Why I Can't Sleep/Sleep Too Much

Sep. 26th, 2017 01:28 pm
handful_ofdust: (Default)
[personal profile] handful_ofdust
Yesterday was Cal's thirteenth birthday, giving me once again an opportunity to reckon just how amazingly he's grown since...well, since he was born, obviously, but also since last year, and the year before that, etcetera. He's officially a teenager today. I bought him his first batch of student's tickets, made him stick one in the till as we went through the turnstile at Coxwell subway station. At Sherbourne, he suddenly turned to me and, quite seriously, said: "Mom, this is our stop." I'd intended to go to Yonge/Bloor and ride the subway all the way around to King, but I asked him: "Do you want to get off at Sherbourne?" "Yes." "You want to ride the Sherbourne bus down to our building?" "Yes." "Okay." So that's what we did, and when I told him to show the bus driver his transfer, he did. And then we went back to Sherbourne and I fell asleep on the couch, utterly gutted by a post-adrenaline surge exhaustion that later gave me a massive sick headache. I feel like I haven't quite recovered even today.

Because the other thing about yesterday, of course, is that it began with an 8:30 AM pre-op checkup appointment at Toronto East General Hospital, where Cal and a bunch of other kids got a little lecture about what to expect when they got their tonsils and adenoids out. I and the other parents were given a small tour of the pediatric ward, told things like "the parent who goes in with him gets to stay through recovery, no one else"--because he actually does have to stay overnight, ha ha ha, which means so do I--and "this is a fasting ward, you won't be able to eat until they go in, so have a big breakfast before you get here." Then we saw the anesthesiologist, who was so kind and pleasant I started to cry at one point, without even vaguely knowing why. I've signed off on them sedating him before giving him the gas, because he sometimes fights it at the dentist. And then there's two weeks of after-care, pain and weirdness and the constant threat of infection, bleeding, whatever. That terrible sense that something has changed, permanently.

I don't want him to feel like we've tricked him or betrayed him, but he probably will. I can't see how he wouldn't. I'd give my right arm to be with him through the procedure, even though the idea of seeing them cut into him is...awful, horrifying. He's literally never been in hospital before, aside from that time they put him to sleep to remove four rotted baby teeth and a recent-ish trip to Emergency Mom had, which he got caught up in because I had committed to walking up with her and Steve wasn't yet home to take him away. They have a lot of toys there, at least.

I know it's the best idea, that is really does have to be done; shit, I fought for this, after all. But yesterday, when he literally exploded into song after we left, then did it again after our birthday dinner with Mom, I couldn't help thinking that we don't even know if he'll be able to sing anymore after this surgery. Or if his voice will suddenly change in some wrenching way--drop, maybe. He sounded beautiful last night. He sang "Beauty and the Beast" all the way through, maybe because he knows Mom likes it, even though Mom was already far behind him. He let me sing along with him, even though I don't have perfect pitch, like he does.

I don't want him to hate me, even for a moment. I love him. I need him to love me. To keep ON loving me.

So there we have it: why I can't sleep, why I sleep too much, why I'm finding it hard to write, why why why. Because my heart permanently lives outside of my body, forever stuck inside a piece of myself that they cut out of me thirteen years ago. Because I am a Mom, along with everything else, and goddamnit, it did change me. It made me better, and worse, and different. He made--and makes--me who I am.

Happy birthday, Callum Jacob Barringer.

when the curtain parts

Sep. 26th, 2017 12:17 pm
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
[personal profile] asakiyume
When the curtain parts, when the doors open, when unknown beings from there come here, they always arrive in an empty parking lot, at twilight, when the sky is glowing but the earth is dim, and the electric lights of humankind seem as weak as a last breath.

portentous sky

"Brown Girl Begins"

Sep. 26th, 2017 10:28 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
On Saturday, I trekked up to NYC to see the premiere of "Brown Girl Begins," a film made from parts of Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring (her first novel). I'd gotten an email about it because I contributed to the fundraiser; the film was shown by the Urbanworld festival.

I knew the budget was very low, but was impressed by how much the filmmaker did with it, using repeated imagery and sparse effects, like the force-shield dome over Toronto. The actors were terrific, and I liked the costuming and minimal but effective set-dressing (bright feathers appeared a lot).

The story focused more on the mystical aspects of the obeah than on the science fictional elements, I felt. The script seemed to be aiming for a coming-of-age story, about growing into and accepting power from without and within. But overall, I thought the same ideas were repeated too often, like the movie wasn't sure I-the-viewer could figure it out.

As usual with films made from novels, I was disappointed in how little of the book's story made it into the film, even though it was billed as only part of the novel. I think if you hadn't read the book, you wouldn't get much of an idea of it beyond the baseline, 'this is a futuristic dystopia in which there are people of color and obeah in Toronto'. On the other hand, for some viewers that would be enough to get them to watch. I want people to watch! And discuss!

For those who've read the book, it focuses on the beginning of Ti-Jeanne's relationship with Tony, and introduces the viewers to some of the book's basic issues (addiction to Buff and Rudy's gang, primarily). The organ-stealing plotline was not referenced, and Ti-Jeanne doesn't yet have Baby.

I noticed the dialect from the book had been toned down quite a bit, possibly to demonstrate the generational differences between Mami/Gros-Jeanne and Ti-Jeanne. Crack had been cast as a woman, which was interesting (Rudy didn't appear).

My friend and I stayed for the panel afterwards, and the director, Sharon Lewis, mentioned she was developing the book for a television series, aiming for something along the lines of Netflix or Amazon. I think that would work a lot better than the movie did - there is way too much plot for one feature. Here's hoping all goes well and it takes off and Nalo gets money!

A dilemma

Sep. 26th, 2017 09:33 am
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
So I bought a book off of Amazon that carried with it a bonus: I get to download a digital version of one of these Marvel comics/graphic novels. Which one do I download?

The only one I've already read is Marvel 1602, because I just haven't read a lot of Marvel in the past two decades. Wait, I lie, I've read the Weapon X stuff because that was being published back when I was reading Marvel.

Horizon, by Fran Wilde

Sep. 26th, 2017 07:03 am
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa
Review copy provided by Tor Books. Also the author is a personal friend and all-around nifty person.

This is the culmination of the trilogy that started with Updraft. If you're the sort of person who needs to know that something has a definite-and-for-sure ending before you buy that thing: here you are, here is the ending, it is a really-truly ending that ends. (I really want to encourage people not to do that, because it's a good way to make sure people don't get to have their endings published--especially people like Fran who have given you nice volume endings in addition to the larger series ending. But I know that such people exist, so! Here is the information you were looking for: ending!)

I don't recommend starting with Horizon. This is clearly a culmination, and there are only two books before it to give you the plot and character arcs Fran is weaving together here; it's not like you have to read twelve bugcrushers to get to what she's doing here. Kirit and Nat and their friends and relations--and grudging allies, and adversaries--are back and struggling for survival--trying to figure out, from page one, what shape their survival can even take.

For that reason, it's hard to review Horizon in very concrete terms, because there's so much that it's doing that depends on the previous books. It's exciting from the first page, it's all engineering and all social and all heart, all at once. Fran's weaving threads and perspectives together in ways that she didn't in previous books--rather than resting on previous successes, she's doing this book in a new way, and it works. It's the way this book would have to work, but I love to see that in a first series, rather than copying the structure of a first book that's had as much success as Updraft has, I love to see an author following the story and doing what it needs even if the structure isn't the same. The previous volumes didn't pull punches, and neither does Horizon, but it does that in its own way.

The ending is satisfying without being overly tidy, without being one-size-fits-all for characters who have spent this whole trilogy coming in different sizes. And...I really appreciate the way people with common goals don't always trust each other, don't always like each other--and are sometimes very grumpy at the compromises they have to make with each other. The world is like that; the world of fiction too often finds it difficult to be both satisfying and realistic, but I think Horizon manages both. With lots of astonishing creatures and feats of derring-do in between.

Please consider using our link to buy Horizon from Amazon.

The Return of the Basil

Sep. 26th, 2017 07:57 am
osprey_archer: (nature)
[personal profile] osprey_archer
About a month ago, I transplanted my basil plant from its pot into the ground. Upon doing so I discovered that the basil's roots completely filled the pot, which probably explained why the basil was looking so yellow and peaky, and even after transplanting it I daily awaited the basil's demise.

Dear readers! The basil is flourishing! It has put forth a bounteous new crop of rich green leaves, and only grows more fervently when we take some of those leaves to adorn French bread pizzas or tomato crostinis.

Did I tell you we made bat-shaped crostinis when we watched LEGO Batman? (Julie had not seen it so of course we had to remedy this.) They turned out much more bat-shaped than the bat sugar cookies, which spread in the oven, as sugar cookies do. Next time I need thematically shaped food, crostinis are clearly the way to go!

Also, the cherry tomatoes from the garden are so much better than cherry tomatoes from the store that I have begun to wonder if I am experiencing subpar versions of all the vegetables, and ought to try growing more next year. After the unfortunate strawberry experience, it's probably best to stick to easy vegetables; a zucchini plant perhaps: I've heard those grow like gangbusters without much help. Also, zucchini fritters.

The rosemary, which I transplanted at the same time as the basil, has not burst forth in quite the same manner - but then rosemary is a more retiring plant, and when I needed rosemary the other night for rosemary chicken salad and rosemary sweet potato fries (it was a very rosemary dinner), I found plenty of tender young rosemary shoots. The unseasonable heat, unpleasant though I find it, seems to be good for the herbs.
sovay: (Otachi: Pacific Rim)
[personal profile] sovay
Our house smells like the sea. A sea-fog came in through the windows before midnight, as strong and salt as standing on the docks: I was lying on the couch and thought that if I looked out the windows, I would see water moving under the streetlights, and first I got Jacques Brel's "La cathédrale" stuck in my head and then I fell asleep. I was saying elsewhere in a discussion of dead zones/waste lands in weird fiction that someone must have set a weird tale in the deep anoxic waters of the Black Sea because it's too uncanny an environment to pass up (the millennia of preserved shipwrecks alone), but I can't think of any examples. I hope I don't have to write one. See previous complaints about research.

Finally, not a fan of the theme song

Oct. 1st, 2017 08:14 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
Insufficiently "Fanfare to the Common Man" for my tastes, and I don't like the intro video either.

(And I have Thoughts. For a society so obsessed with the Prime Directive, Federation humans are equally obsessed with the idea that secretly, all species would be better off as humans. Here it is AGAIN in this ep. Nevermind that being raised by Vulcans is a strange plot contrivance, isn't it enough that she's content and functional, without having to ditch who she is to be "more human" by some arbitrarily emotional reckoning? Is this universal Trek belief a clever dig at Americans, or do Trek writers really agree with this? Eddington was right - they're worse than the Borg! They assimilate people, and they don't even realize it. This would be an interesting angle to take. They already have the seeds planted with the Klingons. They're not going to go that route, though.)

Ah well. In other news, J was thrilled with his bag. Also, I am sick. *sneeze*

Oh! And when I came home today from walking the dogs, there was a cardboard cat carrier and a small box of cat food on my porch. This is all a bit inexplicable, and I'm wondering if maybe somebody intended to leave a cat there? If so, kitty escaped. Just as well - I'm full up on formerly stray animals.

****************


Poison Frogs Make Surprisingly Attentive Adoptive Parents

Fish have complex personalities, research shows

Indian Designers Built A Genius Air Conditioner That Works Without Electricity, And It Can Save Lives (Well, "invented" is a stretch, evaporative coolers already exist, but it looks nifty.)

'Cowgirls of Color' break barriers to compete in typically white, male rodeo

Quiet energy revolution underway in Japan as dozens of towns go off the grid

You Need to Try Coffee Lemonade

The Women Miners in Pants Who Shocked Victorian Britain

A Failed 1930s American Town, Lost in Time in the Amazon Rainforest

The EU Suppressed a 300-Page Study That Found Piracy Doesn’t Harm Sales

Group Therapy Is Saving Lives in Chicago

Catalans are not alone. Across the world, people yearn to govern themselves

Iraqi Kurdistan referendum: High turnout in independence vote

Reluctant champion: How Nadia Murad has become the international face of Yazidi suffering – and resilience

The History of Sears Predicts Nearly Everything Amazon Is Doing

Artificial Colors Are Back in Trix Because Nobody Liked Natural Ingredients

Revenge of the Super Lice (Apparently, in Europe it's mostly synthetic oil treatments, not pesticides. I'll keep an eye out for the day that's approved over here.)

Anatomy of a Propaganda Campaign

The family of strangers who fled Boko Haram

Every year, millions try to navigate US courts without a lawyer

How Conservatives Learned to Love Free Lawyers for the Poor

The Brazenness of Trump's White House Staff Using Private Email

Still Fighting at Standing Rock

Trump’s wall could cause the extinction of the American jaguar

Trump Is Helping Airlines Get Away With Breaking People’s Wheelchairs

Silent killer: Sweltering planet braces for deadly heat shocks

(no subject)

Sep. 25th, 2017 10:08 pm
skygiants: Kozue from Revolutionary Girl Utena, in black rose gear, holding her sword (salute)
[personal profile] skygiants
I happened to see on Twitter that today was the 30th anniversary of The Princess Bride, which I guess makes it a good day to post about As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride.

This is Cary Elwes' memoir of the making of the film, a book I had vaguely meant to read for years, but did not actually get around to until our new roommate left his copy in the house this summer as a sort of placeholder before actually moving in. It's very charming! I'd sort of always had a vague sense that Cary Elwes must in some way resent being forever branded as The Man In Black, and I'm sure that at some points he has and does, but this write-up is probably the most overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic Hollywood making-of memoir I've ever read. It's clearly intended for people who love the film and want to go on loving it, without a complicated feeling in sight.

My favorite part was probably the enthusiastic things that Cary Elwes and everyone interviewed had to say about Robin Wright and her acting as Buttercup; they're all like "we sailed through on jokes! playing the straight man is the hardest role in the cast! ALSO SHE CAME FROM SOAP OPERAS, SOAP OPERAS ARE SO HARD, DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY LINES PER DAY --" I went in braced to feel vaguely defensive of Robin Wright and Buttercup, as I so often do, and instead I was charmed and endeared!

I also enjoyed accounts of:
- Mandy Patinkin turning up to the first rehearsal with six months of sword practice under his belt, much to Cary Elwes' dismay
- William Goldman freaking out about Rob Reiner setting the leading lady on fire
- Andre the Giant accidentally conking Cary Elwes out on set
- Cary Elwes carefully arranging himself on the grass in an elegant lounging position to hide that he'd broken an ankle joyriding in a golf card
- so much detailed description of sword training and fight choreography! *__* SO MUCH
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
but given the advanced state of their tech, am I wrong in pegging this as a third universe? Okay, that's my official head-canon. Something, something, temporal cold war - THIRD UNIVERSE! (So does each new parallel universe also have its own twin mirror universe?)

Also: Why do all futuristic jails in all universes everywhere have force fields with no physical backup? That seems like a major design flaw.

Also also: Why are all the Klingons bald? Strange fashion choice, or genetic disease?
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
OUT OF MY FANDOM.

What the hell sort of Star Trek have they even been watching all this time?

I meme therefore I am

Sep. 25th, 2017 01:26 pm
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
Late start for work today because Nefer woke us both up complaining, and it turns out she's most likely got another UTI. We had to take her in to the vet, who could work us in this morning, luckily, so she's got a shot of antibiotics, a shot of painkiller, and a sample taken for culturing to figure out which bacteria it is. We've also locked her in the spare bedroom and bathroom with her own litterbox, food and water, and the microwavable heating pad to give her a few hours without Sora going YOU SMELL WEIRD AND ARE ACTING FUNNY I SHOULD TRY TO DRIVE YOU OUT OF THE PRIDE.

She didn't want to be locked up, but the painkiller is a morphine derivative and the vet assured us that life was going to get very good for her about an hour later, so I expect she's snoozing away in a sunbeam right now, content in the knowledge that she is now edging ahead of Sora for the title of Most Expensive Member of the Household.

Meme time!

What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be? )
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
Wow, that festival took a lot out of me. Taking the day off Friday was a terrific plan; I slept until roughly lunchtime, then spent the rest of the day being entertained by the Small Monkeys, Now Much Less Small Than When They Were Born. This resting helped me not keel over and die on my NYC daytrip until it was almost time to go home; I shall report on that later. First, the final two operas I saw.

"Elizabeth Cree" was a world premiere, based on a novel by Peter Ackroyd which I have not read (and do not plan to read). The small cast wore Victorian costuming to match the setting and moved amidst a mixture of physical furniture, a movable open metal staircase, and projected silhouettes and text.

I enjoyed this quite a lot, more than I'd expected; I did not quite figure out the mystery until it was about to be revealed, and all of the singers were incredible, particularly Daniela Mack as Elizabeth Cree and Joseph Gaines as Dan Leno. Before I went to see it, I called it a "murder opera," and I stand by that - several brutal murders are discoursed upon and shown in filmed silhouette, and the policeman is more concerned about his own future should he fail to solve the murders than he is about the victims.

Thematically, Murder as Spectacle was reiterated in several different ways, and critiqued by Karl Marx and George Gissing. Women's constrained roles, and the results of those constraints, also popped up, both through what the characters did and through what we the audience thought of what they did. In short, I thought this was great, and I would see it again. I'd put it my second favorite of the festival premieres, after "We Shall Not Be Moved."

Opera News review. Schompera review.

I saw "The Wake World" last night; notably, it was staged at the Barnes Foundation, one of Philadelphia's major museums. Most of the action took place on a long catwalk, with the audience seated or standing around it. The audience was free to move around, and sometimes the singers (mostly chorus, sometimes soloists) moved amid the audience as well.

I liked the idea of that, but in practice I found the constant audience movement distracting from the music, and sometimes I had difficulty seeing over people because I am not tall. The music itself was dreamlike and stuffed with overblown purple prose, most of which I quickly began to ignore in favor of just enjoying the splendid singing. The protagonists, Lola (soprano Maeve Höglund) and The Fairy Prince (cross-dressing mezzo Rihab Chaieb), were excellent in singing, acting, and embodying sex appeal, which was a good thing, since the plot (?) was just a weird, color-based advancement through a dream palace to achieve the ideal lover. Or something like that. The Fairy Prince managed to be really sexy in his three-piece suit and pipe while also mansplaining the palace and its rooms to Lola, which made me kind of hate him. I know characterization and plot was not the point, though, and the whole thing was successful as a spectacle that pushed against boundaries of opera staging, plus the chorus had a lot to do, yay - I used to sit next to the chorus' conductor, Liz Braden, back when my choir was conducted by Donald Nally.

The Broad Street Review's critique.

Dates are already set for next year's O18, so I am going to assume this year's festival was a success for the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Go them!
osprey_archer: (books)
[personal profile] osprey_archer
Peggy Rathman's Officer Buckle and Gloria, the 1996 Caldecott award winner, is full of delightful visual gags. Our hero, Officer Buckle, gives safety talks at schools, sharing safety tips like "Don't stand on swivel chairs." Which he discovered, just that morning, when he stood on a swivel chair and it slipped and he went flying, which is the very first illustration of the book.

However, Officer Buckle's talks have none of this kinetic energy - until he teams up with a police dog, Gloria, who illustrates his tips by, say, pretending to be electrocuted when Officer Buckle says "Don't swim during electrical storms."

This book is a super nostalgia trip for me, even though I didn't read it when it first came out, because it is Peak Nineties. The illustration style! But even more, the overwhelming obsession with safety! It didn't show up too much in my real life, aside from the fact that we weren't allowed to play on the hill behind the playground because one time someone tripped and broke her arm, STILL BITTER, you can trip and break your arm anywhere, I am just saying.

But it was all over children's media, and it led to massive playground overhauls where they started, in the opinion of my eight-year-old self, ruining all the playgrounds by getting rid of the fun playground equipment that could kill you. All the teeter totters disappeared, and a lot of the merry-go-rounds, and those awesome swings at the school near my grandparents' house that looked kind of like horses and probably knocked out the teeth of unwary students who walked behind the swing at an inopportune moment.

I read an article recently in The Atlantic, The Overprotected Kid, which is worth reading in its entirety - but the part that relates to this book is that this massive and extremely expensive playground overhaul has, at best, only marginally lowered playground accident rates. Kids have an extremely fertile capacity for wringing risk and danger from unpromisingly safe playground equipment. Just ask me about the time we started climbing out of the twirly slide, twenty feet off the ground, for the pleasure of shimmying down the playground pole instead.
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
[personal profile] sovay
I don't understand Facebook's algorithms. Independent of any pages shared by my friends, it keeps presenting me with this photo of violinist Gil Shaham, upcoming guest of the BSO, and I cannot tell if it thinks that I am the sort of person who listens to classical music (true) or the sort of person who thinks this particular musician is great-looking (also true) and in either case I have no money for the symphony and extant commitments on one of the days he's playing anyway, but I still want to know which data they were farming to produce this result. Seriously, it's been every time I go to check in on the news. I'm not complaining, but I am impressed.

Gil Shaham


(I did not make it to the Brattle's screening of A Matter of Life and Death (1946), so the question of whether I find David Niven as beautiful in that movie as Andrew Moor does will have to wait for another time.)

Finished with the bag!

Sep. 29th, 2017 08:09 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
Carefully cut out the superman logo. Carefully started sewing. Realized I'd carelessly put it wrong side up (that is, the side with the ink). Ripped out the stitches, flipped it - d'oh! Silly me, I should've flipped it when I drew it!

Well, it's done now. Thankfully, I expected errors and bought a lot of extra felt.

The funny thing is that all his classmates, their families just drew on the bags with Sharpies. His mom asked me to do it due to lack of time, but I can't draw! I even had somebody else do the stencils for me! So now it looks like I put in way more effort than anybody else (despite the fact that I can see all the errors glaring out at me), but really, I just can't draw. Cutting and sewing is a LOT easier for me.
osprey_archer: (books)
[personal profile] osprey_archer
Ta-Nehisi Coates' We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy is a depressing book, not because Coates is a pessimist - although Coates is in fact deeply pessimistic - but because, confirmed pessimist though he is, he still wasn't pessimistic enough to believe that Trump could actually win the presidency.

Also, the book is a collection of essays from the Obama era, and just reading them drives home what a different world when live in now. Remember when you didn't have to brace yourself for every single news cycle? When you could be cautiously optimistic that change might be change for the better, rather than bitterly aware that any change will almost certainly be for the worse and the best we can possibly hope for is that nothing changes at all? When the president didn't communicate mainly in the form of embarrassing tweets?

Yeah, I try to block that time out of my mind too. The contrast to today is too painful.

If you can withstand the pain, however, this is a good and thought-provoking book. One thing that has stuck with me (during the month that I have procrastinated in writing this review because of the aforementioned misery factor) is Coates' repeatedly reference to a strand in black conservative thought that looks back nostalgically on segregation, not because segregation per se was so wonderful but because (according to this strand of thought; Coates has doubts that this nostalgia is founded in reality) it's seen as a time of strong community bonds, when outside hostility forced the community to really work together and look out for itself etc. etc.

It reminds me of a bit in Sebastian Junger's book Tribe, when he mentions some recent graffiti in, IIRC, Kosovo: "Things were better when they were really bad." As in, things were better in the old days when we were trapped in a terrible war, because at least then the enemy was outside, and we were all working together within. (I have no idea how well this reflects the objective reality of wartime Kosovo, mind; human memory is malleable.)

It's just striking to me that humans find connection and togetherness so important that these things will, at least in memory, become the most important aspect of a horrible situation. Nothing bonds people like enduring adversity together.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
I dreamed I was in Providence last night, visiting friends who don't exist in waking life. There was no particular occasion—I hadn't seen them in months, NecronomiCon notwithstanding. I had brought one of them a ring I had found in a thrift store in Boston. It looked like heavy gold with a blurred device on the signet and chips of emerald down the band; I thought it was costume jewelry. It had been priced accordingly. The girl at the register hadn't been able to tell me where it came from. I almost tossed it to my friend as we walked through Burnside Park, telling him it had looked like his style. He didn't even put it on: he turned it over once or twice and dropped onto the nearest bench like someone had kicked his feet out from under him and burst into tears. I thought at one point he said, "How could you do this to me?" but I didn't have an answer and I wasn't sure he was asking me. When he left without looking at me, he left the ring resting on the bench behind him. I put it back in my pocket. I went back to their house. He was there helping his partner prepare dinner; no one said anything about it. I can do something with this dream, I think. [personal profile] spatch asked me months ago if I had ever written Lovecraftian noir and I couldn't think of a way to do it without being cheap or clichéd or ripping other authors off: I might have dreamed myself a way in. I just wish I could think of things that don't require research.

1. Thank you, question mark, Facebook, for pointing me toward this teeth-grinding article: Zoe Willams, "Yes, yes, yes! Welcome to the golden age of slutty cinema." I was a little wary of the opening, but then we reached the following claim—

"On the big screen, we look to the 1930s and 40s – rightly – for an object lesson in how to make a female character with depth, verve, wit and intelligence, but to expect those women to shag around would be unreasonable, anachronistic."

—and I blew a fuse. Can I chase after the author screaming with a copy of Baby Face (1933)? Or the bookstore clerk from The Big Sleep (1946)? Pre-Code cinema in general? A stubborn and sneaky percentage of Hollywood even after the ascendance of the Production Code? "It is a radical act," William writes, "which every film generation thinks they are the first to discover: to create characters who are not good people"—well, apparently every generation of film critics thinks they discovered it, too. I wrote on Facebook that I was reminded of the conversation between an ATS driver and her prospective mother-in-law in Leslie Howard's The Gentle Sex (1943), where the younger woman declares proudly that "for the first time in English history, women are fighting side by side with the men" and the older woman quietly lets fall the fact that she served as an ambulance driver on the front lines of the last war. Just because the young women of the rising generation don't know about the social advances of their mothers doesn't mean they didn't happen. Just because the author of this article lives in a retrograde era doesn't mean the onscreen representation of morally ambiguous women is some kind of millenial invention. It's so easy to think that the past was always more conservative, more blinkered, more backwards than the present. It's comforting. It's dangerous. It permits the belief that things just get better, magically, automatically, without anyone having to fight to move forward or hold ground already won. Once you recognize that the past, even briefly, got here first, it's a lot harder to feel superior for just being alive now. We can't afford it and anyway it isn't true.

2. Apropos of nothing except that I was listening to Flanders and Swann, I am very glad that I discovered them before reading Margery Allingham, otherwise I might have thought she invented "The Youth of the Heart." It's quoted in a scene in The Beckoning Lady (1955)—correctly attributed, but her books are so full of fictional artists and musicians that when I read of "Lili Ricki, the new Swedish Nightingale, singing Sydney Carter's lovely song against a lightening sky," I might have easily had the Avocado of Death problem and assumed she made them both up. As it is, I know the song from a recording of Swann performing it solo as part of At the Drop of a Hat in 1957, since he wrote the music. And I was reminded of Allingham because there's a copy of Traitor's Purse (1941) on Howard's bookshelves in Howard the Duck (1986). I assume someone in the props department was a fan.

3. The Somerville Theatre has announced its repertory schedule for October. I am sad that the double feature of James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is the same night that [personal profile] rushthatspeaks and I already have plans to see William Wellman's Beggars of Life (1928) at the HFA, but I am looking forward mightily to the triple feature of Psycho (1960), Psycho II (1983), and Psycho III (1986), because it is the Saturday before my birthday and five and a half hours of Anthony Perkins seems like a good preemptive birthday present to me. I have never seen Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963), either, or Anna Biller's The Love Witch (2016), and I always like Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead (2004). I know Brad Anderson's Session 9 (2001) was shot at the derelict Danvers State Hospital before it was demolished for condos, a decision which I hope is literally haunting the developers to this day. Anyone with opinions about the rest of this lineup?

I am off to write letters to politicians.

Remix Revival and Coronation Ceremony

Sep. 24th, 2017 09:47 am
zdenka: A woman touching open books, with loose pages blowing around her (book guardian)
[personal profile] zdenka
Remix Revival, an exchange for fic and art remixes, has just revealed authors/artists. Read more... )

Another exchange, currently still anonymous: Coronation Ceremony, for The Goblin Emperor fic and art. I liked a bunch of things (including some fun geeky science stuff), but these two pictures of the (fictional) historical figure Lisethu Pevennin, a woman who led a rebellion against the emperor of her time, can be enjoyed without canon knowledge.

Read more... )

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