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insufferable know-it-all
15 June 2016 @ 07:01 pm
My sister visited for about four days: a lovely time. We went to an arts/farmers market (note to self: never again drive to the South End because parking is a lie), hosted a small dinner/Game of Thrones viewing party, played Star Trek Scrabble, took a long walk, went swimming, etc. She left this morning.

We watched World War Z, mediocre but entertaining, and The Way Way Back, inspired by a Festivid, which we liked a lot, minus the gross and totally unnecessary ogling of a couple of women's bathing-suited bodies. We tried The Kids Are All Right but quit after about 15 minutes.

I finished my two vids for Vividcon: the book trailer for [personal profile] revolutionaryjo's "No Source? No Problem" vid show, and the Auction vid for [personal profile] jetpack_monkey. The Auction vid turned out well. The trailer, I dunno. Could have kept working on it for another 9 months and there are things that I and my betas would like to fix but it had to be called done sometime.

Also I've got a handful of vid project ideas after months of drought. That feels good. Some are small and one is big but the big one would be for next year's Club Vivid so there is plenty of time to piece it together. Not complicated or deep, just multisource because of the structure of the song.

I read and loved The Girl With All the Gifts by "M.R. Carey" and have started Life After Life by Kate Atkinson on [personal profile] nightdog_barks's recommendation.

Work has calmed down as hoped. Even better, it looks like I will be able to attend a week-long video editing course this summer for professional development! It's a room-and-board thing in Maine and it sounds wonderful.

...

At the same time, awful things are happening everywhere, to some of you and to other friends and to broader communities, and it's just... Saying "my thoughts are with you" doesn't feel like it cuts it, but it's true. I'm trying to listen and witness and talk to the people in my life who want to talk, and to help where I can. ♥

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/335024.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
01 June 2016 @ 01:47 pm
READING

Title of post because The Wise Man's Fear has all the faults of The Name of the Wind plus some fun new ones, like random ableism against a character who exhibits autism-like behavior, and taking a break from the very little happening to go on a tangent that leads to a tangent that leads to another tangent that appears to be leading to yet another tangent, only the third of which so far has contributed to the protagonist's ultimate goal. On the bright side… canon bisexual background character?

Actually, my best (desperate) theory is that the whole story is a metacommentary on the construction of heroism and villainy and the nature of myth, from the points of view of both the heroes and the people who stretch and retell the stories that spring up around them. There is a lot of storytelling within storytelling and discussion of myth, from Kvothe deflating his own reputation to the revelation that fairytale figures do exist and have been destroying written and oral records about themselves. Still, 3,000 pages of self-congratulation and seeming aimlessness is a long way to go to explore this theme.

Yesterday I looked at the position of my bookmark and wondered why I was making such slow progress, only to remember that I've actually read 600 pages this week; it's just that there are still 400 left.

Before these two hardcover bricks, I read the equally hefty and aptly titled Leviathan Wakes, the first book the TV series The Expanse was based on. There was one striking moment toward the end in a part of the narrative the show hasn't covered yet, but overall this was an example of the adaptation being better on multiple fronts. I did gain a deeper understanding of the Belter creole and appreciated the explanation for why Alex Kamal's Martian drawl sounds so fake. I enjoyed assessing the changes the showrunners made. Mostly, though, the book was much duller than the show, its prose clunky and obvious and its depiction of women laughable. Have this excerpt from a Goodreads review:
Here is a brief list of how women are portrayed in this book:

1) Trapped in a box.
2) Sleeping with her boss.
3) Dead.
WATCHING

Game of Thrones. So far so fine as it wobbles off without its training wheels.

Scattershot movies and TV episodes for book trailer vid, which is coming along well.

Allow me a moment to flail at you over the unexpected delight of Horror Express, a 1973 B-movie about a monster-alien on a train that friend M. and I saw in a diner last month. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing did their usual thing, and then Telly Savalas showed up looking like the lovechild of Yul Brynner and Tom Hardy and managed to upstage Lee & Cushing in his only two scenes. IDEK what he was doing, but it was hilarious.

Here is his second and most wonderful appearance. Maybe you have to watch a scene or two before to fully appreciate the WTFness, because until that point, we were in a normal monster movie—and then there was a Queens-accented Russian general, vodka gargling, and whipping.

"Everybody's under arrest!"

VIDDING

The aforementioned book trailer. It is going to be finished by June 10 for a Vividcon deadline, come hell or high water. *determined face*

After a fun start followed by some fumbling, the Auction vid for [personal profile] jetpack_monkey is back on track; looks like it won't be a scramble at the last minute to polish things up for the June 17 deadline.

Did I mention Boris Karloff? Boris Karloff, people. You know you're excited.

DOING

Have been working with [personal profile] elipie on the playlist for our kink-themed vid show for Vividcon. We're at the point now of contacting vidders, which is fun, but the fun is dampened by having to ask people to encode their files in a specific way for VVC. Maybe not a problem for some, but a headache for others, especially for people whose vids are older, who haven't made many vids and/or who are outside our part of vidding fandom. I'm trying to make things as painless as possible and look forward to a day when conversions aren't necessary.

Want to write more and vid more but either no time or no oomph. May was work, work, focused on work, so much work to do at work, trying to keep things confined to work hours, then movies and TV and sleep the rest of the time. June should be better. It's starting to feel like summer. Friend L. and I went kayaking on the Charles River on Saturday, and I swam last night at the local Y. Water is nice.

WRITING

Nada, but would like to get back to a couple of Inkheart stories in progress and maybe a Mary Sue thing. Have a half-formed dream of taking a few days off in June or July and bringing the laptop somewhere retreat-y.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/334763.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
21 May 2016 @ 09:20 am
Two people from two different parts of my life enthusiastically recommended this fantasy novel by Patrick Rothfuss, the first in a trilogy called The Kingkiller Chronicle that hasn't yet been completed.

Slow start, but intriguing. Then it turned out the first 50 pages were only there to set up a situation in which the main character, Kvothe, the greatest arcanist alive, is going to tell his life story to a scribe. There followed 600 pages of earning a blackout on the Gary Stu Bingo card. The proper pronunciation of his name! His striking red hair, the changing shades of his green eyes! His Batman-tragic childhood! His incredible precocious talent and brilliance! He is the best at almost everything he tries! Those around him love or hate him and are never indifferent! He is so alone and misunderstood! The woman he falls in love with is the most beautiful and enigmatic in the realm, whom all other men wish they could be with! Drama follows him everywhere he goes! The great misery of the world in the present-day narrative is all his fault! We do not hear any details about other people's lives that don't revolve around him! And it's told in the first person to top it all off.

He says charming things like: "I was brilliant. Not just your run-of-the-mill brillance either. I was extraordinarily brilliant."

My friends' praises convinced me to give the book more patience than I would have otherwise, and despite the above, I'm generally glad I did. The story picked up around 225 pages in when young Kvothe went to university. Whether that's because the pacing improved or because I identified more with an academic success fantasy is hard to tell. It's just that my enjoyment of the competence kink and my desire to find out how Kvothe achieved The Thing he's most famous for were tested by his being so everything. He gets called out sometimes for his arrogance and his Gryffindor tendency to leap before looking, and punished sometimes for breaking rules, but he almost always gets off easy. And while often he is (so) clever and resourceful, he's also unpredictably thick and self-defeating. He's driven to learn all he can about one particular spoilery thing, yet he makes choices that hamper his ability to achieve that goal. Frustrating.

Kvothe's rapidly cycling financial solvency, the way he struggles to stay one step ahead of total destitution and doesn't always manage to do so, was an interesting difference from a lot of other SF/F stories I've read.

Little things bugged me on a prose level. Rothfuss uses too many similes. Kvothe and a faerie friend have an inexplicable tendency to say each other's names in every line when they converse. There were some typos and comma splices, and whoever proofread this book did not understand plural possessives, so it's all "my parent's tent" and "the villager's fear." On the other hand, there was some fun stuff with a country dialect (for example, calling pigs: "Loo, peg! Peg peg peg.") and with making fun of bad poetry.
"What do you know of poetry?" Ambrose said without bothering to turn around.

"I know a limping verse when I hear it," I said. "But this isn't even limping. A limp has rhythm. This is more like someone falling down a set of stairs."
But the main thing was that the beginning of the story set up a mystery -- the reason the scribe is so keen to record Kvothe's life -- that kept me turning the pages... only to discover that it's not going to be explained until a later book. IF YOUR STORY IS ABOUT HOW CHARACTER X DID Y, AND YOUR BOOK IS 662 PAGES LONG, I WANT THE ANSWER BY PAGE 662. Ugh. Tell me a complete story. Or, barring that, at least a complete segment with one significant step of the ultimate goal achieved. Then if I like your story, I will trust you enough to read another complete story in the sequel. Enough of this bloated cliffhanger business. Kvothe's story is no Lord of the Rings or Song of Ice and Fire epic that necessitates 2,000+ pages.

...Says the person who's going to pick up the second book at the library today to see if The Thing finally gets described.

I'm really surprised it has a 4.55 rating on Goodreads. The reviewers I agreed with gave it two or three stars.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/334000.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
I just saw A Bigger Splash starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson, an intrigue-at-the-beach movie that seemed perfect as the weather here warms.

I was so sure it would end spoilerCollapse ) -- but with just enough doubt to keep things suspenseful, you know? But then spoilerCollapse ) instead, and emotional reaction to thatCollapse ).

Was it supposed to be a twist that spoilerCollapse )

Aside from that, they set up a Chekhov's gun that never went off and had a subplot involving black "migrants" that went nowhere except spoilerCollapse ). :/

The film is a remake of La Piscine/The Swimming Pool, which I never got around to seeing. I'm going to fix that now. Maybe it had a more masterful grasp of tension. Even from the little I know of the original, I wish A Bigger Splash had departed more from it.

Tilda was marvelous, though, as always, and beautiful, whether in all white in her island retreat or done up in glitter as a David Bowie rock star. Ralph Fiennes had a few very brave scenes. And the film had some things to say about communication and how words can get in the way.

ETA: Wow, it has a 90% positive critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I'll definitely be reading some of those reviews to see if I missed something or if we just disagree. ETA 2: Ah ha -- A+ agree with Village Voice, especially the last paragraph.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/333816.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
11 May 2016 @ 06:35 pm
In a fortuitous turn of events*, I am co-modding with [personal profile] elipie a kinky vids show for Vividcon this year and would love your input on what to include. We have a good list so far but it would be great to have more candidates that are:

- lesser-known
- older
- from YouTube or Tumblr
- about people of varying demographics

And especially vids that broaden the definition of what we think of as kink.

All fandoms and tones welcome. Assume that if a vid was ever posted to [community profile] kink_bingo or if it was listed in [personal profile] thingswithwings's Kinky vids I have known (2009), we know of it. And we're pretty settled on which of thingswithwings' many kinky vids we'd like to use, so no worries on that account. :)

Thanks in advance! Any recs you have will help us put together the strongest/most delightful playlist we can, without doing a "Greatest Hits of The Kink Vids Everyone at VVC Already Knows" show.

*I'd been planning one last fall and began to collect ideas but then forgot to submit it when VVC put out its call for proposals - but then this week I learned that elipie submitted the same idea and got approved and very kindly was willing to take me on board! \o/

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/333438.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
Finally got around to watching Proof. The poem--I'm calling it a poem--that Gwyneth Paltrow's character read from her father's workbook, taken from the original play by David Auburn, made the whole experience worthwhile:
Let X equal the quantity of all quantities of X.
Let X equal the cold. It is cold in December.
The months of cold equal November through February.
There are four months of cold and four months of heat, leaving four months of indeterminate temperature.
In February it snows.
In March the lake is a lake of ice.
In September the students come back and the bookstores are full.
Let X equal the months of full bookstores.
The number of books approaches infinity as the number of months of cold approaches four.
I will never be as cold now as I will in the future.
The future of cold is infinite.
The future of heat is the future of cold.
The bookstores are infinite and so are never full except in September.
Decided to give the movie a try today because it was on theme; last night my friend L. & I went to see The Man Who Knew Infinity, about Indian math prodigy Ramanujan and his unlikely friendship with English mathematician G.H. Hardy in the 1910s, because our former professor wrote the book it was based on and he came up for a Q&A with the writer-director and a local mathematician.

Like Proof, that movie was... perfectly serviceable. Both turn out to have been inspired by or based in part on Hardy's memoir, so that was neat. Jeremy Irons played him in Infinity: one of the strengths of the film. Dev Patel as Ramanujan was also lovely. I joked ("joked") with L. afterwards that I made my own fun during the enjoyable but formulaic--ha, math pun--story by pondering how much of the dialogue and how many of the nonverbal gestures between Hardy and Ramanujan and between Hardy and colleague Littlewood (Toby Jones) were meant to imply more than platonic intellectual relationships. There was some slashiness going on that has not been refuted by a quick perusal of magazine articles about the movie and the people being depicted in it, is all I'm saying.

Now off to friend C's for Crimson Peak and spaghetti. A much-needed screen-filled weekend to end April and Passover.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/333001.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
27 April 2016 @ 02:26 pm
Continued from here

Movies & TV seasons watched, Feb. 7-Apr. 26:

31 moviesCollapse )

For the record, 13 of those were for vid research.

TV:
  • Girls S5
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt S2


Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/332747.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
20 April 2016 @ 07:37 pm
Vids

Thanks to [personal profile] heresluck and [personal profile] corbae, it looks like [personal profile] jetpack_monkey and I have found a song for our Auction vid, hurrah. At least, we both think it's a good fit and now we will see if it works when the editing begins. Am psyched. I had a lot of fun watching the movie we're using, and will be subjecting* my mom to a rewatch when she visits this weekend.

*Not really; she said it sounds great.

Books

Finished The Dispossessed and got really into it in the second half or last third as Shevek became more humanized and humorous (especially with kids and animals! cute!), more aware of the ways Annaresti culture was deviating from its founder's ideals, and better able to articulate the problems on Urras and their (un)solvability, and as he struggled to break through with his grand unified physics theory and get it into the right hands when no one's hands seemed right.

Flipped through Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, an overstuffed, unself-aware mess that nevertheless had a few things to recommend about it. Content warnings galore.

Now wrapping up Deathless by Catherynne Valente and not sure yet what to make of it. Certainly makes me wish I knew more about Russian fairy tales and folklore. And that readers weren't so distanced from the main character after the first section. Some truly striking images, though. A bit like Uprooted with hints of Gaiman's Endless, among other things, but very much its own entity.

Recs

Grenade by [personal profile] fiercynn and [personal profile] scribe, which I beta-ed and have been remiss in not recommending. Full-hearted multifandom vid about self-sacrificing sidekicks who don't get the love they deserve. Rory Williams! Sam Gamgee! Sam Wilson! Many more!

Phase Changes (BtVS, 18,000 words, explicit) - a Giles/Xander/Willow fic that is locked to AO3 readers and so I assume I shouldn't name the author here. A diamond in the rough unearthed during an id tag search in the archives. Giles gets hit with a freeze ray; Xander and Willow, who are a couple, stay with him to keep him warm; things progress as you'd expect; and then the author truly won my heart when Willow has an issue with reaching orgasm and Giles gives them a sex ed lesson. Things don't end easily, either, as the next morning they debate whom, if anyone, to tell, and Buffy struggles with what's developed. Nicely written. Choosing to ignore the Wesley/angel and Spike/demon consciences the author gives Giles in the second half, like the hula-dancing "subconscious" from 50 Shades, which I remember reading somewhere was a holdover thing from anime fandom?

To the Victor, the Spoil by Annakovsky (Hunger Games, 13,000 words, explicit) - Katniss/Haymitch, Katniss/some other people, Capital corruption, Finnick and state-coerced sex, bleak and beautiful.

Tasks

Forthcoming Mom visit + Passover = tidying up, planning activities & choosing Haggadah materials. Looking forward to hosting a couple of friends for the seder and using these beautiful glass seder and matzah plates I acquired in Tel Aviv while visiting [personal profile] roga years ago. Looking forward to pulling out of this slump, too.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/332348.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
10 April 2016 @ 12:55 pm
Music: NPR/Stephen Thompson's Austin 100 lasted most of the drive to/from New York this weekend. It provided a dozen new-to-me songs I'm calling keepers, including four that sparked vid ideas. Two of the vids I'd definitely like to make at some point. One of those would be perfect for Club Vivid -- next year, that is -- once I figure out what fandom(s) slot(s) into the structure it presents.

Books: That thing where I said I was re-reading The Dispossessed because I'd made it almost to the end last time but petered out? I'm a little more than halfway through now and have no memory of anything beyond the middle of chapter two. It's a perfectly fine story of character, comparative politics and cross-cultural communication barriers. I'm beginning to suspect I didn't read much of it at all and have been confusing it with Stranger in a Strange Land, which I similarly didn't finish years ago.

Brain: Day four of four days off, and I'm feeling better than last week, although still not great. Took care of a lot of to-do's yesterday. Could use more days. Unfortunately, this is another week of Many Things To Do At Work + several evening engagements. Also feeling all a-roil regarding my career path after -- well, a lot of things, but most recently a grad school alumni party at our professor's house last night, at which many people shared the impressive things they are doing. I will continue to plug away at my tasks and do my PT exercises and see what happens.

Food: Taking care of myself by making sure meals are prepared for the week. Tried a couple of new recipes today that came out well. If you are interested: chicken and white bean chili (subbed a can of chicken near the end for raw breasts, and milk & yogurt for half-and-half & sour cream) for lunches; the simplest, silkiest cauliflower soup for afternoon snacks; and quick sautéed mushrooms with garlic, parsley and a mix of butter and olive oil to bring to a friend's tonight.

Now to figure out how to spend the 2 1/2 hours until the get-together.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/332281.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
04 April 2016 @ 08:22 pm
"Oh. Maybe I'm more depressed than I thought": A periodic discovery by bironic.

Brief details.Collapse )

I'm taking two days off later this week. Going to see my 95ish-year-old grandparents. My dad relocated them last month from FL to NY for care management purposes and there hasn't been a chance to visit until now, with everything that needed to get done at the office. I am told there is a Family Night happening at their new nursing home; will probably be cute.

Planning on taking more days off here and there, not for travel but for relaxing and working on artistic projects. Want to finish Jinni/Dustfinger story instead of staring at it and adding three sentences per day. Want to work on book trailer. And want to make a good to-be-determined vid for [personal profile] jetpack_monkey, who won me in the Vividcon Auction. \o/

Finding out I will be vidding for Nate was a bright spot this weekend. As was, in a more fleeting way, a random dream about Garak/O'Brien (??). TV-wise, the two episodes of S2 of Grantchester that've aired so far on PBS have been so, so lovely. Difficult subject matter and characters who are struggling, but the show is made with such compassion and high quality that I find it relaxing to sink into. The Sidney/Geordie subtext doesn't hurt, either.

After not having read a proper book in a while, started rereading The Dispossessed today, since we'll be discussing it at the next book club. The last time I tried, years ago, I trailed off ~20 pages short of the end and had lost interest much sooner. Have higher hopes for this attempt.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/331905.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.