a coma, sinking fast while the White House frantically stalls; the doctors somberly declare the end "merely a matter of hours . . . he's beyond any human help," but as they leave the room a mysterious breeze troubles the curtain, a light from nowhere brightens on the vacant form, and President Hammond rises from his deathbed a messianic visionary, no longer as corrupt as Warren G. Harding, as ineffectual as Herbert Hoover, or as incapacitated as Woodrow Wilson but "a gaunt grey ghost with burning eyes that seem to see right down into you" who swings into nation-saving action as decisively as Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Or Hitler. About two-thirds Hitler and one-third FDR if you ask me. I'm all for financial relief and reform, but nativist star chambers give me cold feet.

To a certain degree, the ideological disorder of Gabriel Over the White House offers a litmus test for the viewer's own politics: which of Hammond's extraordinary actions seem humane and justified and which start you wondering if William Dudley Pelley had a hand in the script? Allowing for a certain steely-eyed rigidity of affect, the newly inspired president's initial clash with his administration is downright sympathetic. In the summer of 1932, Hoover had disastrously mobilized the U.S. Army against the "Bonus Army," a thousands-strong shanty town of disenfranchised veterans and their families peacefully protesting in Anacostia Park. Encouraged by his cabinet of hacks to dispense similar treatment to an "Army of the Unemployed," Hammond instead declares his newfound allegiance to country over party, "Gentlemen, I refuse to call out the Army against the people of the United States," before visiting the protesters' camp in Baltimore to offer each man his personal assurance of "necessary work waiting to be done" with an "Army of Construction" that sounds remarkably like the Works Projects Administration. When Congress balks at supplying the $4 billion budget, the unstoppable Hammond proposes to dissolve Congress with a declaration of national emergency; when Congress resists being dissolved, he invokes martial law. A stunned edition of the Washington Herald reveals the fate of the legislative branch: "Adjourns by Overwhelming Vote – – – Hammond Dictator!" Now, with all that pusillanimous bureaucratic deadweight out of the way, the great man can really get things done. It is no small factor in the film's mirror-queasiness that several of them are things which an American president, scant weeks after production wrapped on Gabriel, would actually do. Though Hammond's radio presence is a little more stentorian than a fireside chat, the emergency initiatives he announces to the "overwhelming support" of the American public fall right in line with the radical common sense of the New Deal, prioritizing the stabilizing of banks and the protection of homes and farms from foreclosure; he just includes the repeal of Prohibition within his first hundred days where FDR would leave it till the end of the year. It's his next few directives that take his dictatorship from turbo-charged president-elect to something more consistent with other totalitarian regimes rising around the world in the spring of 1933. The film expects us to cheer it all alike.

Whether through careful study or parallel evolution, the fascist rhetoric of this film is spot-on. It's got the bits of truth that make the lies go down like velvet, the condemnation of broken-down society and the powerful nostalgic appeal to some lost integrity reclaimable in the right hands. "A plant cannot be made to grow by watering the top alone and letting the roots go dry," Hammond warns Congress in a timely condemnation of trickle-down economics before turning the metaphor on his audience. "The people of this country are the roots of the nation and the sturdy trunk and the branches too . . . You've closed your ears to the appeals of the people. You've been traitors to the concepts of democracy on which this government was founded. I believe in democracy as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln believed in democracy, and if what I plan to do in the name of the people makes me a dictator, then it is a dictatorship based on Jefferson's definition of democracy—a government for the greatest good of the greatest number!" That's American authoritarianism as good as anything I've heard in the last few years. By his appeals to the unassailable patriotism of the Founding Fathers, his populist reverence and his denunciation of the nation's lawmakers as traitorous parasites, we are encouraged to view Hammond's seizure of power as an exercise in real democracy, a return to the honest, direct truth of America over the self-serving shell game of big government that merely bamboozles American citizens out of their rights. It's familiar, inflammatory, and seductive. What audience exhausted by the ever-deepening Depression and fed up with the incompetent indifference of the Hoover administration wouldn't agree? The plot feels like the same kind of persuasive buy-in. Hammond handled the Bonus Army better than Hoover, so we trust him; he's handling the Depression just as well as FDR, so we trust him again; and therefore when he decides to junk the judiciary along with the legislature and turn over the powers of judge, jury, and executioner to his paramilitary secret police, shouldn't we trust him still? He's only doing what's best for America. Who gets to be part of America, of course, is especially important in times like these—all fascist ideologies must have a scapegoat and foreigners are the best you can get. Hammond finds his in the racketeers flourishing under Prohibition. Forget all-American Cagney; built up by Hammond's speeches as "the greatest enemy of law and order America has ever known . . . a malignant cancerous growth eating at the spiritual health of the American people . . . arch-enemies of these United States . . . the enemies of every honest citizen, the enemies of our nation," the gangsters of Gabriel Over the White House are an explicitly foreign body headed and personified by C. Henry Gordon's Nick Diamond, a sallow-eyed, smarmily dapper, still-accented "immigrant boy who became the most famous man in America," as if organized crime is never homegrown, as if there's no other kind of crime in America. Advised by the President to deport himself and leave the liquor trade to the U.S. government, Diamond retaliates with a drive-by shooting of the White House and Hammond immediately calls out the newly created "Federal Police." At this point I confess the film starts to assume a slightly farcical quality for me, except it's so humorlessly earnest it's scary. The criminals have Tommy guns; the Federal Police have tank-mounted rocket launchers. Diamond and his organization never see the inside of a courtroom which they know how to buy their way out of; they are dragged off to a dramatically lit bunker and court-martialed by a military tribunal presided over by the young chief of the Federal Police. "We have in the White House a man who has enabled us to cut the red tape of legal procedures and get back to first principles—an eye for an eye, Nick Diamond," he pronounces with satisfaction, "a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life." The gangsters are summarily executed by firing squad as the shadow of the Statue of Liberty looks on. By the time the President is threatening to unleash an air war of "invisible poison gases, inconceivably devastating explosives, annihilating death rays" on the other nations of the world unless they pay America's debts and sign the "Washington Covenant" of universal disarmament and peace, I can see the biplanes and the tall silk hats perfectly well, but I still have the anachronistic feeling I'm watching some kind of balls-out Reaganite fantasia of American totalitarianism, under God. Or, you know, Fox News.

You were wondering about the title? It's the insight of Pendie Molloy (Karen Morley), the President's former mistress, now chaste helpmeet; seeing him wake so suddenly full of vital and resolute purpose and yet strangely remote from sentiment or desire, she becomes convinced that he's inhabited by some presence beyond his own will, "a simple, honest . . . divine madness." Eventually she puts a name to it. "I'm not a very religious person, Beek, but does it seem too fanciful to believe that God might have sent the Angel Gabriel to do for Jud Hammond what he did for Daniel?" Her interlocutor is Hartley Beekman (Franchot Tone), the amiable, slightly crooked presidential secretary who in keeping with the salvation tone of this whole project will reform into Hammond's incorruptible right-hand enforcer, not to mention Pendie's lawfully wedded husband; at the moment he's just a staffer not up on his Bible. "Gabriel? I thought he was a messenger of wrath." Poetically grave as a magdalene, Pendie corrects him, "Not always. To some, he was the angel of revelations, sent as a messenger from God to men." Now we know the identity of the breeze, the light. Now I try not to fall down a hole of eschatology, because the allusion automatically figures America as the new Jerusalem, decreed seventy weeks to mend her transgressions and bring in everlasting righteousness. In concert with the politics described above, it means that this film asserts that God has sent America a fascist savior against whose smashing of democratic idols only the foolish and the wicked would stand—I'm astonished it has not been reclaimed and celebrated by the Evangelical right, unless the left-wing whiff of FDR is scaring them off. In fairness to the filmmakers, I feel this assertion may have dovetailed accidentally from the source mythologies of Christianity and American exceptionalism, but at this particular world-historical moment it still jumps out at me a mile. There's a lot in this story that suggests its authors, whether credited screenwriter Carey Wilson or Hearst himself, did not think maybe as much as they should have about their premises. As soon as Hammond finishes signing the Washington Covenant with Chekhov's Lincoln quill, he collapses insensible—he's dying again, the spirit of Gabriel departing now that its work is done. He regains consciousness just long enough to be assured by Pendie that he's "proved himself one of the greatest men who ever lived" before he expires as peacefully as he should have all those car-crashed weeks ago, the light fading from his face as the divine afflatus ruffles the curtain one last time. I don't know how you feel about the reveal that instead of a wastrel soul redeemed and energized by divine inspiration, we have been watching a comatose body with an angel of wrath and revelation inside it, but I normally look to horror fiction for that sort of thing. I have similar reservations about the way the camera returns meaningfully to a marble bust of Lincoln and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" rises over the soundtrack at spiritual moments; I fear they are intended not just to confer the legitimacy of our sixteenth president on his fictional thirty-second successor but to imply that Lincoln himself was a vessel of divine possession. That just seems like an insult to Lincoln. Lastly, while I understand that the U.S. was a lot more naïve about authoritarian regimes in 1933, I am amazed at the film's apparent confidence that the institutions of American government will just pick up where Hammond-Gabriel left them—I think it must have envisioned its dictatorship on the idealized Roman model of extraordinary powers of limited scope and duration, whereas I want to know if Beek will inherit the one-man rule of America and if we're going to have proscriptions by Christmas.

If, out of civic-mindedness or curiosity, you are thinking of throwing yourself on the grenade of this movie, I should warn you that in addition to being probably evil, it's kind of bad. I've been fascinated by it ever since I caught it last spring on TCM, but that's an intellectual reaction with inclusions of emotional revulsion: I don't actually recommend it as art. It suffers from the common propaganda problem of resembling a set text more than an entertainment; its characters are strawmen and its tone suggests a black comedy whose sense of irony has been laparoscopically removed. Walter Huston actually gives a committed and flexible performance as both the good-time party hack and the sacred monster who replaces him, but Franchot Tone and Karen Morley could be replaced with lobby cards of themselves at no cost to the production and I have to look at IMDb to remember that there are any other human actors in it at all. Nonetheless, it exists and we might as well acknowledge it. It's an incredible document and a shivery reminder of just how plausible and attractive fascism could look to a disillusioned, frightened America. Well, we figured it out again. Have a nice Presidents' Day! This regime brought to you by my inspirational backers at Patreon.

"Enthusiastic consent"

Feb. 17th, 2019 02:11 am
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (books)
[personal profile] rosefox
Tonight a book on my shelf caught my eye, so I read it.

The book was Double Trouble by Carol Morse, a 1964 teen comedy that I inherited from my mother—though she was in her 20s when it came out, so I'm not sure how she ended up owning it or passing it along to me. At some point I misplaced her copy or gave it away, thinking I wouldn't miss it, and then I missed it; after years of searching—do you know how many books are called Double Trouble?—I finally found it on AbeBooks a couple of months ago and gladly snatched it up. It's about boy-crazy twin girls learning how to be their own people and have their own feelings and interests instead of doing everything together. They live in a generic small American town that out-Pleasantvilles Pleasantville, and their lives are wholly unlike anything I have ever known. I first read it with absolute fascination in the 1980s, feeling as though I were doing research on a foreign country. It seems even more alien now. (Though this time around I spotted the lesbian, English teacher Miss Winifred Lawrence, who never felt like herself until she went to an all-girls school where people started calling her Larry. She's also tough as a teacher but nice once you get to know her, and the narrative goes out of its way to establish her as an outdoorsy, sturdy world traveler. Mm-hmm. She felt familiar, an un-strange person in their strange self-contained land.)

There was no purpose to me reading it, except that I was glad to own it again and wanted to see whether it still gave me that feeling of fascinated curiosity, which it does.

I hadn't realized how much the notion of a to-read pile/shelf/list was pinning me down. I feel free.
kore: (Person of Interest - Sameen)
[personal profile] kore
"No Mercy" by Heather Peace, via [personal profile] aurumcalendula's sizzling multifandom F/F vid

....totally fair

(Not unrelatedly, someone on [community profile] spacefungusparty compared Michael Burnham and Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius to Sydney Bristow and Irina Derevko and I LOVE IT)

Femslash February Rec

Feb. 16th, 2019 10:04 pm
violsva: Team Rocket cheering (yay)
[personal profile] violsva
So [personal profile] consultingpiskies and I are watching the new Carmen Sandiego, and EVERYONE ELSE SHOULD TOO.

Passing observations:

Episode 7, which we just finished, is so femslashy. omg.

The Chief of ACME is Nick Fury's sister. That's not a headcanon, that's just fact. I bet their holiday dinners are full of shoptalk and griping about their subordinates.

I am a nerd, but I love the little totally-natural-dialogue teaching-kids-geography digressions. They're adorable.

However, the theme music is wrong.


Feb. 16th, 2019 07:31 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
[personal profile] stoutfellow
OK, here's the way I think about quadrilaterals: every quadrilateral arises by perturbing a parallelogram. Take a parallelogram PQRS. Move the opposite vertices P and R a certain distance, in a certain direction, and move the other two vertices the same distance in the opposite direction. The result is a new quadrilateral, a perturbation of the original parallelogram. Given a general quadrilateral, there's exactly one way to represent it as a perturbation; you can recover the parallelogram in this way. Let Z be the center of gravity of the quadrilateral. (If you use coordinates, Z = (A+B+C+D)/4. It's also halfway between the midpoints of the diagonals AC and BD.) If you reflect the midpoint M_AC of the diagonal AC in the midpoint M_AZ of the segment AZ, you'll get the first vertex of the parallelogram. Similarly, reflect M_BD in M_BZ, M_CA in M_CZ, and M_DB in M_DZ to get the other three vertices of the parallelogram.

Most of the classes of quadrilateral I've worked with involve either the base parallelogram by itself, or the relationship between the perturbation and various special lines of the parallelogram. More about that later; but this construction is key to the way I study quadrilaterals.

(I tried to insert a pair of pictures illustrating the constructions, but it didn't seem to work. Sorry.)


Feb. 16th, 2019 08:25 pm
ursula: bear eating salmon (Default)
[personal profile] ursula
[personal profile] glasseye and I went to the Detroit Institute of Arts today. Some photos are here.

Some highlights... )
kore: (Default)
[personal profile] kore
Very quick delayed allcapsy reaction after a second viewing:


Matter can neither be created nor destroyed in an isolated system )

tl;dr I liked "Obol for Charon" a whole lot, loved this one to bits and pieces. I am HOPEFUL. (Speaking of "Obol," Sonequa Martin-Green is marvelous, but I dunno how Doug Jones manages to be heartbreaking through twenty pounds of ridiculous makeup. SirPatStewACTING.gif)

Everything having to do with New Fake Spock: I still don't fucking care.

Quotes of the Day

Feb. 16th, 2019 03:02 pm
muccamukk: Jessica standing on a high balcony, looking out. (JJ: Watching Over You)
[personal profile] muccamukk
The only power adequate to stop tyranny and destruction is civil society, which is the great majority of us when we remember our power and come together. The job begins with opposition to specific instances of destruction, but it is not ended until we have made deep systemic changes and recommitted ourselves, not just as a revolution, because revolutions don't last, but as a civil society with values of equality, democracy, inclusion, full participation—a radical e pluribus unum, plus compassion. This work is always, first and last, storytelling work, or what some of my friends call "the battle of the story." Building, remembering, retelling, celebrating our own stories is part of our work.

This work will only matter if it's sustained. To sustain it, people have to believe that the myriad small, incremental actions matter. That they matter even when the consequences aren't immediate or obvious. They must remember that often when you fail at your immediate objective—to block a nominee or a pipeline or to pass a bill—that, even then, you may have changed the whole framework in ways that make broader change more possible. You may change the story or the rules, give tools, templates or encouragement to future activists, and make it possible for those around you to persist in their efforts.

To believe matters—well we can't see the future, but we have the past. Which gives us patterns, models, parallels, principles, and resources; stories of heroism, brilliance, and persistence, and the deep joy to be found in doing the work that matters. With those in hand, we can seize the possibilities and begin to make hopes into actualities.
— Rebecca Solnit, "In Praise of Indirect Consequences"

Some history-making is intentional; much of it is accidental. People make history when they scale a mountain, ignite a bomb, or refuse to move to the back of the bus. But they also make history by keeping diaries, writing letters, or embroidering initials on linen sheets. History is a conversation and sometimes a shouting match between present and past, though often the voices we most want to hear are barely audible. People make history by passing on gossip, saving old records, and by naming rivers, mountains, and children. Some people leave only their bones, though bones too make a history when someone notices.
— Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

Optimising for browse not search

Feb. 16th, 2019 10:51 pm
naraht: (Default)
[personal profile] naraht
So my city library shelves fiction books in either Fiction, Classic Fiction, or Science Fiction and Fantasy. And there is no way to tell from the catalogue which of these sections a book has been put into.

Bear in mind that I've seen Anathem and Seveneaves by Neil Stephenson, The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville and A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers in the Fiction section. The definition of Classic Fiction appears to be 'published by Penguin Vintage,' which isn't exactly easy to guess either.

I started to say to the woman on the desk, "I'm certain this isn't the first time someone has told you that..."

She wearily and uninterestedly replied, "there are comment cards."

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Feb. 16th, 2019 03:59 pm
thnidu: edited from (smiley)
[personal profile] thnidu
From SNL Transcripts Tonight— For Die Hard Saturday Night Live Fans

Happy Fun Ball

Kid 1…..Jan Hooks

Kid 2…..Dana Carvey

Kid 3…..Mike Myers

[ open on three kids playing with their Happy Fun Ball ]

Kid 1: It’s happy!

Kid 2: It’s fun!

All Three Kids: It’s Happy Fun Ball!

Announcer: Yes, it’s Happy Fun Ball! The toy sensation that’s sweeping the nation! Only $14.95 at participating stores! Get one today!

Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball.

Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.

Happy Fun Ball contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.

Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete.

Discontinue use of Happy Fun Ball if any of the following occurs:
    •    itching
    •    vertigo
    •    dizziness
    •    tingling in extremities
    •    loss of balance or coordination
    •    slurred speech
    •    temporary blindness
    •    profuse sweating
    •    or heart palpitations.

If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin.

When not in use, Happy Fun Ball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration. Failure to do so relieves the makers of Happy Fun Ball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company, GlobalChemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.

Ingredients of Happy Fun Ball include an unknown glowing green substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.

Happy Fun Ball has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

Happy Fun Ball comes with a lifetime warranty.

Announcer: Happy Fun Ball! Accept no substitutes!

Click headline for story

sort-of making up for some things

Feb. 16th, 2019 12:47 pm
sergebroom: (Default)
[personal profile] sergebroom
"Great job on coordinating all of this, Serge... You certainly showed your mettle."

- my boss about yesterday's work

How is this hard?

Feb. 16th, 2019 11:33 am
muccamukk: Thor looking at a coffee cup. Text: why is the coffee gone? (Thor: Why Is the Coffee Gone?)
[personal profile] muccamukk
Book: To comprehend the events that had brought Anderson and international attention to Osgoode Hall that cool December morning, we must understand slavery in America.
Book: *spends the seven paragraphs immediately following sketching out the origins and conditions of slavery in America.*

(Okay, the prose is not the best, but one idea follows another. GENIUS! Give the man a GG!)

The previous book, The Great Cowboy Strike, was a 240-page tribute to a need for stronger editorial control in small publishing houses. Non-fiction is not in fact written via a process of vomiting facts onto a page and then not organising your ideas or providing any kind of narrative at all.

Through the wardrobe

Feb. 16th, 2019 10:38 am
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Sherwood and I at my parents' place in Mariposa (near Yosemite) for an impromptu writing retreat prompted by Dad sending me snow photos. Snow has been incredibly rare in my life, so I grabbed Sherwood and rushed up in the hope that we'd get more. And sure enough, it snowed again! Snow is falling outside my window even as I write!

Sherwood is staying at the main house with my folks. I'm at the cabin with my cats, which is a 5-minute walk down a hill and heated by a woodturning stove. So to get to the main house, I must hike uphill and in the snow! (You can't drive up the driveway when it's snowy, as it's icy and treacherous.)

It looks like Narnia outside all windows, and is wonderfully silent when I'm in the cabin or can convince Dad to turn off the TV.

I have been busy making winter treats, such as hot cider and apple turnovers, and non-winter-specific ones, such as frozen Thin Mints dipped in whipped cream and lavender-blueberry cocktails. (Lemonade infused with blueberries, lavender vodka.) We are just eating what we have in the house, as we can't drive anywhere due to ice, but as you can see this is not exactly a hardship.

Before it snowed, the koi pond overflowed and went over the dock and the lawn chairs. Then, snow. Those are floating snow-covered lounge chairs!

The views outside the cabin window:

Alex materializes on my shoulder via dimensional portal:

Alex was very excited by the snow, which he's seeing for the first time. He darted through my legs when I opened the door to fetch wood and began leaping and prancing about in the snow, leaving a trail of little kitty paw prints. I retrieved him with some difficulty. Guess me and my cat are two of a kind.

Also I got four wonderful stories for Chocolate Box! I will do a rec post later today, hopefully. Meanwhile, go enjoy the archive.

Furry creatures

Feb. 16th, 2019 07:06 pm
gale_storm: (Default)
[personal profile] gale_storm
If we had a dog, it would be very well fed, after it followed me to hoover up food I'd dropped. 

Here at this MS place, I've now spotted cats walking around the grounds, looking well fed themselves. I was indoors while they were out- so I wasn't able to even initiate contact. The cats I've now seen are:
  • White (couldn't see whether or not its eyes were different colours, as all-white cats sometimes are).
  • Tabby (grey)
  • Black (couldn't see whether or where it had a maker's mark, which I'd thought would be a cool term for the smallest of tiny areas in its coat has with white fur, even just one!)
So now, the eye is out for a ginger tabby, known as red cats here. There has to be one around here somewhere. As they tend to be male, it might be laying back to wait for his harem to bring food to him. Well, that's the way it seems to work on Animal Planet.

(Oh, in the Subject line above, I wrote, 'Furry creatures', but I hadn't meant to refer to anyone who, for any reason, dress up as other creatures. If you dress as another species or even as anotther person, that's furry creature squared or maybe cubed.)

neotoma: Bunny likes oatmeal cookies [foodie icon] (foodie-bunny)
[personal profile] neotoma posting in [community profile] fresh_haul
Pint of cream, gouda cheese, cheese cake, chocolate olive oil cake, almond tart, pound of ground chicken, cameo apples, apple schinitz, 8lbs of potatoes.

Ficcish round-up

Feb. 16th, 2019 05:56 pm
el_staplador: Tight crop of Mila holding Yuri Plisetsky over her head - from Yuri!!! on Ice (mila)
[personal profile] el_staplador
1. Chocolate Box! I received two delightful stories. Read more... )

2. As promised, I have attempted a Problem of Susan story. Read more... )

3. Four of my stories - one original and three YOI - were translated into Russian as part of WTF Women 2019. I do not know any Russian, beyond recognising a few letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, but have been enjoying looking for names etc. Read more... )

their goddamned job

Feb. 16th, 2019 10:58 am
sergebroom: (Default)
[personal profile] sergebroom
I am irritated with one of our team's oncall people. Making sure that someone IS working on a problem found by the earlier shift is not something I manage and yet, even though he should have been on the lookout by simply checking his email especially after what our system recently went thru, he did not. If I had not called, the problem would have been left unsolved. My new team is better than the one I'd been with for 23 years, but I still wind up not being good enough to be a manager/coordinator while finding myself being the person who makes sure others do their goddamned job.
newredshoes: Sam Wilson on phone laughing + being a qt (cap | Sam laughing alone with salad)
[personal profile] newredshoes
Free million-dollar idea from [personal profile] phoenixchilde’s and my road trip down to Ocean City: a Roomba-style lawnmower with a crop circle setting.

In other news, being away from Ira is hARD but being away from New York with excellent people in a brand-new place is GREAT.
muccamukk: Faiza and Jac drink lemonade and watch cricket. (Marvel: Watching Sports)
[personal profile] muccamukk
Haven't done one of these in a couple months. Don't seem to be watching a lot of tv/movies that's not retreads for fic, or comfort rewatching.

She-Ra: The Princesses of Power Season One
Really enjoyed it, but have zero fannish feels. I am looking forward to seeing where the story goes over the next four seasons.

Doctor Who: "Resolution"
This was an episode that existed. Felt like 30-minutes of plot stretched into an hour of episode. Liked Ryan's dad. Did not like the oddly sexual tentacle monster. The Doctor grandstanding was good. Want to own the scarf. (Does the bbc shop sell them? ETA: No.) Hope next series has more guest writers.

The Innocents: 1x01 "The Start of Us"
Nenya and I were calling this "The Hot Ux Show" because one of the leads was in Doctor Who. The title of the show is actually The Innøcents, which I believe is meant to make me think of Nordic thrillers, and mostly makes me laugh. This is a Netflix thing about a couple of teenagers, one of whom probably has super powers, on the run from creepy parents, creepy secret organisations, and creepiness generally. Abandoned due to too much threatening looming and bad lighting, and not caring about teenagers as a rule.

(I'm realising that if the main characters of a show are under 20, my chances of giving a shit about them is much lower.)

Our Kind of Traitor (2016)
*sighs* So I was stuck on shithole island with nothing else to do but watch this movie, and I still ended up skimming through scenes towards the end. I don't know how different this is from the book, and I usually like le Carré, but this wasn't doing it for me. I was watching for Damian Lewis (I was promised he doesn't play a rapist in this one, and instead he played a Sad Father out for Revenge), and he was enjoyable in a quietly competent with an RP accent kind of way. Though even Lewis got stuck with one of those macho threaten the badguy by telling him your actual plan scenes. Stellan Skarsgård was clearly having a lot of fun as an utterly over the top and terrified mobster, and it was a very pretty movie, but the main plot was so boring, omg!

The central character was Ewan McGregor playing a meek and failed husband to power lawyer Naomie Harris (If you're thinking I'd rather be watching a movie where Naomie Harris's character was the lead, you're guessing correctly). Over the course of the movie, he finds that the core of his character is that Modest Bravery that Is Typical of the British Character. There's a scene where he gets in a physical fight to protect a woman (there actually several of these scenes), and Harris sees him do it, and then after being A Frigid Bitch before (because he was cheating on her!) gently takes his hand. Readers, my eyes rolled so hard that they fell out of my head and bounced off the table onto the floor. I'm willing to take that kind of character if he's played by Ralph Fiennes, but McGregor doesn't have the chops for it.

Ocean's Eight (2018)
As with previous Oceans movies, this one coasted entirely on rule of cool and the charm of an incredibly charming cast. I enjoyed it immensely, laughed a lot, and have several ships. I hope they make more with this cast.

Umbrella Academy's non-child actor...

Feb. 16th, 2019 05:35 pm
cimorene: minimal cartoon stick figure on the phone to the Ikea store, smiling in relief (call ikea)
[personal profile] cimorene
So we started watching the newly released Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, based on Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance's award-winning comic books.

... Number 5, the time-traveling adult trapped in the body of a small child, was kind of my favorite in the comic book, and part of the weirdness was obviously how young he looked. They made him 13 in the series, and the actor who played him was 14 for filming (which makes him 15 this year).

He looked familiar to me (he wasn't, he just looks a bit like someone else) and so, trying to place him, I looked him up on IMDb and his biography hit me with this:

Within a few months he had booked two network pilots, a film starring Tyler Blackburn, and an episode of "Modern Family." [...] In June 2018, Aidan made history becoming the youngest United Nations Ambassador of all time after five years of working as an Ambassador to numerous environmental organizations. [...] Aidan is currently recording his first album as a solo artist and plans a world tour following the release between seasons of The Umbrella Academy.

After we paused the show I read it more carefully and found that all-important phrase, "[h]is father being in the industry". Since the author of this wordy, over-capitalized and eccentrically-punctuated tale had also written one other bio, I clicked and discovered from his dad's even more bewildering bio that he was in film production/finance (and a paragraph of other things, all after "Intelligence field"). LOL.
petra: Barbara Gordon smiling knowingly (Default)
[personal profile] petra
Hi, I'm Bob. I'm a tlepath. It's like a telepath, except I can only communicate mind-to-mind in Nahuatl.

My rather idiosyncratic opinion...

Feb. 16th, 2019 03:27 pm
oursin: Photograph of James Miranda Barry, c. 1850 (James M Barry)
[personal profile] oursin

That Dr James Miranda Barry would have wished to be remembered for outstanding achievement in the fields of medicine, surgery, and sanitary and hygienic reform.

That if, by some miracle, Barry were to be transported into the present day, I think the things that would be arousing the famed incandescent fury would be things like anti-vaxxers ('they've eradicated smallpox and people are wilfully refusing to prevent measles??!!') and advanced societies unable to guarantee a clean water supply to all citizens, that sort of thing.

And that Wakefield would find himself in receipt of challenges, if not Barry, with a sword, on his doorstep.

We doubt, however, that however remarkable, without some additional cause of interest, a pioneering doctor and sanitary reformer would have generated over a period of several decades a number of novels and biographies (going back at least to 1932).

Eastercon advice

Feb. 16th, 2019 03:44 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
I would really like to go to Eastercon this year, but anxiety brain is making me second and third guess myself about my ability to deal with the full con experience. I know I’ve done three years of Nine Worlds, but the central London location made it really easy to stay off site and for T to come too and just go off and do his own thing during the days; that’s not going to work for Eastercon so it would just be me by myself and I’m a bit worried about how that would go. (It doesn’t help that Easter is so late this year I won’t be able to take recovery time the week after, as it’s 0th week of term and work will be busy.)

Reassurances, encouragement and stories of how to survive a con as the kind of sociable introvert who absolutely loves the right kind of interactions with people right up to the point where she goes splat and tends not to be great at pacing would be appreciated here!


Feb. 16th, 2019 10:40 am
dagibbs: (Default)
[personal profile] dagibbs
I feel like I've done this trip before. More than once.

Yep, I'm off for another week in Germany -- flying to Frankfurt then driving to Hildesheim, because even with the 330km drive, it was easier than trying to faly Hanover, then drive from there.
seleneheart: (coffee drug)
[personal profile] seleneheart
But here's my list (from here:

  1. Enemies to Friends to Lovers

  2. (tied) Fake Dating/Fake Marriage Accidentally Turns Into Feelings

  3. (tied)Soulmate Identifying Marks (Tattoo, Red Thread of Fate, etc)

  4. Friends to Lovers

  5. Fairy Tale/Mythology AU

  6. Supernatural Creature/Human Romance

  7. Amnesia Fic

  8. Snowed-In Cabin/Isolated Together For Extended Period of Time

  9. Pride and Prejudice AU

  10. Coffee House AU/Food Service AU

My very least favorite trope was Kid!fic. Heh. Wonder why that is? <-- sarcasm

The Word “Boudoir” Is Funny to Me

Feb. 16th, 2019 09:49 am
moon_custafer: (Default)
[personal profile] moon_custafer
“Well, I’m off to my sulk-chamber. Gonna lounge around in my sulkateria.” (Puts on negligent outfit, picks up the news)

Are you conversant?

Feb. 16th, 2019 09:01 am
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
[personal profile] stultiloquentia
Lots of posts on my feeds this week about personal libraries and people's relationships with them. Books as treasured physical objects. Books as sources of pressure—to have read enough, and the right ones, and the ones everybody else is reading so you can join the right conversations. Books as comfort, clutter, decor, identity.

I got nuffin profound to say about any of it. But [personal profile] minoanmiss prompted me to ruminate, so I will admit that I like owning books; I wish I had room for more of them, and a bigger budget for beautiful hardcovers. I have an active relationship with my small, apartment-dweller's collection that ebooks can't replicate: they're off my shelves all the time, rummaged through, marked up, declaimed from on random weeknights while my housemate is trying to make mac and cheese. ("I CANNOT PRAISE A FUGITIVE AND CLOISTERED VIRTUE...YOU'RE GOING TO ADD EXTRA CHEDDAR TO THAT, RIGHT?") My couch nest is usually surrounded by little inuksuk-like piles, half the public library's, half mine.

I have Kate Beaton's "Dude Watching" comic printed out and stuffed in the dust jacket of my copy of Jane Eyre. Maya's "Coda to an Epilogue" is tucked next to Harry Potter. Next to that is a drawing by the 12-year-old reluctant reader who actually got excited to write a five-paragraph persuasive essay when I told her it could be about Snape, because whatever those books' literary merit, their pedagogical impact was life-changing. An Economist article on Christopher Fry is folded up inside The Lady's Not for Burning, which also has all the shorthand lighting cues from the production I directed in college. Green Grass, Running Water is bristling with bookmarks. The Lord of the Rings I inherited is full of my mother's etymology notes penciled in the margins. Long Hidden houses torn-out notebook pages from a Readercon panel full of frantically scribbled quotes with hearts around them. When I say it's a personal library, I do mean personal. In use, in the same way the mixing bowls in my kitchen cabinet are in use.

For sure, reading goes in cycles. Right now I'm doing a lot of reading, daydreaming, and editing for friends. By summer I'll most likely have swung around to writing again, and the reading will taper off. But maybe in fall [personal profile] disgruntled_owl will again get wistful about the Pizza Hut-sponsored reading challenge many of us in North America participated in as kids, and lure her friends into logging our page counts and filling in bingo squares and jockeying for pizza and homemade cocoa mixes. (I have the awesomest friends.) Grad school broke me (mostly) of the fear of reading inadequately, and fandom broke me of the impulse to rank my pastimes in order of least to most admirable, but the sheer nostalgic silly fun of reading books for prizes, and books outside one's usual sights, and then pithily reviewing them on the shared spreadsheet, was shockingly motivating. We had such good conversations at our wrap-up party.

I guess this post (which is about to trail off unpithily, so I can go make my breakfast) is a meditation about not reading in a vacuum, or at any rate a Romantic solitude like a girl in a novel who is not like other girls, which also explains why I latched onto fandom so hard twenty-whatever years ago. I haven't read Kondo, so I don't know her questions except for the one about joy, which seems sound. But I think if I were to cull my books, I would start by holding each in my hand and asking, "Am I still having a conversation with you?" And if I weren't, I would drop it off at a shop where it could go and speak to somebody else.

I'm Good With That

Feb. 16th, 2019 08:20 am
[syndicated profile] davehingsburger_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

It lay there on the floor.

I was standing. I can stand. I can walk a bit. But I have to have something to steady me, a wall, a railing, and arm or shoulder. I had put my clothing in the laundry hamper and a receipt had fallen out of my pants pocket. It lay there, on the floor, looking like it needed to be picked up and put away.

I stood there and looked at it.

It's only been in recent months that I can reach down and pick something off the floor. I still have to be careful because of balance, but mostly, I can do it.

But I haven't had to do it for a very long time simply because I couldn't do it. In fact for nearly 13 years the floor and I have only had passing acquaintance. I could wave to it, to no effect because it never waved back, but that was it.

For years and years and years, I would simply let Joe know it was there and eventually, usually sooner than later, he'd pick it up and deal with it. He never minded, he was good with helping me where I needed help.

It's a complex thing being disabled. Because though I thought I wanted the skill of bending over and picking up things I'd dropped. It was really easy to simply let Joe do it. And 'easy' is something I can get used to.

I had a decision to make, pick it up, or leave it for Joe. If I didn't pick it up, he would never know that this was now about my laziness turning his help into servitude. He'd never know. But, shit, I would know.

I picked it up.

I'm no hero here, the reason I'm telling you isn't to point out how I made the right decision and Joe's day was lightened by a tiny little bit.


I'm wondering if it happens with disability that habit destroys motivation. If it's just a habit that you help me with my shoes, then why would I be motivated to use the skill once I'd learned it. It's easy to live the easy life.

I remember working in a school tying the laces on the shoes of a little boy who simply let me do it. It wasn't until another staff told me he could do it that I realized that he had tricked me by my own need to be helpful and my own stereotype of what I thought he could do.

Teaching a skill and then giving the privilege of using it.

Discovering one's own personal power.

That's cool.

Very cool.

Joe won't know until he reads this that I had that little debate but I know when he does, I'll be picking shit off the floor for the rest of my life!

And ... I'm good with that.

Next stop Saint Petersburg

Feb. 16th, 2019 12:00 pm
naraht: (Default)
[personal profile] naraht
So thank you to the enablers among you – I've decided to go to Saint Petersburg in March!

The ostensible reason is to see the Mishin-Moskvina 50th anniversary ice show but in fact this is just a great excuse to go back to Saint Petersburg. And I've persuaded my mother, who is a major Russophile (in a War and Peace and Doctor Zhivago sense) to join me.

We're staying in a boutique hotel just behind Kazan Cathedral with amazingly reasonable prices (£50/night for a 'comfort double' in such a central location?). In addition to the ice show we've got tickets to see 'Romeo and Juliet' at the Mariinsky and 'Swan Lake' at the Mikhailovsky. We're getting excited about the Hermitage (which neither of us have visited before) and the Russian Museum (which my mother hasn't). Naturally we're planning to see lots and lots of churches. And if the weather's suitable I'd love to do some outdoor skating.

Of course it's going to be cold, but not that cold. We're used to doing Quebec City in December, how bad can Saint Petersburg be? The good thing about visiting in March is that there will be very few tourists, and in particular (I imagine) very few cruise ship tourists.

Now I just have to decide whether to buy snow boots, try to persuade my mother to bring mine from New England, or just go in trainers and buy a pair there if conditions seem to indicate it. Otherwise I'm well-outfitted.

baby's first Disco fic

Feb. 16th, 2019 10:38 am
philomytha: girl in woods with a shaft of sunlight falling on her (Default)
[personal profile] philomytha
I appear to have fallen headfirst into a new fandom, if the sudden, er, mushrooming of 6000 words of fic in a new DISCO.TXT file on my computer is anything to go by. And that's just from the past day or two. There is some fun fic out there for Discovery on AO3, but there is a shocking lack of what I want, which is ALL the Shenzhou-era fic about Captain Georgiou and her two misfit proteges, all the stories of Michael and Saru sparring with each other while both being desperately loyal to her. Away missions gone wrong! Moral dilemmas! All the classic Trek tropes with those three, please! Also I want everything about Saru more generally, because after seeing his little backstory thing I am even more fascinated by him and how he went from primitive village boy to XO on Starfleet's shiniest science vessel. I haven't watched S2 yet, though I am thoroughly spoiled for all the major plot twists so far since I have no self-restraint. And as I said, I've been writing fic, on the basis that if you want to read it, you've got to write it first. And the first thing I've finished is a little triple drabble featuring Michael and Mirror!Saru. Warning for slavery and general mirrorverse angst.

the regard of the proud )

imprisoned by the dictionary

Feb. 16th, 2019 11:46 am
cimorene: stylized laurel wreath surrounding the Swedish phrase meaning "genius and taste" (snille och smak)
[personal profile] cimorene
"We are all imprisoned by the dictionary. We choose out of that vast, paper-walled prison our convicts, the little black printed words, when in truth we need fresh sounds to utter, new enfranchised noises which would produce a new effect.”

—Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan
sasha_feather: book cover art from the queens thief (queens thief)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
I'm just so excited to have read a book this week. Because of my headaches and facial pain, etc, I've had a hard time reading, and it makes me sad becuase I love reading. it's not that I love "having read", I love reading itself, the quiet of it, the way time stretches pleasantly and I can immerse myself into a narrative. Sometimes when I finish a book I'm just so happy with the experience that I'm like, "5 stars! Excellent book!" Then later I think more critically and temper my opinion.

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

Some of this is copied from my Goodreads:

Intense, absorbing, and beautifully written. This memoir details the author's experience with childhood cancer in her jaw. Unsurprisingly if you know me at all, I especially enjoyed the horse parts: as a teenager, Grealy works at a couple of stables and finds solace in the horses. I appreciated the meditations about how one's face can be a stand-in for one's self.

Contains: harrowing descriptions of medical procedures including surgeries, radiation and chemo, dental procedures, plastic surgery, hospital stays;
Human and animal death;
Descriptions of bullying.

Several times the author uses "blind" as a pejorative.

The flaw of this book, if there is one, is that the beginning parts are intensely detailed, making you feel as if you are there with Grealy, but then the last third of the book is not very detailed at all. Suddenly she's in college, then grad school, then living in Europe. This is the part where she's getting a lot of reconstructive surgery, none of which she's very happy with. I'm not sure how I feel about this part, or about the book as a whole. Sadly Grealy did not live very long, so couldn't reflect more upon this stage of her life. She died of an overdose.

She seemed to have a very interesting and complex inner life, with a fierce intelligence.

This book does not get into disability politics or culture at all, except perhaps in a few scenes where she finds community with fellow patients in hospitals.
rosefox: A half-completed game where one organizes jumbled dots. (order)
[personal profile] rosefox
(I'm not saying that Squirrel Nut Zippers' "Meant to Be" is intended to be about decluttering and finding that one perfect object you absolutely have to keep, but it's very fun to listen to it that way.)

Tonight I showed X the cute gay couple episode of Tidying Up ("I feel like I was just punched in the face by niceness," they said), and then we turned around and considered the bookcase behind us.

The right-now book )

Categories of maybe-keep-maybe-not books )

Categorizing the books in this fashion made it easy to pull down a dozen or so and send them on their merry way. X reminded me not to do too much tonight—I have a cold (again) and have been sleeping very badly (again) and that's not ideal for this sort of emotional task—so I channeled my tidying urges into trimming the extremely large mattress-type tags off our new dining chair cushions and agreeing with X and J that we should get rid of our coat tree, which is huge and space-occupying in a non-useful way.

And now I'm going to to take a long hot bath and read High Stakes, because it said "Read me now!" and there is no better reason to read a book.

EDIT: It was just as good as I remember, and I had forgotten enough of the plot to get very tense in a few places and appreciate how it all went down. Absolutely an A+ keeper—I may have to wait another 20 years to forget the plot again, but when I want to read it I will be very glad to have it to hand.

OUAF 2019

Feb. 15th, 2019 09:28 pm
desertvixen: (Default)
[personal profile] desertvixen

poking my head in

Feb. 15th, 2019 09:49 pm
likeadeuce: (buffysurvive)
[personal profile] likeadeuce
oops I disappeared for a month but in my defense it's a very weird February here in Virginia.

anyway, I've been watching Star Trek: Discovery and I like it.

At one point, the admiral describes Pike and Leland, skeptically, as "Old friends who don't shake hands?" and that's basically the description of a ship type that I can certainly never pass up.


Feb. 15th, 2019 05:36 pm
kore: (Default)
[personal profile] kore
[personal profile] melannen reminded me -- OMG, remember when people made NASA rover (and other) accounts on LJ?

Opportunity M. Rover - [ profile] opportunitygrrl

Stardust - [ profile] stardustboy

Spirit - [ profile] spiritrover

Gravity Probe B - [ profile] gravity_probe_b

Hubble Telescope - [ profile] hubbletelescope

Geostationary Weather Satellites - [ profile] goes_sat

Mars 3 - [ profile] mars3 (This one went all out: 'I am Mars 3, superior space exploration technology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. With Comrade PROP-M, I explore Mars for the greater glory of the Soviet People and to undermine the thinly veiled attempts at interplanetary oppression by the capitalist United States and their "Viking" missions. For Comrade Secretary Brezhnev, for Comrade Lenin, I advance, inspired by the Beautiful Socialist Cause!')

Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer - [ profile] fuse_sat

Mars Beagle - [ profile] mars_beagle

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory - [ profile] soho_sat

Voyager - [ profile] voyager_at_90au

That's all the ones I could find. I wonder who made them.

And there are official(?) Twitter accounts:

Curiosity - [ profile] MarsCuriosity

Spirit and Oppy - [ profile] MarsRovers

(I thought there were more?) Also, some beautiful art from Twitter.


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