selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
([personal profile] selenak Sep. 20th, 2017 12:07 pm)
Two filmed novels in, the tv version of JKR's written-as-Robert-Galbraith mystery novels called Strike comes across as very enjoyable. Holiday Grainger is a delight as Robin, Tom Burke still isn't how I imagined Cormoran Strike, but he's entertaining to watch, and they have good chemistry. Inevitably, characters and subplots were for the axe in both Cuckoo's Call and The Silkworm, but so far they've kept the important emotional beats. In the case of The Silkworm, I'm especially glad my favourite sentence of the entire novel gets to be used in dialogue, though a different character gets to say it on tv: Writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels."

Of the guest stars, the actresses playing Leonora and Orlando were especially good. I do notice that some of the sharpness of the novels is lost when it comes to politics. I mean, The Silkworm, the novel, has passages like this: : Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, was announcing plans to slash 350 million pounds from the legal aid budget. Strike watched through his haze of tiredness as the florid, paunchy man told Parliament that he wished to 'discourage people from restoring to lawyers whenever they face a problem, and instead encourage them to consider more suitable methods of dispute resolution.' He meant, of course, that poor people ought to relinquish the services of the law. Nothing like it on tv. But the result still doesn't feel as awfully castrated as the tv version of The Casual Vacancy, which lost all the bite and anger and ruined what might not have been a masterpiece but was a novel with genuine points to raise by turning it into inoffensive blandness, more angry reviews here, possibly because such asides aren't the main issue in the Galbraith novels.

In other news, [community profile] missy_fest has been revealing one Missy story per day-ish. This was the smallest ficathon I ever participated in, but a delight to write and read, and as soon as it's de-anonymized, I'm going to link and talk about the story I wrote. Meanwhile, check out the one I received, which was The Master's Faithful Companion (Forever or Just A Day Remix), which remixed my story Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
morbane: uletide mod image of guinea pig among daisies (mod)
([personal profile] morbane posting in [community profile] yuletide_admin Sep. 20th, 2017 04:45 pm)
We have been working on the tag set for 102.5 hours, and the number of individual fandom nominations has gone down from 5058 to 1660. There are 2054 approved fandoms now in the tag set.

Thank you for your answers to the previous queries! We have some more, and some lingering:


Дуэлянт | The Duelist (2016) - We can't find Pyotr Yakovlev's brother. Could the nominator please confirm he appears in the film?

Extraction (2013) - We can't find a Victor. Could the nominator please confirm he appears in the film?

灵契 | Ling Qi | Spiritpact - This has been nominated with overlapping characters, using Japanese and Chinese names respectively: You Keika, Tanmoku Ki, Tanmoku Rakugetsu, and You Nei; and Yang Jinghua, Duanmu Xi, Duanmu Siming, and Qin Siyao. Could each nominator please confirm which media they mean, and can we please combine these character names using one of the versions?

No Game No Life - Kamiya Yuu - we're a little confused by the character 『 』| Kuuhaku | Blank. Could the nominator please give their reasoning for nominating this character separately?

A Place to Call Home (TV) - We can't find the character Tom. Could the nominator please give us a pointer?

Plantagenets Series - Sharon Kay Penman - For Geoffrey Plantagenet, could the nominator please confirm they mean Geoffrey V Count of Anjou, or some other character?

Six of Crows Series - Leigh Bardugo - It's not clear to us that Nikolai Lantsov belongs here. Could the nominator please give us their reasoning?

Smosh - the characters nominated are Keith Leak Jr., Noah Grossman, Olivia Sui, and Shayne Topp. Could the nominator please clarify if this is a nomination for RPF, or for fictionalized characters that share the names of the real people?

Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle - Georgette Heyer For Lady Marlow, could the nominator please confirm whether they mean Lady Verena Marlow or Lady Constance Marlow?

These Old Shades - Georgette Heyer - As far as we can tell, Dominic Alastair does not appear in this book. (He is also nominated in The Devil's Cub.) Could the nominator please give their reasoning for nominating him here?

Trial and Error (TV 2017) - We can't find the character Anne Cox. Could the nominator please confirm and give us pointers to when she appeared?


All Media Types fandoms
We need clarification from the person (or people) who nominated the following fandoms. Please specify a single version of the canon and provide a link to your nominations page so we can confirm the nomination. If these aren't answered, the fandoms will be rejected:
  • Gone With the Wind - All Media Types, characters: Belle Watling, Careen O'Hara, Mammy, Melanie Hamilton (Gone with the Wind - All Media Types)

  • The Martian - All Media Types, characters: Beth Johanssen, Chris Beck, Mark Watney (The Martian - All Media Types)

  • A Room With a View - All Media Types, characters: Charlotte Bartlett, Eleanor Lavish

  • The Witches of Eastwick - All Media Types, characters: Alexandra Medford, Darryl Van Horne, Jane Spofford, Sukie Ridgemont [if we don't hear back from the nominator on this one, we may go with the 1987 film]


Ensemble characters
We will accept labels like “the Council” or “the hunters” for characters in cases where the ensemble does not have different distinct characters in it. For the following fandoms, please either confirm that there are no distinct characters in the group, or pick a single character out of the group you’ve nominated.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (TV 2016) - The Rowdy 3

  • The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy - The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel

  • Velvet Goldmine - Flaming Creatures


Ineligible RPF fandoms
The follow RPF fandoms are too large and will not be approved. Nominators, please suggest an alternative category; if we do not hear from you, we may either fold the characters into another nominated category, or reject the fandoms & characters.
  • Formula 1 RPF - characters: Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna

  • Pop Music RPF - characters: Beyoncé Knowles, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake



If you are commenting about your own nomination to say what you would like done with characters or fandoms, please link your nominations page! It is the page you get by clicking ‘My Nominations’ from the tag set.

If you notice any problems with your approved nominations - mis-spellings, etc - feel free to comment on this post.
selenak: (uptonogood - c.elisa)
([personal profile] selenak Sep. 18th, 2017 01:31 pm)
1. Norma Bates (Bates Motel version)

2. Philip Jennings (The Americans)

3. Missy (aka Gomez!Master) (Doctor Who)

4. Jimmy McGill (Better Call Saul)

5. Rachel Duncan (Orphan Black)

6. James McGraw/Captain Flint (Black Sails)

7. Ahsoka Tano (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

8. Bernie Gunther (Philip Kerr: The Bernie Gunther Mysteries)

9. Sarah Connor (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)

10. Alfred of Wessex (The Last Kingdom)

11. Andra'ath/Miss Quill (Class)

12. Londo Mollari (Babylon 5)

13. Phyllis Crane (Call the Midwife)

14. Doc Holliday (Wynona Earp incarnation)

15. Jessica Jones (MCU version)

And you came up with some awesome prompts!

Now the questions: )
morbane: Utena Shadow Girls Santa picture with text "absolute destiny apocalypse yuletide" (Utena)
([personal profile] morbane posting in [community profile] yuletide_admin Sep. 18th, 2017 10:31 am)
We have been working on the tag set for 36 hours, and the number of individual fandom nominations has gone down from 5058 to 3086. There are 1076 approved fandoms now in the tag set*.


Please help us with the following issues and queries!

Wheel of Time - Robert Jordan - Both Elan Morin Tedroni and Ishamael | Moridin are nominated; other Forsaken are nominated with their original names. Please either explain why you think they should be separated out, or confirm we can approve both tags as Elan Morin Tedroni.

Expert Judgment on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion... - Sandia Labs - As far as we can tell, Color Changing Cat is not actually from this canon, but a different exercise in considering the problems of long-term nuclear waste storage - see http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_eye/2014/05/14/_99_percent_invisible_by_roman_mars_designing_warning_symbols_for_the_nation.html. Could you please let us know if we’ve missed the cats, or if there’s another reason you believe they should be included.


Ensemble characters
We will accept labels like “the Council” or “the hunters” for characters in cases where the ensemble does not have different distinct characters in it. For the following fandoms, please either confirm that there are no distinct characters in the group, or pick a single character out of the group you’ve nominated.

  • Captive Prince - C. S. Pacat: Veretian Council

  • The Darkness (Comics): Darklings (The Darkness)

  • 終末のイゼッタ | Shuumatsu no Izetta | Izetta: The Last Witch (Anime): The Royal Guard


All Media Types fandoms
We need clarification from the person (or people) who nominated the following fandoms. Please specify a single version of the canon and provide a link to your nominations page so we can confirm the nomination. If these aren't answered, the fandoms will be rejected:
  • Captain Scarlet - All Media Types, characters: Adam Svenson | Captain Blue, Charles Gray | Colonel White, Conrad Turner | Captain Black, Paul Metcalfe | Captain Scarlet

  • Gone With the Wind - All Media Types, characters: Belle Watling, Careen O'Hara, Mammy, Melanie Hamilton (Gone with the Wind - All Media Types)

  • Goosebumps - All Media Types, characters: Cooper Holmes (The Barking Ghost), Drew Brockman (Attack of the Jack-O-Lanterns), Ginger Wald (The Beast From the East), Michael Webster (The Cuckoo Clock of Doom)

  • The Martian - All Media Types, characters: Beth Johanssen, Chris Beck, Mark Watney (The Martian - All Media Types)

  • Midsomer Murders - All Media Types, characters: Jamie Winter, Kam Karimore

  • A Room With a View - All Media Types, characters: Charlotte Bartlett, Eleanor Lavish

  • The Witches of Eastwick - All Media Types, characters: Alexandra Medford, Darryl Van Horne, Jane Spofford, Sukie Ridgemont


If you are commenting about your own nomination to say what you would like done with characters or fandoms, please link your nominations page! It is the page you get by clicking ‘My Nominations’ from the tag set.

If you notice any problems with your approved nominations - mis-spellings, etc - feel free to comment on this post.


*(NB: that’s not because we rejected ~900, but because 5058 and 3086 are totals of how often the fandom slot was filled out by nominators - whether or not they nominated the same fandom. When we approve a fandom that was nominated by two people, the total number of fandom nominations goes down by 2, and the approved fandom total goes up by 1.)
I've acquired new fandoms and revisited some old ones since the last time I did this, thus, from [personal profile] astrogirl:


1) Make a list of fifteen characters first, and keep it to yourself for the moment.

2) Ask your f-list to post questions in the comments. For example: "One, nine, and fifteen are chosen by a prophecy to save the world from four. Do they succeed?", "Under what circumstances might five and fourteen fall in love?", "Which character on the list would you most want on your side in a zombie invasion?"

3) After your f-list has stopped asking questions, round them up and answer them using the fifteen characters you selected beforehand, then post them.

Also, this unique summary of A Legacy Of Spies cracks me up. :)
selenak: (Black Widow by Endlessdeep)
([personal profile] selenak Sep. 16th, 2017 06:47 pm)
The other day, I could hear Arundhati Roy present her new novel and talk about the situation in India today in Munich. And reinforced that by now, I'm not just bugged but disturbed by part of Kala's storyline in Sense8, because it's so exactly in contrast to Indian reality, and so exactly what a vicious government propagandist would want people to believe, that I'm starting to wonder whether the reason why the Wachowskis and JMS came up with it wasn't that they otherwise would not get permission to film in India. Spoilers for both seasons of Sense8. ) Why? Because consider the depth of current day Hindu fundamentalism from Modi (the PM) downwards. Arundhati Roy mentioned the saying "there are just two places for Muslims - the grave and Pakistan", which gets said by officials in the country with the second largest Muslim population in the world (Indonesia has the largest). People get lynched for the crime of possessing or eating beef. Modi belongs to the RSS, the same organisation Gandhi's assassin did, and the vocabulary of said assassin is now mainstream politics. A popular taunt makes the word "secular" into "sickular". An MP could say Arundhati Roy should be used as a human shield in the war in Kashmir to punish her dissent, and not get reprimanded but applauded. (For more, check out check out these statements by today's most famous Indian origin writers.) Basically: the kind of story Sense8 tells is about as likely to happen in this India as a story about, say, a rabid atheist rising in Saudi Arabia's government and starting to persecute Muslims would be. Or, to bring it closer to home, a story about a fanatic atheist becoming a US government official and starting to surpress Christians. Which, of course, is what Breitbart & Co. tell their ilk already happened under each Democratic president. ("War on Christmas", anyone?) Which tells you what type of propaganda this is.

Now don't get me wrong: I don't believe the Wachowskis and JMS are aware. At first, I thought it was simply that they wanted Kala to be a faithful believer and needed some type of conflict for her that wasn't about her not wanting to get married, picked Hinduism as the most popular Indian religion (and the one with the film friendly statues), and didn't do much research about the Indian present. But now I wonder whether they did tell some staff member to do research, and that person came back with this storyline, getting it as a condition for the crew filming Kala's story in India. Because it's just too perfect BJP propaganda to come across by accident, my inner conspiracy theorist says.

For distraction, something lighthearted:

Avengers


Up in the air, Junior Birdman: in which the Avengers (plus Maria Hill, Sam Wilson and Rhodey) go camping. Set at some point between the frst and second movie, this Natasha-centric story is ensemble-tastic, and has Bruce as co-lead.
Final number of nominations: 5058

That means that at least 1686 people nominated.

We now move into the sorting phase. Over the next days you will see the fandoms and characters you nominated being approved or rejected. You will also see us make posts here, asking for clarification.

Whenever we have enough questions for a new clarification post, we will move unanswered questions into the new post.. This is to help us keep track of which things are outstanding and prevent us from missing comments on older posts. You can help by keeping an eye on the community and helping to answer questions. The first question post will be up soon.

The evidence post is now closed, and we'll be using the evidence to review fandoms. Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit evidence.

If you are looking at your nominations page and you see that a character has been rejected, it may be that it has been approved under a different name (for example, with a fandom-specific disambiguation). Please wait until the tagset is public before raising the issue.

Lastly, please don't hammer AO3 trying to check if your fandoms have been reviewed. Doing this will only slow things down. We're not saying don’t check, but don’t sit there pressing F5. The tagset will be visible after sorting; at that point you can help us find what problems remain.
rushthatspeaks: (altarwise)
([personal profile] rushthatspeaks Sep. 16th, 2017 03:46 am)
Derek Jarman is probably my favorite film director-- the only serious competition is Ulrike Ottinger-- and in several of his books he speaks about The Last of England (1987) as his masterpiece, which of course means it's the one of his films that is impossible to get for love or money, especially if you live in the U.S..

The Brattle just screened it as part of their currently ongoing Tilda Swinton festival. Tilda Swinton, very young at the time, turned out to play England. (I probably should have expected that, but somehow I didn't.)*

He was quite right about it being a masterpiece, and, again as I should have expected from Jarman, it has had me thinking very hard about the nature and purpose of art ever since.

The Last of England is definitely a movie. It's a post-apocalyptic dystopia shot entirely using the decay of the civil infrastructure present in Thatcher's England, and I could identify a narrative-- a pair of brothers, one of whom is subverted by his attempts to subvert a balaclava-wearing, machine-gun-toting agent of the state, so that their romance causes him to wind up in a mask with a gun himself, and the other of whom winds up shot by said state agents-- and there are a lot of interesting allusions to other works of art (the opening narration at one point quotes Howl and then veers crashingly into T. S. Eliot in what is either complete literary blasphemy or the way that line was always meant to end, possibly both).** There's a year-king thing, kind of, except he doesn't get up again, and the childhood of the brothers is portrayed using home videos from Jarman's own childhood, which is fascinating because his parents were among the latest chronologically of the dyed-in-the-wool servants of the British Raj and it shows. There's a vitriolic intellectual critique of just about everything about the concepts "England" and "British".

But the thing that had me reeling and trying desperately mentally to cope is that above all, and with absolute intentionality, The Last of England is not a movie. It is a curse.

I have spent a lot of time considering evil and its relationship, if any, to art, because I try to create art myself and I feel it is a responsible thing for any artist to consider. I could get into a long digression about what I believe about evil and what I don't, but suffice it to say I do believe in evil, and the principle way I have seen evil interact with art is that subset of art which actively attempts to harm the audience, for no reason other than that it can. That sort of art can do a great deal of damage, if one runs into it at the wrong time. The other major way I have seen evil interact with art is art that is promulgating an ideology of evil, a set of beliefs which make the world decidedly worse, such as the racism of D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation.

I had never contemplated what I would think of a piece of art which is definitively opposed to an evil ideology-- Thatcherism, fascism, totalitarianism-- and which is doing everything in its power to harm, to hurt, to wreak havoc on, to destroy, and, if possible, to damn in the Biblical sense-- a set of people who are not the viewer.

When I say curse I mean it in a very old way. I mean that Derek Jarman was a great scholar, and he knew more about sixteenth- and seventeenth-century magic and alchemy than most academics, and he knew more about English witch-lore than any other authority I have ever encountered. And I don't know nearly as much about either as he did, but I know enough that this movie consistently raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I am... not quite sure that there is an attempt in and by this film to summon a specifically demonic presence. They may have been aiming for neutral. Or for angelic, and... missed, but I doubt that. I don't mean summoning in an obvious way, it's not like there are pentagrams on the floor, quite. It's done with light and fire and movement and the visual invocation of archetypes. It's done with dance and cross-dressing and other very careful costume.

And it's the precise kind of anger and pain turned into hatred that would cause a pastor to make serious inquiries as to the state of one's soul, and which might cause less theologically minded persons to mutter things about the abyss gazing back. Which is a concern Jarman eyes, and then discards, because this ideology, this thing that had happened to England under the rule of Thatcher and those around her, was to him worth that kind of hatred. And I think he came out of it all right as a human being and an artist himself, because he was objectively correct about that. But possibly only because he was objectively correct about that. The anger and pain and hatred here were so lacerating, so gorgeously done, so implacable and so beautiful that I kept wanting to hide, and it wasn't even aimed at me, he kept throwing in things to remind the audience that it isn't directed at us and honestly that does not help all that much.

Because with that sort of curse witnessing it is part of what drives it and makes it active.

I spent much of the film with some part of my mind trying to figure out if I thought it was moral to do this, to make this thing. Then I came down firmly and forever on the side that it is, because Tilda Swinton came in and played England.

We initially see Swinton's character in the memories of the one of the brothers who gets executed. She's wearing a sundress, and she's sitting in a field full of so many daffodils that it cannot read as naturalistic, even though, unlike most of the rest of the movie, the scene is shot in natural colors. She's his idealized love, that he won't ever be coming back to, and she's England itself, in both nurturing and colonialist aspects. "Don't be sad," we hear her say matter-of-factly as the bullets strike him: John Barleycorn is, after all, dead. She comes in next in full wedding dress and bridal veil, surrounded by attendants who are large and burly men dressed pretty much as Marie Antoinette, wedding a placeholder of a groom (the camera never focuses on his face) in a burned-out, rubble-strewn wreck of an industrial hangar. No dialogue, just the movements of the wedding, jerky smiles, everyone congratulating everybody else, Swinton eying a pram with an odd mixture of fear and longing. Earlier iconography has made it clear that the pram, though it does, of course, represent a baby, should also be taken to represent not a baby, but a cathexis of other ideas around fear and change and darkness.

And then we cut to Tilda Swinton outside, alone, by the water, by what looks like an industrial canal. There's a fire burning in an oil barrel next to her, a bonfire. She has scissors, and she tries to hack her way out of the wedding dress. It does not want to go. (It's really a lovely dress, by the way, in legitimately good taste, with about sixteen layers of veiling.) She rips at it with her fingers. She claws. She bites off parts of it. And these motions, without ever quite ceasing, turn themselves into a dance.

A line from a short story by Tanith Lee was running through my head during this scene, and it's still the only thing that comes to mind as anything resembling an adequate description: "... when she danced, a gate seemed to open in the world, and bright fire spangled inside it, but she was the fire."***

Have you ever seen something so transcendentally beautiful that you don't know how to think about it?

It's not just that this is the best thing Tilda Swinton has ever done on film, though it is, by such a distance that it's difficult to fathom. It's that I suspect it's one of the best things anyone has ever done on film. I am not exaggerating. Watching it is the kind of experience where you don't come away as exactly the same person.

Which she did, in full knowledge, in the service of Derek Jarman's curse.

All right, then. I consider it a moral action. Those few minutes are, by themselves, sufficient justification, and I don't see how the two of them, Jarman and Swinton, Tilda and Derek, could possibly have produced those few minutes out of hatred unless the hatred itself-- well-- to some degree contained within it all of that. Magical curses are, all the books say, perilous things, liable to come back on the caster unless their motives are completely pure. I have to take that dance as demonstration of impeccably pure motivations. I can't see what else it could be.

There are a lot of interesting things about this movie that I haven't even mentioned, of course. I finally understand why Jarman hated Peter Greenaway so much, because it turns out that for Prospero's Books, years later on, Greenaway swiped the aesthetic of some bits at the beginning of this movie that are set in Jarman's actual house and have Jarman playing himself. In fact, Greenaway even swiped Jarman's handwriting for use in his page overlays on the screen. I can see being upset by that. I would have been, too.

And there's the way almost all of the soundtrack is classical, except when it very much isn't. And the way that Jarman on several occasions intercuts between two separate scenes so quickly that persistence of vision forces you to believe that you are somehow watching both of them at the same time (well, and you get rather nauseated, which I don't think could be helped). And there's a scene with a man eating a cauliflower that totally defies all description; never had I imagined such a thing could be done with an innocent cruciferous vegetable. It's not remotely sexual. I'd almost prefer if it was.

But I've summed up the major things I've been pondering since watching the movie, and also it's five in the morning, so. A masterpiece. You should absolutely see it. But be wary.






* It occurs to me only now, writing this, that Swinton's role as both an allegorical England and a theoretically real young woman is an homage to Anna Magnani's stunning performance as the city of Rome in Pier Paolo Pasolini's Mamma Roma (1962). Somehow, all of the critical writing I have encountered on Mamma Roma fails to realize that she is the entire city incarnate and it gets shoved in with Pasolini's Neo-Realist period, which I am starting to think he never actually had. But I digress.

** I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness starving hysterical naked not with a bang but with a whimper

*** From Tanith Lee's "When The Clock Strikes". Worth noting that the character described has sold herself to Satan, and is also the agent of promulgating a curse.
morbane: uletide mod image of guinea pig among daisies (Yuletide)
([personal profile] morbane posting in [community profile] yuletide_admin Sep. 15th, 2017 09:00 pm)
The nominations period is now shorter than 24 hours.

Here is the countdown!

Here are the instructions!

Here we go!


Because there is a time delay in the IFTTT service that crossposts from LJ/DW to Twitter/Tumblr, we will not post a further warning here. We don't want participants who get their notifications that way to see 'two hours left' when in fact nominations ended two hours prior. If you still plan to nominate, please check the countdown and get your nominations in soon!
rushthatspeaks: (parenting)
([personal profile] rushthatspeaks Sep. 15th, 2017 02:30 am)
At one day shy of eleven months, Fox is definitely both walking and talking.

Over the last few weeks, the walking has gone from very determined cruising to one or two steps without falling down to chains of three or four steps connected by moments of serious arm waving, or squatting and standing back up again. They don't really fall down at all, and never have, but they would sometimes cease forward motion. Now we've just gotten to walking across a room, and I haven't seen them crawl in several days. They also climb much better-- can get onto the back rail of the futon, or actively pull themself up onto my shoulder when I'm sitting on the futon. They don't seem to distinguish yet between standing on/climbing on somebody and standing on/climbing on inanimate objects. We need to give them a real shot at stairs sometime here, as there aren't any in our house and they could probably use the practice.

The talking... I guess many people's first words are... more readily distinguishable? I mean, either Fox has been talking for like a week, or Fox has been talking since about April, and I legitimately do not know. They've been saying 'Hiiiiii' to people all along, literally since birth, and they've been saying 'Ma! Ma!' to Ruth and 'Da! Da!' to me and 'At! At!' to the cats for some months, but they also said those syllables to things that aren't me or Ruth or the cats. I just wasn't able to tell babble from intentional speech, and I don't really think there was a way to.

However, what we're getting now is Fox saying 'Ma! Ma!' at Ruth in the morning when they want Ruth to get out of bed and feed them, which is pretty clearly intentional, and they say 'At!' when they see a picture of a cat in any of their books. (I haven't seen them hold a book upside down in a couple of weeks, either. Something about pictures has clicked.) Also today they hugged me and then put the final d on 'Dad' for the first time, which was just as heart-melting as I could possibly have imagined. We've also had 'Es' for a while, which means general agreement, though, and this fascinates me, we have nothing even vaguely resembling no as a word, just yelling. And 'Ba' means ball or book, but 'Ba' in a different tone means bottle; I can't really duplicate this but can hear the difference clearly.

I haven't heard them babble any of the phonemes yet that would allow them to use the names of various grandparents or their third parent, and we're all actually pretty sure they consider their third parent's name too hard right now, given the timing of various looks of frustration.

Their favorite toy right now is the photo album Ruth got them with pictures of extended family, friends, and various significant occasions in their own life, which they will pore over with devoted concentration for long stretches of time. They haven't liked an object so much since they first noticed their mobile at five months. Sometimes we'll go through and say again who various people are and what the event was, though I have no idea if they remotely have or can have the idea yet of a picture of themself.

They do have the idea now of doorknobs, but not the reach. I have seen them try to follow somebody out the door by going over and batting at the knob from below. So far they are about as good at this as our smarter cat, and I devoutly hope those two never team up. I will also be shocked if Fox doesn't start climbing over baby gates rather sooner than us parent-types would like, although at least we have one more level to lower their mattress inside its enclosure if they start getting out of their bed anytime soon.

Solid food clicked some while back, and while they're still having four or five large bottles a day, they also eat two or three solid meals, things like mango puree, applesauce, avocado, yogurt, Cheerios, and/or semisolid oat cereal. Sometimes we mix some of those together. We also give them bits of what we're eating, though we're trying to avoid large quantities of sugar and salt till they're past a year old. They have two and a half teeth, the bottom front two and one I think I see lurking partially emerged in the back bottom left. They can drink through a straw, and they can drink from a sippy cup and, actually, from a regular cup, though I don't let them very often because after they drink from it they'll just toss it down like they do the bottle.

We have never cut their hair, because that's a decision they'll be able to make for themself in not all that long, so they strongly resemble a Beatle, or possibly an emo rocker circa 2004. Putting a barrette across the bangs works until they take it out and try to eat it. Pigtails actually work but are not remotely my aesthetic preference. Fortunately they don't seem to mind hair in their face-- I've never seen them push at it or get frustrated with it.

Ruth took them to a baby swimming class over at MIT for a while, so we now have some notion of how to work with a swim diaper and how to interact with an infant in the water, which is great because we're going to the beach next month.

And their first birthday approaches apace, though milestone-wise-- toddler. I'd say we have a toddler.
selenak: (Rocking the vote by Noodlebidsnest)
([personal profile] selenak Sep. 13th, 2017 04:15 pm)
Briefly; originally I intended to wait for the library to feature What Happened, but the sheer amount of hate Hillary Clinton's book has already produced made me buy it in a hurry. Having read it yesterday, mostly I agree with this review on its major strengths and weaknesses. (My main area of disagreement is with the reviewer's screpticism re: the role of sexism in the election and her comparison between the respective type of hoslitiy aimed at Hillary vs her husband, John Kerry and Mitt Romney.) Therefore, I'll add some trivial observations of my own which are pop culture related:

1.) Wasn't surprised to learn that Hillary, as opposed to The Orange Menace, loved her SNL counterpart. Up and including Kate-as-Hillary singing Halleluja post election.

2.) Was amused that of the various new terms the internet coined in recent years, her favourite is "Mansplaining". (""The second I heard it, I thought"Yes! We needed a word for that.") Of course, the sheer number of guys currently mansplaining what REALLY happened in the election to Hillary Clinton was also predictable.

3.) HC also mentions The Good Wife among the shows she's watched post election for distraction. Given the various comparisons the show draws between the Clintons and the Florricks (my favourite being the Diane and Will conversation where he admits to not getting it and says Peter and Alicia are Bill and Hillary on acid), enquiring minds wonder how distracting that one could have been. Mind you, Hillary is way more positive about Bill in this book (and per previous one) than Alicia ever was about Peter. What Happens includes not just a wry "I heard it again in the 2016 campaign: that 'we must have an arrangement' (we do, it's called a marriage)" and lots of praise for his unwavering support but a straightforward love declaration as well as the statement that if she'd known what was ahead, dark times, public humiliation and all, she'd still marry him again without hesitation.

4.) She loved that pony meme as a summary of her dynamic with Bernie Sanders, and I have to confess it cracked me up as well.

5.) Apparently her Game of Thrones reference ("They shouted "Guilt!Guilty!" like the religious zealots in Game of Thrones shouting "Shame! Shame!" while Cersei Lannister walked back to the Red Keep") is held up as an example of Hillary not getting that Cersei is a villain? Which, well. There are lot of times GoT doesn't want you to sympathize with Cersei. That sequence, though, wasn't one of them.

6.) I don't know the woman, so I have no idea whether or not the book is Hillary Clinton unrestrained, but she certainly sounds like it. ("The President of China had to explain the complexity of the North Korea challenge to him. 'After listening for ten minutes, I realized it's not so easy,' Trump said. Can you hear my palm slapping my forehead?") Also, on Comey: "(Comey) said that he was 'mildly nauseous' at the idea that he influenced the outcome of the election. Hearing that made me sick." I have a bit more sympathy for Comey than she does, but yeah, no kidding.


Generally speaking, I found the book easier to read than her previous memoirs, not least because of her greater focus on one particular era and set of issues.
morbane: Utena Shadow Girls Santa picture with text "absolute destiny apocalypse yuletide" (Utena)
([personal profile] morbane posting in [community profile] yuletide_admin Sep. 13th, 2017 09:00 pm)
All you need to know about 2017 nominations is at this post!

Click here for a countdown to when nominations end.

If you have a question for us, please ask it there, or here, or at http://yuletide-admin.livejournal.com, or by email to yuletideadmin@gmail.com! If you have already asked us a question, please feel free to remind us by commenting again or linking to it.
selenak: (Ashoka and Anakin by Welshgater)
([personal profile] selenak Sep. 12th, 2017 12:12 pm)
Trailer spotted: The Man Who Invented Christmas seems to be trying to take the Shakespeare in Love approach to Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol. The following thoughts occured to me in no particular order:

- Dan Stevens is actually made to look like a young Charles Dickens and has something of that manic energy, but:

- as Dickens' favourite daughter Kate Perugini put it, writing to George Bernard Shaw: "If you could make the public understand that my father was not a jolly, jocose gentleman walking about the earth with a plum pudding and a bowl of punch you would greatly oblige me."

- no such luck, Kate, not with this movie. Though Dickens really wasn't

- I know I complain about Mark Gatiss written episodes of Doctor Who a lot, but his very first one, The Unquiet Dead, actually did something more interesting with the basic idea of Dickens + Christmas Carol + supernatural elements than this trailer indicates

- why is it that "based on a true story" movies that tackle author plus famous work always feel the need to pretend the author in question had writers block and/or dire difficulties before hitting on the inspiration for the famous work? Do we blame Stoppard for this one, too? Finding Neverland did it as well, and it's just as untrue here (neither Barrie nor Dickens were when writing Peter Pan and Christmas Carol respectively in any type of financial or inspirational difficulties)

- the idea of Charles Dickens, of all the people, having writers' block is hilarious, though, because his problem was more the opposite. Neil Gaiman in the Sandman story Calliope lets Dream curse a writer with literally unending inspiration (spoiler: it's not a boon when you write your fingers bloody because you really can't stop), and Dickens wasn't quite there, but nearly.

Mind you, the film makers are probably safe to assume most tv watchers know zilch about Dickens' biography. But not for the first time, I wonder whether a miniseries wouldn't be a great format to tackle that, Dickens in his morally ambiguous complexity, covering the whole life from child-of-a-conman Charles to celebrated writer, philantropist and terrible husband Dickens going on one last reciting tour. Abi Morgan did a good job with The Invisible Woman, taking one particular part of his life, and she has tv experience, so she'd be my first choice to write such a series.

Meanwhile, in another fandom, to wit, Star Wars:

Balance Point: now by now there are some stories in which Force Ghost Obi-Wan Kenobi haunts Vader, but this story is the first one which lets someone else who used to be close to Anakin Skywalker do so instead, and executes that premise beautifully.Spoilers for Star Wars: Rebels ensue. )
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
([personal profile] selenak Sep. 11th, 2017 06:01 pm)
The Americans:

While pondering whether or not to volunteer for The Americans this Yuletide, I checked whether there were new stories since last year, and indeed there were. I especially liked:


It's never over: a look at Oleg in season 5.

My last night: Philip and Elizabeth post Martha.

The Defenders:

Saints in Effigy a Claire pov on her relationships.

MCU:

Spider-Sitting: what Happy Hogan thinks about basically being made Peter's handler.
rushthatspeaks: (signless: be that awesome)
([personal profile] rushthatspeaks Sep. 10th, 2017 01:34 am)
Okay, I have to link to the most impressive human feat of anything I've seen in quite a while:

A Delta flight successfully makes the NYC-San Juan-NYC run in the teeth of Hurricane Irma.

They flew out between the arm of the hurricane and the body of the storm. Intentionally. Because their dispatching called it correctly. The flight spent only fifty-two minutes on the ground at SJU, and left fully loaded.

There are some pilots, ground crew, dispatchers, and tower staff there who I devoutly hope never have to buy their own drinks in a bar ever again. I would not have believed that was possible.

Things must have been extremely tense for the ticketed passengers; it takes some guts to get on a plane that's pulling that kind of maneuver. Whoof.
In which our author in a way comes full circle, going back to the territory of his third novel and big breakthrough, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, as well revisiting some of his most famous characters in this and later novels, to wit, George Smiley and friends. Though Smiley himself, in present day, only makes a cameo appearance at the very end. He's the Luke Skywalker to this novel's The Force Awakens, looked and searched for throughout the story by everyone, and none more so than a younger adlatus, who only tracks him down at the end of it. Mind you, "younger" in this case is relative, since the man in question is a senior citizen himself. He's also our narrator, and none other than Peter Guillam, possibly familiar to non-readers because Benedict Cumberbatch played him in the more recent cinematic version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy gets referenced a lot, and there are some other veterans from it making appearances, notably Jim Prideaux towards the end, but really, the Le Carré novel which this one serves as a remix, bookending, counterpart, whatever you want to call it as remains the earlier The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. The one which which, in pop culture consensus, Le Carré reinvented the spy genre, presenting a counter vision to James Bond in the form of his shabby, worn down civil servants and the way the Western side of the Cold War was presented as performing morally ambigous to downright villainous acts. (Mind you, as Le Carré himself acknowledged, Graham Greene went there before him, but Le Carré still popularized the type.) The film version had Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, and Alec Leamas is the (dead) character most revisited in A Legacy of Spies.

The premise: Peter Guilllam, enjoying retirement in France (the Bretagne to be precise, as he's half Breton and spent his early childhood there before being dumped into the horror of a British public school), gets summoned to London and given the unwelcome news that the children of Alec Leamas, Elizabeth Gold (and as it turns out the offspring of a third party who is new to the saga) are sueing the British government for what happened to their parents at the end of the earlier novel. (If you don't recall Leamas and Gold having kids in said book/film, don't worry; this is meant to be news to the reader, though Guillam knew about Alec Leamas' illegitimate son, if not about Gold's illegitimate-given-up-to-adoption daughter. Since the current secret service and government has no intention of being embarrassed, that means they need some individual to blame, and with Smiley mysteriously unable to find, this means Guillam as the sole survivor of "Operation Widfall", as it was called.

In practical terms, this means we're getting both flashbacks from Guillam and lots of excerpts from reports made at the time by various parties concerned. Le Carré avoids just rehashing old material (only viewed from the other perspective, as opposed to that of Alec Leamas) by not arriving at the actual events of The Spy... until the last third. Before, we get the backstory, involving Leamas as head of Berlin station and Guillam as a courier. It's also Le Carré's opportunity for a good old suspense plot; the extraction of an asset. Meanwhile, in the present day, the various current day "Circus" members are gleefully skewered and satirized in their fake chummyness. (Footnote: one of them is called "Bunny", which is all you need to know. Is there ever a male character named Bunny who isn't an object of satire to his author?) Guillam, being a Le Carré spy (retired), lies of course to his investigators. Whether or not he also lies to himself regarding his motives at various points is up to the reader.

Nitpicks: for starters, I think Le Carré is making things easy for the readers as who to sympathize with, which didn't use to be the case. Having established the "children sue" premise, he goes out of his way to not allow any narrative identification with them. Elizabeth Gold's daughter (and btw, the gender choice - a daughter for Liz Gold, a son for Alec Leamas - is another thing that strikes me as lazy) never makes it on screen, err, page, she's only referred to; Alex Leamas' son Christoph (half German, because of course he is) first shows up in the flashback as a sullen teenager, then in the present as a money-hungry thug, and by the time it's revealed that some spoilers ensue ), it's too late for the readers. The son of the new character, the asset Leamas and Guillam first had to cultivate and then to extract, an East German secretary code named Tulip, gets a bit more development in that he's presented as likeable as a child and the way he's as an adult is clearly due to what happened to his mother and the choices our heroes made back in the day. But again, he gets just one scene. Meanwhile, Leamas, Smiley (in the flashbacks - when I said cameo appearance only, I meant present day George Smiley, the one in the 50s and 60s gets a lot of scenes) and Guilllam himself get a lot of pages to show their mental and emotional state about those hard choices.

Secondly, it's not until the last third when a sympathetic female character not romantically involved with any of our male regulars shows up; she's Tabitha, Guillam's thoroughly unimpressed lawyer, and she's great, but until then, Le Carré leaves us with types: Spoilers explain a bit ). Since Le Carré in an article about the recent tv version of The Night Manager freely admitted the best thing about it was the gender change that allowed Olivia Colman to play the handler character, I'm surprised that he didn't at least try to get out of his boys' club mentality for this novel. Make Christoph a Christine, for example, who still is damaged, has spent some time in prison and is on a revenge quest, and then even with the drawback mentioned above you immediately have a more interesting character. Granted: as a rule, you don't read Le Carré for his female characters (with the odd exception), you read him for the various male characters with myriad issues neurotically interacting with each other, and as always, he delivers a plenty.

Thirdly, for a novel which has a trial looming as a threat, it's a bit frustrating that spoilers happen ).

Not a nitpick, just an observation: if you're only familiar with the recent movie version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and not either the 70s tv version or the novel, you might be surprised and/or annoyed that Peter Guillam isn't gay in A Legacy of Spies, but this was a movie-only thing, not mentioned or indicated in the original novel. Though while Guillam's het affairs are plot revelant, I admit he'd have been a more interesting character to me if Le Carré had decided to make him at least bi. Anyway, this novel isn't a case of a narrator truly telling his own story, it's more a case of the narrator telling other people's stories, in this case, Leamas', Smiley's and Tulip's.

Lastly: if The Spy Who Came In From The Cold advanced the cause of shadiness in the spy genre, it for all its moral ambiguity - Spoilers for a spy novel and movie classic ) - it did so with the underlying assumption that it was still justified by the need to not let the Soviet Union win the Cold War. A Legacy of Spies, written by a much older John Le Carré who is thoroughly disgusted by current day politics, has its narrator wonder increasingly what any of it was for. And then George Smiley in his Old Luke Skywalker cameo answers that question with a passionate declaration that's very obviously also an authorial fourth wall breaking, of a writer in the age of Brexit and Trump. Smiley, on why he did the things he did:

"For world peace, whatever that is? Yes, yes, of course. There will be no war, but in the struggle for peace no stone will be left standing, as our Russian friends used to say. (...) Or was it all in the great name of capitalism? God forbid. Christendom? God forbid again. (...) So was it all for England, then?" he resumed. "There was a time, of course there was. But whose England? Which England? England all alone, a citizen of nowhere? I'm a European, Peter. If I had a mission - if I ever was aware of one beyond our business with the enemy, it was to Europe. If I was heartless, I was heartless for Europe. If I had an unattainable ideal, it was to lead Europe out of her darkness towards a new age of reason. I have it still.

It's the last sentence that draws the line between nihilistic despair and critique allied to resolve and hope, despite it all.
selenak: (Uthred and Alfred)
([personal profile] selenak Sep. 8th, 2017 11:33 am)
Back after a week of hiking and little online access, I managed to finish my story for the Missy Remix just in time. Phew.

Meanwhile, Yuletide nominations are nearly upon us. Of the new fandoms I've discovered for myself this year, I still want to nominate The Last Kingdom - anyone wilth so we can get more characters in? I'd also nominate Wynona Earp, but it's above the limit due to the popularity of the Waverly/Nicole pairing. Class, otoh, should qualify despite the Doctor Who connection. (I mean, if individual MCU projects like Ant Man make the cut...) And since it's now officially cancelled, I feel the need for fanfic more than ever. Any willing Class nominators, again, to get more character options if we coordinate our efforts?

Book-wise, I won't nominate the Bernie Gunther mysteries because a) no one will pick that one up, and b) I have just one particular idea for a story, which would be an Agent Carter crossover, and finding the odd person who enjoys both Agent Carter and those novels would be even more difficult than finding someone willing to write for a WW II era book series set mostly inside Germany and occupied territories. Also, I might write that story myself, it's one of those "if I ever find the time" things. It would copy the structure of the later Gunther novels, i.e. switch back and forth between two eras, WWII and the 50s. During WWII, when Goebbels launches his big propaganda coup of inviting all and sunder to check out the newly discovered Katyn massacre site, Peggy is undercover among the reporters, with a mission (she thinks) to find out the truth and expose the Nazis for liars, only to discover to her horror that in this particular case, the Nazis actually said the truth, the Soviets did committ the massacre in question, but to admit this would sabotage relationships among the Allies and thus the Allied war effort which means her actual mission becomes burying the evidence. Meanwhile, the novels have Bernie Gunther in Katyn investigating that very event, so their paths would inevitably cross, and their interests clash but in some areas coincide. Cutting dialogue and murky ethical territory on both sides guaranteed. On the other hand, in the 50s, Bernie is the one on the run under a variety of false names while Peggy has just founded SHIELD and is on the rise when a murder happens that involves some former Hydra member who's been adopted via Operation Paperclip, and she needs an outside investigator who knows his way among former and not so former Nazis without being one, and won't be deterred should the killer be one of hers, either.
morbane: uletide mod image of guinea pig among daisies (mod)
([personal profile] morbane posting in [community profile] yuletide_admin Sep. 8th, 2017 08:57 pm)
Yuletide Nominations 2017 are open!

Your Nominations Toolset



More nominating tips
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- two boys at school, hurray! Plus an object lesson in why when you need something done, ask the people who actually do it and not the people in the office. Philomythulus and Cub are both going to school now (and how did that happen? lately I've been more and more in sympathy with people talking about how fast time goes). The problem is, Cub needs to be dropped off at school, and Philomythulus needs to be collected on the school bus from home. This is tricky to coordinate. Last year it worked, I could get Cub to nursery with Philomythulus in tow and then get home in time for the bus to collect him. This year the bus wanted to collect him at precisely the time I would be dropping Cub off. I rang the office and asked if there was any chance it could be altered. They faffed and muttered and finally said no, sorry, it was all too complicated. Fair enough, it's not impossible for me to drop Cub off and then drop Philomythulus off, the problem is that access and parking is severely limited at Philomythulus's school and they don't like having parents doing the drop-offs. So I take Philomythulus in this morning and am buttonholed by the lovely escort on his bus, who asks why he isn't on the bus. I explain. She goes away and talks to the driver for five minutes. Turns out that the assigned bus route is stupid: it has them drive down a street to collect a kid, come out to our house, then go back to the same street to collect another kid, for no apparent reason. They propose collecting both kids at once and then another kid, then coming to us last, which is a much saner route and involves less going back and forth on the extremely busy main road. Everyone agrees that this is very sensible and works perfectly. Problem solved.

- still working on Vorhalas. I actually went out walking around a wood at night, when we were on holiday, for research purposes :-). There are two moons on Barrayar, aren't there? I'm in the tedious ending bit where I've written all the fun scenes and now I have to stitch it all together and make it make sense. Eventually I'd like to find someone to beta it - anyone up for maybe 12-15,000 words of Vorhalas during the Pretendership?

- right now I seem to have a new Stan Rogers song on repeat every day or so, and I'm loving them all. This started with Barratt's Privateers, then Northwest Passage, then The Mary Ellen Carter, then MacDonnell on the Heights, then White Squall, The Flowers of Bermuda, The Nancy, The Witch of the Westmorland. Not many end happily except maybe the guys raising the Mary Ellen Carter but who knows. White Squall wins the prize for Most Depressing, the narrator watching the bright kid get washed overboard and going 'I told him not to do that' (though you'd think the guys'd learn: never, never show pictures of the girl you're going to marry to anyone when you're doing anything more dangerous than mowing the lawn). Northwest Passage is the best. Mary Ellen Carter is the catchiest. MacDonnell is the most Barrayaran, though Nancy is pretty Barrayaran too. Bermuda is weirdly upbeat for a song about the captain going down with his ship, but then, perhaps the captain in question would have preferred a cheery song. And the Witch is the most Romantic.

And I am seriously considering requesting The Nancy for Yuletide, because I'm weirdly fond of Captain Alexander MacIntosh, who spends so much time talking about how he hates men in fancy clothes and powdered hair you might think he protests too much, plus for someone so chippy he's very quick to tell you he's the nephew of the laird. I didn't quite follow it on my first listen and I thought he'd ordered Captain Maxwell below and fought their way out, but then on the second listen it seemed that Captain Maxwell left the ship and was made prisoner instead. I like the first interpretation better, and I'd love to read fic of him disarranging Maxwell's uniform afterwards, or pouring scorn on Captain Maxwell one minute and then fighting like a tiger to save him the next. But perhaps it's not quite the thing to ask for Yuletide fic based on a mishearing of a song?
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