July 21st, 2017
erinptah: (pyramid)
posted by [personal profile] erinptah at 05:23pm on 21/07/2017 under , ,
This guy is safely back at the local shelter where he came from.

(Full details in locked posts -- if you didn't see them, and would like to be on a filter that includes stuff like cat drama, feel free to comment.)

The name on the shelter paperwork is Eli, so that's what I'm going to call him, not the name picked out by the roommate who brought him home and then wasn't around to take care of him.

Eli is super shy and super timid, but also totally mellow -- even when he was scared he never bit or scratched, just hid. In the three weeks he was at the flat, there was literally one time when he felt safe enough to approach a human on his own volition. Then he got spooked again, and there weren't enough days to re-reassure him before returning him to the professionals.

But I did get photos of him on the couch.



Petting for a sweet boy.



I hope he gets adopted by someone he can climb all over.
sovay: (Claude Rains)
A Facebook friend asked: "For my film-loving friends: what are films you hope to see in the Criterion Collection someday? Not just films you love, but films that fit the aesthetic and would make sense as Criterion films." So I posted the following textbrick in reply and figured I might as well reproduce it here, now with (occasionally really old) links:

The complete Derek Jarman, Super 8 shorts and music videos included. Herzog's Fitzcarraldo (1982), because it has always confused me that you can get the documentary from Criterion but not the film itself. Anything by Ulrike Ottinger, but especially Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia (1989) and Taiga (1992), which one could and should pair. Some kind of box set of Dennis Potter, making sure not to leave out the long-banned original TV version of Brimstone and Treacle (1976). Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's Smoke (1995). Some reasonable amount of Peter Greenaway, but The Pillow Book (1996) and Prospero's Books (1991) in their proper aspect ratio should head the list. Fred Zinnemann's Act of Violence (1948), a knockout noir about memory and atrocity with far less of a reputation than it deserves. Max Ophüls' The Reckless Moment (1949), one of the most devastating—and feminist—noirs I've ever seen. John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), Eugene O'Neill's favorite film realization of any of his plays. Ben Wheatley's A Field in England (2013). And while I'm dreaming of ponies, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953).

—There are other movies I'd like to see from Criterion, of course. Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (1973), especially considering the plethora of versions that have existed over the years (and may still be buried under the M4). I don't know if they'd go for Roy Ward Baker's The October Man (1947) unless it was part of a set of British noir, but seriously, how bad would that be? If they can announce an upcoming release of Agnieszka Smoczyńska's The Lure (2015)—the day after my birthday, I appreciate it—surely they could provide me with a nice edition of Marcin Wrona's Demon (2015). I'm sort of confused they've never done anything by Dorothy Arzner. I'm really confused they haven't already done the Wachowskis' Bound (1996). And so on. Some of it is the definitive home release idea, but a lot of these movies I would just like to be able to show people more easily than 35 mm or unpredictable flybys on TCM.
Music:: Man Man, "Rabbit Habits"
July 19th, 2017
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
My poems "A Death of Hippolytos" and "The Other Lives," published last October in The Cascadia Subduction Zone 6.4, are now free to read online with the rest of their issue. The first was inspired by Jules Dassin's Phaedra (1962) and especially by this afterthought, the second was written for Rose Lemberg after discussing Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). [personal profile] gwynnega has poetry in the same issue.

I had heard absolutely nothing of Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water (2017) until this afternoon, but the trailer makes it look like something I should very definitely see in December. It looks like William Alland and Jack Arnold's Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) retold through Jane Yolen's "The Lady and the Merman," which has haunted me since elementary school when I first read Neptune Rising: Songs and Tales of the Undersea Folk (1982). It looks sea-deep.

Speaking of oceanic things for which I may existentially blame Caitlín R. Kiernan: Delphine Cencig, "Poulpe Fiction."

In fact, I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow.
Music:: Nadine Shah, "Aching Bones"
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
posted by [personal profile] sovay at 12:46pm on 19/07/2017
Second doctor's appointment in as many days, coming up. First, links.

1. [personal profile] spatch sent me this handy-dandy list: "Times Doctor Who Was Ruined Forever." The site is snarky and some of their tags are jerkass, but the article itself is gold. "21/03/1981 – The best Doctor ever is replaced by a vet. Doctor Who dies."

2. Following my belated discovery of Jack Buchanan, I am pleased to see that the HFA will be showing Ernst Lubitsch's Monte Carlo (1930) on Friday. I wonder if I have ever actually seen Jeanette MacDonald.

3. I had no idea one of the performers of "The Grass Is Always Greener" was Lauren Bacall (and I think I had forgotten the song came from a musical by Kander and Ebb, although listening to its brassy swing, I don't know who else it could have been). Standing Room Only on WERS used to play it all the time. I like how her voice softens on the repeated line That's wonderful, but her unimpressed What's so wonderful? could pass for Elaine Stritch. This makes me desperately sad that Bacall never recorded "The Ladies Who Lunch."

4. This is a gorgeous photoset, but I would love to see the on-set photos from the shoot. Like, the backstage stuff. People just standing around on snack breaks, being Klimt paintings.

5. This was true last weekend as well, but I was at Readercon and couldn't do anything about it: [personal profile] spatch swapped in for one of the hosts of the PMRP's Murders and Scandals: Poe and Doyle at the last minute, so I'll see him this weekend on one of the nights I'm not seeing Jack Buchanan.
Music:: Lauren Bacall & Marilyn Cooper, "The Grass Is Always Greener"
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey)
Van Heflin's first starring role and the feature debut of director Fred Zinnemann, MGM's Kid Glove Killer is not a lost classic of crime cinema, but it is a fun little procedural of a B-picture with some sharp dialogue and more forensic detail than I've seen in this era until John Sturges' Mystery Street (1950); its technical tickyboxes include ballistic fingerprinting, fiber analysis, spectrography, endlessly labeled slides, and the first-rate chemistry in-joke of mocking up a reaction with dry ice so that the flask looks like it's got something really fancy going on inside it. The film's heroes are a pair of underpaid scientists working for the crime lab of the Chicago-ish city of Chatsburg, which has lately suffered the shocking double loss of both its crusading DA and its sincerely incorruptible mayor, neither of natural causes unless ropes, ponds, and car bombs can be filed under acts of God; despite the necessarily painstaking nature of their work, Heflin's Gordon McKay and Marsha Hunt's Jane Mitchell find themselves expected to deliver miracles on command, conjuring a killer's name out of the stray threads and burnt matches and dog hairs that might as well be so many oracle bones as far as the impatient police, press, and public are concerned. No one outright suggests railroading the small business owner seen loitering around the mayor's house the night before the explosion—furious that the new DA's vaunted crackdown on crime didn't extend to the hoods shaking him and his wife down for protection—but there's a lot of official pressure to connect the dots to Eddie Quillan's hot-headed innocent. In the meantime a sort of love triangle is progressing between the two scientists and one ambitious lawyer, although the viewer can't invest too much in the romantic suspense since our privileged information includes the identity of the murderer. I confess I'm not sure where the kid gloves came into it.

It is rare for me not to like Heflin in a film, even when he's playing kind of a dick, and he makes an engaging proto-nerd here, a slouchy, grouchy smart-ass in a lab coat who has managed to figure out that he's in love with his educated, attractive coworker but not yet that flirting by insult only works for Oscar Levant. (His eventual apology is legitimately adorable.) Hunt as Mitchell is nicely, unequivocally competent and has little time for her colleague's negging even as it's clear from space that she'd reciprocate his interest if he were only a little less schoolyard about it, but her character feels like a conservative compromise when she insists repeatedly—despite sufficient aptitude for chemistry that she has a master's degree in it—that forensics is "no career for a woman." I do appreciate that heteronormativity is defused at least once by McKay conceding wryly that it's "not much of a career for a man, either. No prestige, no glamour, no money. People holler at you when there are no miracles." I suppose it is also sociologically interesting that the script's anxiety about science and gender runs both ways—unless it's to prove that spending nine-tenths of your life behind a microscope doesn't make you less of a man, I have no idea why McKay is apparently incapable of confronting a suspect without a fight scene. He is otherwise not very macho, which I am fine with. He can't throw a dart straight to save his life. If the human heart were located in the right elbow, though, that firing-range target would have totally had it.

The extremely spoilery original trailer suggests that Kid Glove Killer was intended as the start of a series and I'm almost surprised it didn't happen—if Thin Man stand-ins Joel and Garda Sloane could get a trilogy, I don't see why we couldn't have enjoyed more McKay and Mitchell. As it is, the one film is all we've got. It runs 72 minutes and they are worth it all for the scene in which Heflin performs a precise, self-annotated mime of catching, cleaning, preparing, and then jettisoning a trout, all with the serious concentration of the slightly sloshed. He handles plain air so confidently, you can see the glint of the butter knife he's cleaning on the tablecloth and want to hand him one of those modern-day rubber grips for the ketchup bottle with the sticky cap. I have no idea if it was part of the original script or improvised on set or what on earth, but now I want to know where I can find more Van Heflin doing mime. He and Zinnemann would later reteam to superb and less comic effect in Act of Violence (1948). I appear to have seen Hunt as the Broadway-bent eldest of Frank Borzage's Seven Sweethearts (1942), but I don't hold it against her. Ava Gardner cameos as a cute married carhop. I hope to God mineral oil salad dressing is as much a thing of the past as the constant chain-smoking in chemically sensitive laboratory conditions. [edit: WHAT THE HELL IT'S NOT.] This investigation brought to you by my scientific backers at Patreon.
Music:: Marnie Stern, "Year of the Glad"
July 18th, 2017
erinptah: Cat in a backpack (cat)
Linguistics links:

Nothing new under the sun: "in tibullus 1.8 (a poem about his boyfriend Marathus) has this line about “pugnantibus linguis” (literally battling tongues) which means that the idea of tongues battling for dominance in homoerotic fiction has been going on since at least the 1st century bce"

From Seaspeak to Singlish: cool English dialects and English-based creoles.

Hawaiian pidgin has a great all-purpose noun -- it's "you-know-what", "whatchamacallit", "so-and-so", and "the thing" all at once.

Cat links:

Before there were laptops, cats were happy to sit on our portable typewriters.

"I was right there in case he got upset — I was expecting him to hiss or growl or slink away. But then one of the ginger kittens started licking Mason’s ear, and Mason sort of leaned into it and closed his eyes like it was the most amazing thing ever."

July 17th, 2017
sovay: (Claude Rains)
So there is a famous scene in Sidney J. Furie's The Ipcress File (1965) in which Michael Caine's Harry Palmer impresses Sue Lloyd's attractive fellow counter-espionage agent with a home-cooked omelet prepared and plated as deftly as a fine restaurant; it impressed me, especially when he cracked the eggs one-handed (in a close-up cameo from author Len Deighton) without crumpling fragments of shell everywhere. I've still got this brace on my right hand, so [personal profile] spatch cooked me an omelet for dinner before he left for work tonight because he had made one for himself last night when he got home and it had looked beautiful and I'd have needed two working hands. With my one working hand, however, I can now crack an egg on the side of a bowl without crumpling fragments of shell everywhere two out of three times (the third time required some fishing) and I am genuinely pretty proud of this fact.
Music:: Oh, Rose, "the ballad of love after love"
July 16th, 2017
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
I am home from Readercon and I have fed the cats and I think Autolycus has even forgiven me for not being around the last few nights to provide a keyboard for him to walk on, since he just sprang up and left the comment "ggggggggggggggggggggggggggcfghhhhhhhhh" on Facebook. (It was surprisingly apt in context. More people have liked it than have liked the actual-words comment I'd left just above.) Hestia has rubbed her head all over my shirt in order to reclaim me as part of the household rather than a hotel that doesn't even smell like cat. I had a really good weekend.

I had five program items on Friday. The first was my reading, which I think went well; it was recorded by both Readercon and Jim Freund of Hour of the Wolf, so I'll link to either or both as they're made available. I read from my recently completed, as yet unpublished short story "The Face of the Waters" with new poetry on either side and wore glasses in public for the first time, which was less a cosmetic issue than a matter of figuring out how to negotiate eye contact with my audience without bifocals. Of the panels that followed, I don't think any of them were trainwrecks: "I Am Become Death . . . No, I Mean Literally" went off-script almost immediately, but in an abstract, ethnographic way that the audience as well as the panelists seem to have enjoyed, and "The Works of Tanith Lee" was as wide-ranging as the literature we were talking about. I feel bad about overstating the degree to which I believe Owen Davies is a parental fuck-up during "Classic YA Book Club: The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper," but I regret nothing about rhapsodically anti-recommending Kathleen Sky's Witchdame (1985) in "Terrible . . . but Great" because somebody turned to me abruptly in an elevator the next day and complimented me on my flailing. More seriously, someone else told me that they had scoured the dealer's room for Lee's work because of the way I talked about her on the panel and been rewarded by everything they had read so far. That was really nice to hear.

In the one non-programming group activity I managed all weekend, I joined [personal profile] rushthatspeaks, [personal profile] ashnistrike, [personal profile] skygiants, and [personal profile] kate_nepveu for dinner at Taipei Cuisine, with dessert at Yocha afterward. There was sweet corn with salty egg yolk and chili-fried shrimp with peanuts and lotus root with mushrooms and sesame chicken and a couple of dishes that didn't work out but were worth ordering just to see what they were like, although "with bones in" is not how anybody was expecting the popcorn frog. I hope I can get a coconut smoothie with lychee jelly other places than Yocha, because it's a really nice dessert. I would not be the person to write it, but I hope someone does a serious critical survey of that phase of '80's fantasy when it was all idtastic, all the time.

I do not know if I can promise a Patreon review of it, but I nonetheless recommend "Level Seven" (1966), a formerly lost episode of Out of the Unknown (1965–71) adapted by J.B. Priestley from Mordecai Roshwald's 1959 pre-and-post-apocalyptic novel of the same name; it is more streamlined and more of a parable than its source material, but pulls no more punches when it comes to the likelihood of surviving MAD. Young David Collings turns out to remind me of Peter Cushing. I think it's the cheekbones and the breakdowns.

The rest of Friday night was terrible. Between four and five in the morning, I had some kind of severe allergic reaction to an unknown trigger. It was like anaphylaxis with violent nausea: I took Benadryl as soon as I realized that my throat and mouth were prickling and swelling and I had suddenly stopped being able to breathe through my nose and for all I know it saved my life, but did not prevent the rash all over my body or the wheezing when I breathed. Sleep was not so much a thing for the rest of the night. I took Benadryl conscientiously round the clock until this evening and the symptoms gradually subsided, but it took a full twelve hours for my mouth to stop being numb. I have no known food allergies; I am hoping I have not suddenly developed any. The best medical guess right now is either one bad shrimp or some kind of slow-building reaction to a medication I started a week and a half ago. I will be calling my doctors about it on Monday. It was scary.

I had one panel on Saturday at noon and I feel slightly as though I hallucinated my way through it, but I remember talking about Phyllis Gotlieb and Yoon Ha Lee and The Robots of Death (1977), because the panel was "Life, Love, and Robots," and then I drifted briefly through the dealers' room with my mother and ran into [personal profile] aedifica for a very careful lunch (I dissected the chicken out of a chicken sandwich) and then I slept for the rest of the afternoon. I did not manage to have dinner with [personal profile] yhlee. I did not manage to have dinner at all. I did manage to spend portions of the evening hanging out with Yoon and [personal profile] choco_frosh and Rush-That-Speaks and Ashnistrike and [personal profile] nineweaving, cautiously drinking herbal tea and eating my way through the pocketful of ginger chews I stole from the green room. Instead of attending any of the con's numerous room parties, I went back upstairs and answered some e-mail and continued reading Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising (1973), which I had brought in hardcover to the previous day's panel. [personal profile] spatch came out after his evening show and stayed with me just in case I stopped breathing in the middle of the night. I didn't.

I got the news about Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor right before arriving for "Disturbed by Her Song: Gender, Queerness, and Sexuality in the Works of Tanith Lee," so Rush-That-Speaks and Steve Berman and I talked about Doctor Who for the first five minutes and I maintain gender-changing, self-reinventing immortals are totally on point for a discussion of Tanith Lee anyway. It was an enormously fun panel and may have repercussions.

This was a good year for books. I came away from the convention with Michael Thomas Ford's Lily (2016), L.A. Fields' Homo Superiors (2016), John Maddox Roberts' The Seven Hills (2005), Michael Cisco's The Wretch of the Sun (2016), Yevgeny Zamyatin's The Dragon (ed. and trans. Mirra Ginsburg, 1967), and five pulp novels by Fredric Brown all courtesy of [personal profile] alexxkay: The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947), The Dead Ringer (1948), The Bloody Moonlight (1949), The Screaming Mimi (1949), and Compliments of a Fiend (1950). I could not afford the first edition of Nicholas Stuart Gray's The Apple-Stone (1965) on display at Somewhere in Time Books, but I am going to look for it in libraries because either I've read the Nesbit-like scene in which the children bring a Bonfire Night guy to life and it takes its face and voice from all of them by turns or someone once described it to me and either way it gave me the same jolt of half-recognition as Eleanor Farjeon's The Silver Curlew (1953), so I need to figure out what happened there. This was not a good year for seeing people, but I am glad to have caught the people I did, like [personal profile] lesser_celery and Gillian Daniels and briefly [personal profile] rosefox, and especially pleased that I managed to snag a conversation with Michael Cisco and Farah Rose Smith on Friday before my corporeal manifestation blew up. I did not take notes on any programming, but Kate Nepveu did.

(Can Martin Landau have played one of the first queer characters I ever saw in a movie? We can argue about the positive representation of "Call it my woman's intuition, if you will" Leonard in North by Northwest (1959), but he's not even subtext: I always read him and James Mason and Eva Marie Saint as a triangle. I found out he had died as soon as I got home; I had already seen the same about George Romero and Maryam Mirzakhani. Jeez, Sunday.)

Either to sum up or really bury the lede, I can now announce that Steve Berman of Lethe Press will be publishing a collection of my short fiction in 2018. Details are yet to be determined, but it will be my first fiction collection since Singing Innocence and Experience in 2005 and I am incredibly happy about it. I will share the details as soon as they exist.

My plans for the immediate future involve sleep.
Music:: British Sea Power, "Remember Me"
erinptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)
Down to my last 48 images on Photobucket. Have a rescued picspam.

It's Mma Precious Ramotswe and Mma Grace Makutsi, the heroines of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Hugging. Seriously, it's just screencaps of this one great time they hugged.

Precious and Grace

That's Mma Ramotswe on the left. She's the detective. Very smart, very good with emotions, lots of tragic backstory. IIRC she's feeling the tragic backstory pretty hard in this moment.

And Mma Makutsi on the right. Very serious secretary/manager, first in her class, doesn't much approve of Feelings. The fact that she's having some is a big deal.

Doubles as an art reference for anyone looking to draw a hug. )
July 13th, 2017
sovay: (Sydney Carton)
posted by [personal profile] sovay at 02:55am on 13/07/2017
It is the night before Readercon and I am running a fever. I had a nausea-making headache all day, but I thought it would break when we got the torrential rain that briefly turned our street into a water park and caused the women's toilets at [personal profile] spatch's rehearsal space to overflow. It ebbed a little and I finished my work and then I had to stop looking at my computer and lie down for several hours in a darkened room. I get that on some level my body just wants to exist in a state of perpetual Victorian ill health, but the second floor does not a garret make—especially when we have upstairs neighbors—and I am unconvinced that laudanum would work any better on me than most opiates. Also, I'd really just rather not.

1. I don't know whether to describe this essay on Brian Clemens' The Professionals (1978–83) as a celebration, a critique, or stomp-on-the-brakes rubbernecking, but it's wonderfully written and has convinced me that the show was definitely something, even if not necessarily something I want to see. Okay, maybe a couple of episodes. "Having watched the whole of Sapphire & Steel, every surviving episode of Ace Of Wands and his contribution to the children's supernatural series Shadows, I can say without hesitation that 'Heroes' is by far the least realistic thing that PJ Hammond has ever written."

2. Speaking of sympathy for the fascists: vidding Star Wars' Imperials to "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" might sound like low-hanging fruit, but it's Lorde's cover and the vid is both darkly funny and creepingly immersive. [personal profile] handful_ofdust calls it "a Mirror Universe existence" and I had somehow not quite noticed before that unless the vidder futzed with the light levels, Imperial interiors in the original films all look like something out of a horror movie, Kubrick-sterile and glowing dark as space. The music sometimes follows and sometimes illuminates the images and the whole project basically delights me in the same way as realizing a few years ago that Piett fandom had gone mainstream. ([personal profile] kore, are you the person who directed me to Michael Pennington's deleted scenes?) Rob observes that the line about Mother Nature is especially trenchant in context of the Battle of Endor "when they're fucking defeated by Ewoks and trees."

3. Speaking of getting fucking defeated by nature, Rob has chronicled on Twitter the night the baby spiders decided to join us in the shower.

4. Speaking of things I wish hadn't happened, this article courtesy of [personal profile] rushthatspeaks is an interesting and valuable look at the filming of rape scenes and it is not that I feel bad now for having loved Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo (1970) when I saw it, but I feel a lot stranger about future Jodorowsky and that really angers me.

5. I don't have a good segue here. They Can Talk reminds me a lot of The Far Side. I am especially fond of "Shark Rescue" and "forbidden."

At least I have no programming of my own tomorrow.
Music:: Lorde, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
July 12th, 2017
erinptah: (daily show)
While the Internet is going "can we impeach him NOW?" over Donald Trump's kid releasing his own treasonous emails, here's a grab-bag of other terribleness the right has been up to.

Donald: "On the campaign trail, Mr Trump repeatedly criticised President Barack Obama for golf outings during his presidency but as of his last trip to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Mr Trump has spent his 35th day at one his own golf properties." That's over 20% of his "presidency," for those keeping score.

'This is an act of insanity,' a former Trump inner-circle associate told me, 'but it’s how he functions.'”

Mike Pence: "He touched a piece of critical space flight hardware in the Orion clean room, despite the fact that there was a sign that clearly read, 'DO NOT TOUCH.'"

The State Department: "His team apparently waited too long to book accommodations for the President [at the G20] and his travelling staff and were told none of the major hotels had vacancies." And this isn't even the first time: "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had to stay several miles away - at a sanitarium outside of Bonn - from other leaders at the February G20 ministers' meeting."

The Defense Department: "National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all supported Trump [reaffirming Article 5] and had worked in the weeks leading up to the trip to make sure it was included in the speech, according to five sources familiar with the episode. They thought it was, and a White House aide even told The New York Times the day before the line was definitely included."

Eric Trump: "...while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses."

Mitch McConnell: "I didn't expect Donald Trump to win, I think most of my colleagues didn't, so we didn't expect to be in this situation [of having to follow through on our own promises]."

Hobby Lobby: Hobby Lobby has been smuggling thousands of illegally-gained artifacts out of Iraq. In case you're wondering, yes, this almost certainly means Hobby Lobby directly funds terrorists. Hobby Lobby is a sponsor of terrorism.

The RNC: "Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server." (Hey, remember how many Americans' personal data was exposed because of Hillary's emails? None of it!)

The House: "Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) praised the recent Islamic State attack in Tehran as a 'good thing' and suggested that maybe the United States should work with the militant organization."
rushthatspeaks: (sparklepony only wants to read)
posted by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks at 09:36pm on 12/07/2017
I don't expect to make the convention Thursday evening.

Friday July 14

6:00 PM 6 Terrible... but Great. Lila Garrott (leader), Bart Leib, Natalie Luhrs, Sonya Taaffe, Vinnie Tesla. Our panelists muse on books that are really bad but in an amazing way! Genevieve Valentine's term "shitmazing" may be appropriate here. What makes something both terrible and great? Are these works worth analyzing and perhaps even emulating, or do they exist simply to be enjoyed (if that's the word) on their own merits (if that's the word)?

This should be fun. Anybody else remember Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Crazy Beautiful (HOOKS FOR HANDS), or John Boyd's The Pollinators of Eden (KILLER SEXY PSYCHIC SPACE TULIPS)?


7:00 PM C The Works of Tanith Lee. Lila Garrott, Sonya Taaffe, Emily Wagner. Tanith Lee (1947-2015) was a supremely talented writer who worked in numerous genres and forms. She wrote children’s novels (The Dragon Hoard (1971)), Vancian fantasy (the five-novel Tales from the Flat Earth series), historical romance (The Gods Are Thirsty (1996)), fantasy/horror (The Book of the Damned (1988)), science fiction (the four-novel Birthgrave series), thriller/horror (the three-novel Blood Opera series), far-future science fiction (the Drinking Sapphire Wine duology), and more, including erotica, Gothic romance, and straightforward horror. Lee was clever, manipulating genre tropes and clichés in skillful and unusual ways. Lee was poetic, writing of everything from sex to childhood in lyrical fashion. And she was prolific, writing over one hundred novels and collections. She was twice nominated for the Nebula Award, ten times for the World Fantasy (winning twice), and six times for the British Fantasy Award (winning once), and was given the Grand Master Award from at the World Horror Convention in 2009 and the Life Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2013. As critic John Clute wrote, "Lee encompassed every genre of the fantastic... with supple attentiveness and an ongoing exuberance of invention which transcends... genre constraints." Join us to celebrate her work.

I wrote the entry on Lee in The Encyclopedia of Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy, which is one of the more random line items on my resume. I always enjoy talking about Tanith Lee.


Saturday July 15

2:00 PM C Lines of Consent in Fiction. Samuel R. Delany, N.S. Dolkart, Lila Garrott, Kiini Ibura Salaam, Josh Jasper. In science fiction and fantasy, consent is often handled in fuzzy, imprecise ways. Obvious scenarios of non-consent, such as the enslaved house elves in the Harry Potter books, are easily identified as problematic, but less is said about magical destiny that compels an ordinary person to become a hero; inherited magic, rank, or family feuds that empower or endanger a character without their consent; soul mates, who are forced to love and be attracted to each other; werewolves compelled to change shape under the full moon; and other strictures that are so common we've come to take them for granted. This panel will discuss work that either explicitly deals with consent or appears oblivious to its relevance, and will explore the writer's responsibility when placing characters in a scenario (or plot) that hinges on questionable consent or non-consent. Content note: this panel may explicitly discuss violations of consent and their consequences. For the purposes of this panel, trigger warnings and content notes are assumed to be valuable tools that assist the reader.

I haven't seen a convention have this panel before. It's an important panel. Let's hope we can do it right-- given the lineup, I should think so.


3:30 PM B Reading: Lila Garrott. Lila Garrott. Lila Garrott reads an excerpt from their novel-in-progress, The Journeyers.

PLEASE COME YOU'LL LIKE IT. The book is very hard to describe, especially since it's not like I've sat down and tried to write a blurb for it yet, but I promise it is enjoyable.


Sunday July 16

12:00 PM 6 Disturbed by Her Song: Gender, Queerness, and Sexuality in the Works of Tanith Lee. Steve Berman (moderator), Lila Garrott, Sonya Taaffe. Memorial Guest of Honor Tanith Lee thoroughly explored gender, queerness, and sexuality in her fiction, creating cultural pansexuality in the Flat Earth series and queering history in the Lambda Award–winning Disturbed by Her Song. Lee wrote lush, sensitive, poetic prose about people unrestricted by gender roles or cultural norms, and she did it for forty years. Were there any missteps along that span? Does her “channeled” writing as spectral lesbian author Esther Garber (and Esther's pansexual half-brother, Judas Garbah) stand out from the greater body of her sexually charged work? How did she handle her portrayals of trans people and their sexuality? Our panelists will discuss queer themes, sexual exploration, and sexual fluidity in Lee's work.


1:00 PM 5 Clothes Make the Story. S.A. Chakraborty, John Chu, Lila Garrott, Kathleen Jennings, Shariann Lewitt. Costuming says a great deal about era, wealth, status, and taboo in both the setting of a work and the time and place where that work was created. It's frequently discussed in the context of visual media, but costuming can be just as important in literature, and it's a vital part of worldbuilding for speculative works. This panel will dig into the implications of clothing choices in speculative fiction, how they age as the work ages, how they interact with diverse readers' expectations around concepts such as modesty and gender, and their use as signposts to help the reader understand how to approach the created world.

An astonishing amount of post-modernist theory centers around clothing, and I'd like to see that transfer to the conversation of SFF. Lo, Barthes did not Fashion System in vain.


2:00 PM 5 Imagining a New Normativity. Lila Garrott, Shariann Lewitt, Alena McNamara, Tui Sutherland. In the varied settings of fantasy and science fiction, writers have an opportunity to model characters who don't make familiar assumptions related to personal characteristics such as gender, sexuality, politics, race, and religion. Some speculative worlds have new defaults, such as the setting of Rose Lemberg's "Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds," in which women are expected to form families with other women; in others, the default is to make no assumption at all, as in the world of full gender parity in Tanya Huff's Quarters series. This panel will explore some of the new norms of recent works, and discuss techniques for writers interested in creating worlds with new notions of normativity.

An object perpendicular to another object is said to be normal to it. This is pretty much how I feel about the concept of "mainstream"-- perpendicular. My day-to-day life, meanwhile, is apparently so unimaginable that the details of it don't come up in art, which is ridiculous.


Also I will be around generally, and [personal profile] gaudior and Fox will be there on Sunday, though I'm not sure yet at what time or for how long.

I look forward to seeing a lot of you there!
sovay: (Rotwang)
posted by [personal profile] sovay at 06:44am on 12/07/2017 under
Being sick of not writing about movies, I appear to be writing about TV instead. Some weeks ago, [personal profile] lost_spook recommended me Chris Boucher's The Robots of Death (1977) on the grounds of David Collings and Tom Baker-era Doctor Who generally. The last time I'd seen the Fourth Doctor was "The Day of the Doctor" in high school when a friend who liked Douglas Adams rented The Pirate Planet (1978) with me. All I seem to remember of that one is a cyborg parrot. The Robots of Death delivers all round.

The story is straight science fiction, which I think of as rare for Doctor Who; visible influences include Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Karel Čapek, Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang, Art Deco, and Agatha Christie, so we're talking a murder mystery in a remote outpost of a decadent civilization sustained entirely by the labor of artificially intelligent but strictly constrained robots, with sumptuous retro-futurist costuming (Morojo would be proud) and the elegant aerodynamics of streamline moderne everywhere. The robots themselves are sculpted in black and green and silver metal according to their grade and function, their classical features planed into perpetual smiles, their inlaid eyes as serenely empty as a Tiffany shade. As if flirting with the man/machine boundaries that they otherwise take such pains to reinforce, humans on this unnamed planet make up their own faces in the same contoured patterns, though much more delicately, mostly some linear accents around the eyes and nose. I got a slight glam rock vibe off the whole mise-en-scène, although it might just be this future's idea of reasonable hats. Everyone in the guest cast lives and works aboard Storm Mine 4, a vast mineral-harvesting ship on a world of sandstorm-swept deserts staffed by a small human crew and dozens more robots of all three classes. We get a few hints of wider worldbuilding—the Twenty Founding Families, Kaldor City, the Company—but the touchy dynamics among this small group are front and center, as is only appropriate when one of them is about to turn up dead. Strangled, so there's no chance of an accident, with a curious red disc stuck to his hand—a "corpse marker," which we shortly learn are used in technical contexts to identify irreparably damaged or permanently deactivated robots. Suspicion at once explodes in all directions among the already bickering crew, though there is one possibility no one raises until the arrival of the Doctor and Leela (Louise Jameson), the one the title portends. And should the mysterious serial strangler turn out to be a robot, a voiceless Dum, a reliable Voc, an autonomous Super-Voc with all the "million multi-level constrainers in its circuitry" somehow switched off and the ability to contravene the universal "prime directive" against harm to humans switched on? The Doctor's seen it before: "Oh, I should think it's the end of this civilization." We won't get to see that apocalypse, but we will witness the personal equivalent.

Collings plays Chief Mover Poul, a kind of engineering officer, and between this serial, Sapphire & Steel (1979–82), and the casting of ITV's Midnight Is a Place (1977–78), I'm close to concluding it is his life's work to play the characters I would naturally gravitate toward in any narrative where he appears. He has a trickster look here, too, sharp-faced, copper-haired, a dryly spoken observer with a gift for throwaway sarcasm—asked if a body was like that when he found it, his reply is, "Just a little fresher." The audience may guess that he's hiding something even before Leela observes that he "move[s] like a hunter, watch[es] all the time," but it's not obvious what, except that he feels the least likely of the human suspects. He sees more than he says, distracts when tensions escalate, laughs to himself but says nothing when the mine's commander repurposes one of Poul's own ripostes. He has a nervous habit of fiddling with the communicator that hangs like a medal from the breast of his sharp-shouldered tabard. Sometimes when no one's looking his face flickers apprehensively and he sputters with excessive denial at the Doctor's suggestion of killer robots, but his crewmates are dropping like flies with no solution in sight, who wouldn't be afraid? He smiles and talks easily and cynically with Leela about the money to be made sandmining, the only reason he claims he signed on to a two-year tour in this refrigerated, mechanized sluice box when he'd "rather live with people than robots, that's all." Between one scene and the next, very suddenly, he cracks.

We've all got something to hide. Don't you think so, Commander? )

In short, this is one of the reviews where I come in late to a classic, but at least I came in. I am not surprised that it's a fan favorite; I don't even know that I can call myself a fan, but I think it's terrific. It's a good science fiction mystery. It has characters as well as cleverly interlocked ideas. It definitely gives good David Collings. This mental thing brought to you by my important backers at Patreon.

Poul


1. For maximum irony of the sort that comes to pass if a person does enough science fiction, Collings played 51st-century robot detective Daneel in a 1969 BBC adaptation of The Naked Sun (1957), which I assume like its source novel came down to the terrifying concept of positronic brains not bound by the Three Laws of Robotics—robots that could harm humans, even without knowing it—and which the internet helpfully tells me does not survive in any form barring some of Delia Derbyshire's sound work. Damn it, BBC. [edit] In fact, it looks as though the BFI did a reconstruction from the surviving soundtrack and stills, further details of which can be found at WikiDelia. I'm still side-eying the BBC.

2. I appreciate that he survives the story, though I mind a little that it leaves him at loose ends, catatonic on the bridge of the sandminer without even third-party dialogue to point toward his fate. My preferred headcanon would involve him getting offplanet somewhere he doesn't have to be around robots all the time, but it looks as though radio canon has him reappearing full bore loony some years later. Maybe I will ignore radio canon. Opinions? Everyone is just lucky I did not see this serial in high school instead of The Pirate Planet, because I wouldn't have written Poul fix-it fic—I didn't start writing fanfiction until I was out of grad school—but I am pretty sure hopelessly derivative original fiction would have been guaranteed.

3. I would love to know if there is believed to be any link between The Robots of Death and Dan O'Bannon and Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), because I have to say that one looks a lot like a direct forerunner of the other, not just in the isolated, claustrophobic and-then-there-were-none premise, but elements of plot and atmosphere like company agents embedded in regular crews and futuristic long-haul work being just as tiresome as the twentieth-century kind. Ian Holm's Ash pretty much is what you would get if you combined Poul with D84 and turned the sympathy way down on both sides.
Music:: ONSIND, "Old Hazel Eyes Is Back"
July 11th, 2017
erinptah: Cat in a backpack (cat)
posted by [personal profile] erinptah at 07:46pm on 11/07/2017 under , ,
The couch I'm sitting on to write this, the one I'm usually sitting on when browsing/coloring/ficwriting, is really old. My parents got it (with a matching set of chairs) when I was in high school. It's the one big piece of furniture I took when I moved to Massachusetts.

More interestingly, it's been sat on by every cat I've ever lived with.

And I have photos!

2003-2006: Tabitha )

2009-2010: Ziggy Stardust )

2010: Bingley )

2010 again: Darcy )

2013: Isis )

2017: Molly )
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
I napped about two hours in the afternoon. The rest of the day went toward my computer: I needed to back up the hard drive before replacing the thoroughly defunct battery and somehow that turned out to take forever. The battery transplant worked. My right hand hurts, but it's not screaming like it was last night, so there must be something to this splint theory. So far it seems that the most difficult thing about the brace is not so much having my dominant hand partly out of commission, because I am ambidextrous enough that I can get by unless I need to write with my left hand, which I can't do, as realizing repeatedly that I need two working hands for things I don't think about, which is why I have just seriously done a search for one-handed shoelace knots.

A year after discovering Dan Taulapapa McMullin's Coconut Milk (2013) in the bookstore in South Station where I could not afford to take it home—or to New York City, as I believe was actually the case—I have finally acquired my own copy. It's as good all through as I hoped it would be from the poems I read at the time and after. Also I like his visual art.

On the dining room table is a grocery bag full of used books, mostly poetry, which my father thought I would like. I suspect he is correct. Nikki Giovanni's The Women and the Men (1979), Heather Ramsdell's Lost Wax (1998), and this hardcover second printing of Archibald MacLeish's Public Speech (1936) look great. You could really hurt someone with an ex-library hardcover of Harlan Ellison's The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective (2005).

I still want to write about so many things and I'm not sure it's physically possible. This is infuriating.
Music:: ONSIND, "Lord, Beer Me Strength"
July 10th, 2017
erinptah: A map. (books)
posted by [personal profile] erinptah at 05:06pm on 10/07/2017 under ,
Fixed all the broken images in my DW layouts tag. Here's one I never posted:

preview

Original layout using this Creative-Commons-licensed Manhattan panorama.

Live preview | Screenshot

Title: New York Evening (Fluid)
Credit to: [personal profile] erinptah
Base style: Tabula Rasa
Type: Full layout in CSS
Best resolution: 1024x768+
Tested in: Firefox, Chrome
Features: customizable, variable-width, 2 columns




To use:
  1. Go to Select Journal Style and set your theme to one of the Tabula Rasa styles: 2 columns, sidebar on the right.

  2. Go to Customize Journal Style: Custom CSS, untick Use layout's stylesheet(s), and copy the contents of the above textarea into Use embedded CSS.

  3. Save and enjoy!
sovay: (Sydney Carton)
Holy God, is it inconvenient typing with one hand in a brace. Somehow when the nurse practitioner said "splint," I envisioned something smaller. I've seen vambraces that were less hardcore. I do not know if I will get any movies written about today. My keyboard-intensive job is going to be fun. I think I'm going to see about lying down.
Music:: ONSIND, "You Should Probably Keep It All In"
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey)
posted by [personal profile] sovay at 08:51am on 10/07/2017
I haven't slept all night and I'm so tired that the simple act of switching which hand I used to twist the top off a prescription bottle almost caused me to swallow a childproof cap instead of the morning meds in question, but I have an appointment to get my thumb looked at in just about forty minutes and my mother has loaned me her copy of Boileau-Narcejac's D'entre les morts (1954), currently reprinted under its much better-known movie tie-in title of Vertigo, which I haven't read since 2009 and I am looking forward to finding out if all the noir I've watched since then makes a difference to my reading of the novel. But mostly I need to catch this bus.
Music:: ONSIND, "Mildred"
erinptah: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] erinptah at 02:11am on 10/07/2017 under ,
Down to the last 399 images in my Photobucket account! Among the randomest of the broken images: desktop-screenshot memes from 8 years ago.

Here's what it looked like June 2009, two computers ago, running Windows XP:



And here's September 2009, my previous computer, running the just-released Windows 7:



Picking up the theme, the computer I got during grad school and still have, in July 2017:



That's the wonderful Desktop Calendar app running in the lower right. And in the second column of icons, you can see the folder with miscellaneous Photobucket rescues.
July 9th, 2017
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
I have sprained my thumb. At least, I have no other explanation for a restricted range of movement, a considerable amount of pain, and twinges and aches that run down into the heel of my hand whenever I try to grasp something, with the result that I cannot perform a lot of normal daily tasks with my right hand, don't even ask about texting. I don't know what caused it. For about a week I thought it was getting better, and as of yesterday it definitely is not. We just made dinner and now half my hand is on strike. Typing is considerably slower than it should be. This is especially aggravating because I saw two movies yesterday that I want to write about. Unrelatedly, I would like to sleep at night again, sometime, ever.
Music:: British Sea Power, "True Adventures"

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