June 28th, 2017
gramarye1971: sun setting behind a spreading tree in the Hell dimenson (Jigoku Shoujo: Sunset World)
There are times when you have to take a plot bunny out behind the shed and quietly do away with it before it eats everything in sight. So when I was hit with an awful, soul-crushing fusion idea for Yuri!!! on Ice and Puella Magi Madoka Magica -- in which Yuri Plisetsky is essentially Akemi Homura, a once sweet and charming child turned bitter and cold-hearted by a thousand failed timeloops in which he's been unable to stop his friends from dying or turning into witches -- I had to bash out this ficlet and throttle the concept at the source.

(Tidied up from the original anon posting at F_FA. Title from the Madoka ending theme, Magia by Kalafina. Some text modified from Madoka EP 10. Warning for Madoka-canon-typical violent character death.)

You can go back in time, right, Yurio? )

I have no intention of writing more of this, because did I mention that it would be soul-crushing? *goes to toss it at AO3 and then lie down for a while*
newredshoes: midcentury modern swallow (<3 | circumnavigator)
posted by [personal profile] newredshoes at 01:09pm on 28/06/2017 under ,
Please allow me to just scream for a minute that my Wonder Woman/WWI story got linked by SyFy?!?!???

Also today in link round-ups, a new Things I'm Verbing: Cultural memory, peanut stew and how to be a better gentrifier.

Also related to Wonder Woman, if you've heard all kinds of Jew-hating bullshit about Gal Gadot "notching her rifle for Palestinians she's killed" and the like, this is a good rebuttal and full explanation of what Gadot's ~support for the IDF actually entails. See also. Yes, I'm still cranky about the Chicago Dyke March bullshit. This op-ed has a quite harsh take on intersectionality itself, but the basic point, that intersectionality as practiced is often antagonistic or indifferent to Jewish issues, is true to my experience. UGH. Okay. Gonna go draft that essay on Jewishness and who gets to be beautiful that I've been mulling over ever since Jenny Slate got together with Captain America.
tempestsarekind: (very few dates in this history)
UGH. I hate it when Shakespeare (the person) shows up in historical fiction novels where he was NOT SUPPOSED TO BE and really has no business being. Like, if he is not going to bring anything to this party, let the man stay home, you know?
June 27th, 2017
newredshoes: midcentury modern swallow (<3 | circumnavigator)
Okay. Okay, this thing that I've been pouring hours into for more than month -- it's here. It's finally live. I am so proud of it. I am already thrilled and overwhelmed by its reception!! It definitely started with a late-night annoyed tweet, and now it's a 2,000-word examination of how and why we form and curate cultural memory. Thanks, Wonder Woman!

"Why Do So Few Hollywood Movies Take Place During WWI?" - Pacific Standard (a very big deal!!)
Going to the movies became a ubiquitous means of participating in patriotic culture closer to World War II. The Great Depression halted most memorial-building in its tracks, as memorials required huge local investments. In the 1910s, when movie palaces were still new, they became sites of moral panic for civic and community leaders concerned about sexual looseness and the corruption of American youth, even as only about one-third of the total population attended each week. However, by the 1920s, that number rose to half, and, by the 1930s, two-thirds of Americans took weekly trips to the movies. During WWII, studios supplied hundreds of fictional films torn from the headlines.

Simple, hagiographic narratives about the war predominated. In titles like So Proudly We Hail! (1943), Hell Is for Heroes (1962), and Saving Private Ryan (1999), WWII was "the good war," waged by the U.S. to crush fascism and imperialism. Hollywood did work closely with the War Department to produce pro-war documentaries during the war. But, historically, even films that are not government-funded, or those that have questioned American wars, have largely refused to condemn those who fight it. It is perhaps easier for film studios to sell a vision of Americans as principled heroes fending off all-threatening evil, rather than naïve young men fighting in a conflict of ambiguous nobility.
There's so much more! I got to talk to some amazing people! My job doesn't pay bupkis but the work can be so good!! (And if you feel inclined to share, you can credit me at [twitter.com profile] ejbergdahl.)
June 26th, 2017
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
I keep being tempted to come up with new headlines for this article, like, "Let's all celebrate a man's mediocrity!" or "Being male means never having to live up to your potential in order to still have people devote time and energy to you."

It's time to bring Branwell, the dark Brontë, into the light
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/26/its-time-to-bring-branwell-the-dark-bronte-into-the-light

I think this was the paragraph that really made my eyelid twitch:

Branwell’s imaginative terrain was vast and impressive. He had the ability to rework a variety of histories and literary genres, immersing himself in an imaginative world that showcases a sophisticated interpretation of the world around him. Yet, despite this engagement, his writings are often derivative and undisciplined, often degenerating into a rambling stream of consciousness. If nothing else, however, these early years saw Branwell as an instrumental figure that inspired his sisters to harness their own imaginations and opinions. Branwell’s contribution was influencing his sisters to become the perceptive, avant-garde writers we know. (my emphasis)


Ugh. So…he wasn't actually good at writing, is what you're telling me, but we should talk about him more anyway?

The thing is, I don't even really have any opinions about Branwell, ordinarily. It's just that every time I hear about him, it's usually someone trying to make him central to the successes of his sisters, or focusing on him and his antics rather than on the creativity and artistic discipline of, you know, the Brontes who actually had flourishing literary careers. (The recent TV costume drama about the Brontes, To Walk Invisible, was regrettably guilty of this, passing over the composition of whole novels in an eyeblink while spending whole scenes on Branwell's conning their father out of money to spend on liquor.) I'm not saying that we should never talk or think about Branwell; rather, I feel like he gets talked about all the time - and maybe out of proportion to his actual accomplishments. It's that same insidious desire we seem to be afflicted with, culturally: we rack our brains to figure out ways to make a man responsible for a woman's literary successes - whether it's spending ages trying to work out who the "Master" of Emily Dickinson's poems might be, or making whole movies devoted to the idea that Jane Austen only became a novelist because Tom Lefroy recommended Tom Jones to her and broke her heart, to this. Why is it so hard to give these women their due? It's just dressing up the Victorian idea that Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell could never really have been women in slightly more modern clothing: a man had to have had his hand in the thing, somewhere.
June 25th, 2017
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
posted by [personal profile] skygiants at 02:15pm on 25/06/2017 under
I have never read Dhalgren or indeed any Samuel R. Delaney. However, as of yesterday I have at least had a Dhalgren Experience, thanks to [personal profile] aamcnamara, who turned up a local theatrical-dance-music-light-'architectural puppetry' performance of something called Dhalgren: Sunrise this weekend.

Dhalgren: Sunrise is comprised of bits of text from what I assume is Dhalgren the book, accompanied by dance, light, and music, almost all of it improvised. Also, some of the music was performed on imaginary instruments. "That must be a theremin!" I thought brightly to myself on seeing one of the instruments, mostly because I don't know what a theremin looks like and therefore I assume that any instrument I don't recognize is a theremin. But it turns out it was not a theremin, because there was a credit in the program for 'invented instruments,' though I don't know whether the one I saw was the Diddly Bow, the Bass Llamelophone, or the Autospring.

Anyway, so my new understanding of Dhalgren is that it is about a city in which Weird, Fraught and Inexplicable Things Are Happening. This is not a very thorough understanding, but it's still more of an understanding than I had before. The show is composed of seven scene-vignettes:

Prelude: A brief reading of [what I assume to be] the book's introduction.

Orchid: Three women dance on a bridge and a man acquires a prosthetic hand-weapon-implement. The director at the end gave special thanks to the dude who made it, understandably so, because it very effectively exuded Aura of Sinister!

Scorpions: Gang members dance and fight in front of a building? Alien gang members? Just aliens? Anyway, some entities wrapped in glowing lights have a dance fight in front of a building; the text is from the point of view of a worried inhabitant of the building who Has Concerns.

Moons: The moon has a new secondary moon friend named George. The dancing in this section was one of my favorite bits -- the Moon did some amazing things with her light-strung hula hoop. [personal profile] aamcnamara pointed out later that the narration in this bit, which featured a wry and dubious radio announcer, seemed like a perhaps-intentional echo of Welcome to Night Vale. I have never actually listened to Welcome to Night Vale, but from my cultural osmosis knowledge this seems about right.

Fire: The light show took front and center in this bit about everything being on fire and also, simultaneously, not on fire. The maintenance man doing the narration is very plaintive about all of this. There may also have been dancing in this bit but I don't remember what anyone was doing.

Sex: The guy with the sinister prosthesis has an intimate encounter with two other people inside a blanket fort. I always like the blanket-fort method of showing sex onstage, it hints appropriately while allowing actors not to have to do anything they're uncomfortable with. At some point in this process the sinister prosthesis is removed for the first time, which I expect symbolizes something about human connection.

Sunrise: The characters who have previously just had sex emerge from the building and now seem to have a difference of opinion about whether the sunrise is just normal, or whether the earth is actually falling into the sun. Eventually all the characters are onstage being distressed, along with the music and the lighting -- again, really cool light effects here, especially the final overwhelming projection of light followed by and darkness.

It's a one-hour show without intermission, which we all agreed afterwards was for the best; the deeply weird mood and atmosphere would have been difficult to slip back into if one could get up in the middle to go to the bathroom. For those of you who have actually read Dhalgren, I will leave you with [personal profile] aamcnamara's sum-up: "It was a strange experience, but honestly could have been stranger."
newredshoes: cartoon lady in vintage-y/goth get-up (<3 | a good aesthetic)
After going around to all the skate shops I could find in Brooklyn (excluding Williamsburg, because ugh, so far away) and Lower Manhattan, I've decided to just stick with my skate school that's two miles away and nice and trustworthy. I just called the owner/founder, and he says that I can order the deck (the main body) online and bring it in to outfit with the rest of the necessities, if I don't see something I love that they have in stock.

Which means I have a couple of decisions to make, and they're hard, so I'm putting it to a vote. Help me out, friends -- there are no bad options, so which one should I get?

A bunch of pictures, some of which are new )

Poll #18526 Help me buy a skateboard for my birthday
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 29


Which two (2) win for you?

View Answers

'90s Spaceman
7 (24.1%)

Creature Kills!
10 (34.5%)

Good Motel at Sunset
13 (44.8%)

Deshi - magenta/blue wrench
8 (27.6%)

Oyola - cream wrench
1 (3.4%)

Coakley - '40s planes
13 (44.8%)

June 24th, 2017
skygiants: Jadzia Dax lounging expansively by a big space window (daxanova)
posted by [personal profile] skygiants at 05:08pm on 24/06/2017 under ,
Our adventures with Star Wars: The Clone Wars continue! Though, alas, those of many of our clone buddies do not.

Episodes 11-20 of Season 1 under the cut )
June 21st, 2017
skygiants: Drosselmeyer's old pages from Princess Tutu, with text 'rocks fall, everyone dies, the end' (endings are heartless)
posted by [personal profile] skygiants at 07:36pm on 21/06/2017 under ,
I recently reread Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death. It remains an onslaught of a book, although being somewhat braced for the barrage of ANGER INJUSTICE GENOCIDE GONNA DESTROY A WHOLE CITY NOW does allow a little more time to, uh, stop and appreciate the occasional non-fraught thing that happens along the way? Onyesonwu makes friends with a camel at one point! That's nice!

(...for the record, my review from 2010 seems to indicate that at the time I understood and appreciated what happened at the end. Well, good job, past self, because my present self has no idea. Spoilers ))

Anyway! Rereading Who Fears Death got me thinking about the kind of books that are constructed around an ancient lore or a knowledge of the world that turns out to be fundamentally wrong, cultures constructed around poisoned lies. The Fifth Season is the other immediate example that springs to mind of a book like this -- not that there aren't other parallels between The Fifth Season and Who Fears Death. It seems to me that I ought to be able to think of more, but since I can't I'm sure you guys can.

When I mentioned this to [personal profile] genarti, she immediately said "YA dystopia! Fallout!" and that's true, a lot of dystopias are built around a Fundamentally Flawed Premise that has been imposed upon the innocent population by a dictatorial government. Those feel a little different to me, though, maybe just because that sort of dystopia very clearly grows out of our own world. We know from the beginning how to judge truth and lies, we're WAY AHEAD of our naive heroine who believes the color blue is evil because the government put an inexplicable ban on it. But Who Fears Death, while it may be set in our future, is in a future so distant from our own that there's no particular tracing back from it, and The Fifth Season is another world altogether, and we don't have any home court advantage over the protagonists as they figure out where the lies are except a belief that something that poisonous has to be wrong; maybe that's the difference.
June 19th, 2017
newredshoes: Art by <user name="kellyvivanco" site="tumblr.com"> (<3 | girl with her hair in knots)
Do you ever re-read something you wrote ages ago and just -- want it back? want to be doing more? I mean, obviously I feel this a lot, but today I saw that the [livejournal.com profile] thisengland Shakespeare Histories Ficathon is starting up soon for its 10th year, and then I became overwhelmed with Percys feelings, and then I reread my sole contribution to the challenge, "A Mouth-Filling Oath," which takes place on the docks of 1950s London and everyone (but Hal, of course) is working class. I so love that narrative voice I found, even if I'm fairly certain it bears no resemblance to any English spoken every day. Strong narrative voices make writing so much easier, incredibly so, and I want to seize or discover one for other projects, but I never really set aside the time to try, which frustrates me about myself. There also seems to be a popular idea going around now that you shouldn't talk about your projects or you'll just talk them to death, and I get that, but it seems at odds with having a writing community, in some ways?

So yeah, that's a thing I've got to push myself on more. (Meanwhile, I'm going to not spend my time rolling around in old [personal profile] valiantrebel logs. Not for long, anyway.) The notes came back from my WW/WWI story and THEY ARE GOOD AND VERY MINIMAL, WHAT, so I need to get those turned around and also work on my second story and also work on a third and fourth story for the month. There's been this gigantic weird storm this afternoon, and right now the sunset is doing weird things with the light, but I see a full rainbow outside my window with gray clouds and peach light lighting up all the windows and bricks. The storm is also probably responsible for the hard nap I took earlier, with, again, extremely vivid dreams (partly about being some kind of shapeshifter with the ability to stop something VERY BAD from happening, but being kept from it somehow; partly about being back in Athens with both parents at a huge gala event for us, and I was being given snakes and I was delighted). I rewatched the S1 finale of The Magicians, which I hadn't seen in quite some time, and I had forgotten many things, chief among them how fucking hot Eliot Waugh's everything is. Goddammit, Hale Appleman, tall, beaky, elegant Jews who can do a courtly bow past their own knees is MY SEXUALITY, APPARENTLY. I just spent like 20 minutes trying to find a GIF on Tumblr and now I'm like, this shit is not going to get me back on Tumblr. Okay. Anyway. Phew. Hello.

ETA WAIT, I FOUND THE MOMENT.
skygiants: Jadzia Dax lounging expansively by a big space window (daxanova)
posted by [personal profile] skygiants at 09:12am on 19/06/2017 under ,
I knew I probably should have written up A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet before I read the sequel, because I loved A Closed and Common Orbit SO MUCH that now there is no way I can do justice to the first book.

I mean, A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is certainly a lot of fun! It feels a bit more like a season of television than a novel -- very much out of that genre of beloved, relatively lighthearted crew-is-family space TV, full of aliens and semi-incidental interstellar politics, with approximately one episode dedicated to each crew member's interesting alien culture or surprise dramatic backstory as well as episodes where Everyone Just Goes On A Shopping Trip. There is a Noble Captain, a Friendly Polyamorous Lizard Alien Second-in-Command, an Earnest Financial Assistant, a Manic Mechanic, a Caring Chef Who Feeds Other Species To Compensate For The Embarrassing Genocidal Tendencies Of His Own -- ok, some of the archetypes are more archetypal than others. In the dramatic season finale, our plucky band of space truckers reaches their long-haul destination at last and becomes involved in a major diplomatic incident, the outcome of which is the one thing in the book that rubbed me slightly the wrong way ) Anyway, if you like this sort of thing, you will almost certainly like this particular thing.

I like this sort of thing all right but the things A Closed and Common Orbit is doing appeal to my id MUCH more. A Closed and Common Orbit focuses on two characters who appear relatively briefly in A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet: Sidra, an AI who, due to compelling personal circumstances but counter to interstellar law, has been installed in a designed-to-be-instinguishable-from-human artificial body; and Pepper, the mechanic who has volunteered to take on responsibility for her.

The main present-day thread of the story involves Sidra's attempts to figure out whether she can comfortably inhabit a body that she was never designed to inhabit - not just whether she can live permanently as something like an independent intelligent biological life-form without giving herself away, but whether she wants to do so. The plot is mostly comprised of small slice-of-life events like Sidra Makes A New Friend or Sidra Considers Getting A Tattoo, all interwoven into a really compelling and thoughtful examination of artificial intelligence, self-determination, and free will.

The other half the book delves into Pepper's backstory as an artificially created human being, designed to be cheap disposable labor. As a child, "Jane 23" mostly-accidentally escapes the factory where she labors, and is subsequently raised by an abandoned ship's AI in a junkyard. The backstory plot does a couple of things: a.) serves as an excellent example of the always-compellingly-readable 'half-feral child must make home in dangerous environment, survives with ingenuity and a box of scraps' genre; b.) works in dialogue with Sidra's main plotline to complicate ideas of 'human' and 'artificial' and 'purpose' and 'free will'; c.) gives me FIVE MILLION FEELINGS ABOUT AI MOMS WHO LOVE YOU. Sometimes a family is an AI mom, her genetically engineered daughter, the daughter's boyfriend, their AI roommate, and the roommate's alien friend who honestly didn't even particularly want to be there that day! AND THAT'S BEAUTIFUL.
tempestsarekind: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tempestsarekind at 09:44am on 19/06/2017 under
An enjoyable piece on recipes by Bee Wilson:

Social media and the great recipe explosion: does more mean better?
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/18/great-recipe-explosion-social-media-does-more-mean-better-instagram-pinterest
June 18th, 2017
newredshoes: Woman in religious ecstasy, surrounded by art implements (<3 | patron saint)
So my friend H. and I had A Day in Manhattan, which was delightful. We didn't end up finding a skateboard, but we did luck out tremendously in the makeup department! The hits at Sephora were nothing weird or unexpected: I got a tub of the only moisturizer that doesn't seem to instantly clog up every pore on my face, plus a full-sized version of my favorite eyebrow gel stuff, and in a better color for me at that. We also discovered this new shop that does everything cruelty-free, all-natural &c, and after a day of talking about how neither of us could find the perfect '20s darkest red for people with warm undertones, holy shit did this place deliver! (It's called "Written in Blood" by Rituel De Fille, and everything is SO GLORIOUSLY WITCHY for that brand!) Credo Beauty, you were not terrifyingly expensive after all, and I am so yea mightily pleased.

The goal was to hit up three skate shops, but we only really made it to one, which was friendly but not really my style, while the second closed right as we got there (but it looked really douchey, so I'm not all that sad to miss it). There are two other shops in Manhattan that I want to hit up, one called Labor, which is on the Lower East Side (and thus a possibility before my small claims hearing on Tuesday?), and the other called Uncle Funky's, which I appreciate; it's in the West Village, almost to the Hudson River, not too far from the Stonewall Inn. Then there's KCDC in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), which could be helpful for meeting up with my friend in Greenpoint who has my nice phone charger and biking shades. So. I'm plotting, is what I'm saying.

What I should be doing is finishing up that article for Pacific Standard, which my editor expects... by tomorrow morning, more or less. Instead, I'm going to let time zones help me out a little and share some neat decks that I found this evening.

More skateboards, including one that might be pulling ahead, design-wise )
Music:: "Fortune Teller," Robert Plant and Allison Krauss
June 17th, 2017
newredshoes: Peggy in movie theater, looking innocent (cap | just like in the talkies)
I... I just want you all to know that I watched Dr. Strange tonight.
newredshoes: (<3 | fancy)
I have an excellent new problem! I've definitely decided to keep taking the skateboarding lessons, and I now want my own board to practice on in between classes. (We learned how to flip the boards upright and hop onto them in the same motion! It's the precursor to learning ollies!) After class today, I did a tour of three shops near-ish to Prospect Park -- one in Park Slope, one in Gowanus and one in Crown Heights (which was also a florist and clothing store!). Naturally I got three pretty different answers from three pretty different dudes. One of them yelled at me for caring about what goes on the bottom of the deck, and I'd otherwise write his shop off, except somehow the board he was showing me was definitely the most beautiful-as-sports-construction one of all. Apparently there's no real online catalog you can depend on for any of the brands -- you just have to keep coming back to the skate shops and see what comes in.

Thing is, I... just don't love most of the designs? I don't care about pot, or late '80s/early '90s cartoon styles, or edgy altered candy wrappers. I feel like I want something either colorful or really nicely monochrome.

Wait, hang on, as I was trying to pick out examples, I discovered Skateboard Instagram and now I have a whole bunch of good tabs open. To Photobucket, to nab them!

So much nicer than my last photo post! )

So, okay, skateboards that please me aesthetically certainly do exist. Now to deal with my other big problem: this sourdough bread recipe, which I'm trying with two different flours, but both of which have come out so runny they're basically both batter. That was the same result for my first stab at this recipe, which came out delicious but more flatbread-like than anything. Any of you have a preferred sourdough recipe that begins with starter? I know it's supposed to be a wet dough, but I suspect this recipe would work better with a bread pan, which I do not have.

Tragic side note: I have, for the third year in a row, missed the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island. In my defense, it was POURING rain from noon onward, and the thing started at 1, and I figured since I was already beyond soaking, I might as well do my skate shop tour instead. Not too sorry; riding your bike in the rain, especially through a deserted Prospect Park, with all its singing trees, is glorious every time.

Proof of hilarious wetness )
Music:: "Girl Is On My Mind," The Black Keys

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