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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.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
26 March 2016 @ 08:39 pm
pickles

I had a hankering last weekend for pickled red onions and tried a recipe with white vinegar, water, sugar, salt and peppercorns, and they came out terrible. I should have predicted that my disgust for white vinegar above all vinegars would make it impossible to eat vegetables soaked in it. Next time, will try cider vinegar or maybe rice vinegar. Don't suppose any of you have favorite quick pickle/refrigerator pickle recipes?

texts

I'm writing that Porn Battle ficlet, yay. Crossover between The Golem and the Jinni and Inkheart: two men with fire inside them. It is basically for me, but I still hope it finds an audience. Never mind that it's 700 words of conversation and no sex yet.

Friend C. lent me Frankenstein Underground by the guy who did Hellboy and it was great! Really pretty. The color and lighting especially. Actually I liked the art more than the story, but the story had plenty of items of interest: Frankenstein's creature + tentacles + statues of Mesoamerican-style gods + below-ground steampunk Egypt-worshiping secret societies battling dinosaurs + stuff. Here, NY Mag has a PDF of the first part. Reminds me that there were too many sound effects for my taste as well.

Meanwhile, Take Your Fandom to Work Day is staging a comeback. I'm trying to figure out whether to attempt a story. Once upon a time I thought about doing an SGA AU, but (a) there was no plot and (b) I'm really not sure I'd be comfortable "revealing" my job in fandom, no matter how often I remind myself not to flatter myself that anyone would care enough to "out" me. The fun thing about doing SGA is that a handful of the characters could more or less keep their jobs.

tv

Who knew? The SyFy series The Expanse continues to be pretty great. Complex social/class politics, many major characters who are not white men (though not the two ostensible leads), interesting dialects. The dialogue isn't torture to listen to like Defiance's is/was. Lots of different kinds of ships. I like that they're doing creative things with depicting gravity, even minor-seeming moments that show how characters live everyday in low- and zero-g environments. The world feels lived in. I'm sure the fact that the show was adapted from a book series explains a lot. Three episodes to go.

peeps

Not the Easter kind, although: Have a good Easter, those of you who observe. I went to Boston fannish brunch today for the first time in a while and sat with some people I haven't had much chance to converse with, and it was lovely, even when we didn't all share particular fandoms. As they'd say on Twitter: Hay, new fronds!

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/331489.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
21 March 2016 @ 04:15 pm
Oh hey there. Long time little update.

DOING

I've been working a lot. I'm just... really tired. I worked straight through last weekend and while it was necessary it was also not a great idea, so this weekend I did not work at all, and even though my work is not done, that turned out much better. Saw A St. Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn with some coworkers and went to MST3K night at [personal profile] thedeadparrot's: the poorly executed sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -- do not subject yourselves to it! Hung out with friend C. and watched TV and worked on a vid; see #2 below.

Ann Leckie came to town for a sci fi con, and [personal profile] thedeadparrot, [personal profile] stultiloquentia, [personal profile] jjhunter and I went to her reading/signing on Thursday. She read from Ch. 4 of Ancillary Mercy and answered questions -- a LOT of questions; the bookstore staff really should have put a stop to it after an hour, but it went for almost two. Then I got my trilogy signed, told her what I loved best about it, and shed enough inhibitions to say thanks for retweeting "Starships!" a while back. She said she bought the song after seeing the vid because she hadn't heard it before and afterwards it reminded her of the spaceships. :D

It snowed a few inches this morning and then warmed up so now it looks and sounds as if we are in a nature documentary about springtime in the mountains, snowmelt streaming from awnings and flowing alongside the curbs.

VIDDING

1. I am trying something new this year and have volunteered for the Vividcon Auction, where people bid for vidders to support the con and then a collaborative vid is born. I am a little scared and a little excited. Here is the list of participants and what they are & aren't willing to do. Bidding starts Saturday if that is a thing you are into.

2. I've also been working low and slow since Oct/Nov on a book trailer for Ancillary Justice. Upshot: Clip hunting takes a lot of time. I'm super excited about it, though, especially in the last couple of days, when I started taking what I've got and putting stuff down on a Premiere timeline. Will probably unlock a post about it in the coming weeks -- it was filtered to just a few people in case I got matched on it during Festivids -- to see if some of you have ideas for sources that might have visuals to fill the remaining gaps.

WATCHING

Lots of crappy movies & TV shows in service of the trailer project, heh, although the show The Expanse is pretty solid. Did they cast actors with Marfan syndrome to play Belters or what?

Season 5 of Girls is exactly what you'd expect, and I did manage to see Deadpool last month: an enjoyably irreverent meta romp.

Oh, and rewatched the second episode of Penny Dreadful with C., who's experiencing the show for the first time. My heart, oh my goodness, my heart still beats for Victor Frankenstein and Mr. Proteus. ♥ ♥

READING

All fiction pales in comparison to The Golem and the Jinni, so I switched to nonfiction for a while. I have conflicted thoughts about A.O. Scott's Better Living Through Criticism; his movie reviews are great and he said all the right things at his book tour reading/Q&A, but the book itself is surprisingly off-putting, considering I'm embedded in a community that lives and breathes pop culture analysis and should be among his core audiences. Don't feel up to writing a dissertation about it at the moment, though.

Now working my way through Best American Magazine Writing 2015. The first few articles were just as infuriating the second time around as when they were published: some for examining societal injustices whose solutions never seem to gain traction (racism through the lens of real estate, misogyny on the internet), and one for whining about the poor young men who're soooo victimized in the hunt to punish those who commit sexual assault on college campuses. Written by a woman (Emily Yoffe, no surprise). Ugh.

WRITING

I wrote a Golem and the Jinni ficlet -- you may have seen -- and would like to do a thing for the Porn Battle that starts today tomorrow. Specifically, I have an Ahmad/Dustfinger idea. A jinni and a fire-dancer walk into a bar... Because the answer to not getting many readers on a ficlet for a book is to cross it over with an even rarer book.

How're you all?

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/331029.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.