tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
2017-03-01 11:19 pm

Exiled from the Past

For Christmas this year, I started asking for DVDs of films that were a bit harder to find. From my wife, I received Agnes Varda in California, a Criterion box set that includes Mur Murs. From my parents, I received The Exiles, which I watched tonight.

The Exiles is about the lives of young American Indians living in Downtown Los Angeles around 1960. The director collaborated with the cast of the film, who recreated scenes from "typical" nights, which coalesce into a single night for the story of the film.

It's noted as a document of Los Angeles history: much of the action takes place in portions of the city that literally do not exist any more. Bunker Hill, at the time a neighborhood of people working in downtown, was razed and rebuilt as office spaces. Hill X, where the characters gather in cars to dance, sing, fight, and generally escape the city, was also leveled to make way for Dodger Stadium. The movie palaces of Broadway exist mostly as neglected facades.

But mostly what I thought about, watching the young men and women meeting in diners, bars, and movie theaters, I think about my dad, who grew up in Los Angeles at about the same time. He would have been in his early teens, and already living on the Westside, pretty far from downtown. But Bunker Hill (and, of course, Chavez Ravine) were filled with Chicanos. And the unselfconsciousness of the filming makes it feel like I'm looking into places where my father or his cousins could have been.

I think I'm going to lend this back to my parents to see what my dad has to say about it.
tablesaw: Futurama's Robot Devil, El Diablo Robotico (El Diablo Robotico)
2015-06-14 06:47 pm
Entry tags:

Dear Lost Librarian

(This is a dear author letter for Lost Library the 2015 iteration of [community profile] invisible_ficathon. This time, we're not writing fanfiction for fictional texts, we're writing the texts themselves, so I'm addressing myself to the archivist who will merely be retrieving these wholly accurate and canon excerpts

In general, I prefer gen, meta, but above all else, I'm a fan of pastiche. So strive for "accuracy" of tone in the "original" and its fictional world, and the content itself is unlikely to make a difference to me.)


Dear Lost Librarian:

Thank you for taking the time to locate, prepare, and present these hard-to-find works of art. I've given some notes regarding what I'm looking to find. Please include any contextual notes you feel appropriate as an archivist, but I would prefer if such commentary is clearly indicated, as I am not intimately familiar with the works in question.

A Perfect Vacuum
Gigamesh

Lem describes aspects of the novel, but the watchwords are "commentary" and "hubris" If you choose to present entirely commentary/footnotes, while leaving the text upon which it comments nonextant (or merely vanishingly small) I would be incredibly happy.

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Dixon Hill (series)

Noir and pulp and pulp and noir. The 30s-40s time frame and the title "The Big Goodbye" give a strong indication that Hill is more similar to Chandler's Marlowe than Hammett's Spade, but any similar period feel is going to be acceptable. Obviously, Picard's holonovels are an adaptation of the original Dixon Hill stories. Though I was original expecting stories or novel excerpts from the original printed fiction, excerpts from any subsequent adaptations would be acceptable as well, as long as they are true to the spirit and character of the originals.

And as always, I would appreciate any excerpt that includes Haircut Lipinsky.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Daddy's Boy (film), Spiderman Too: 2 Many Spidermen (play)

I am a big music lover, so please be sure to include the full lyrics of at least two songs: a big production number, and a lesser-known song. Obviously that it's hard to make an excerpt meet the word count with just lyrics, so feel free to include libretto, stage directions, screenplays, etc.

Mass Effect
Blasto (film series)

I've seen most of the Blasto films several times, so I'd like to see something from the now-hard-to-find Blasto Saves Christmas!. Also, if you have access to any of the Blasto screenplays written after Shepard did that thing that ended the war with the Reapers and changed the universe irrevocably, I'd like to see what effect it had on the Blasto films.

Steven Universe (Cartoon)
Space Train to the Cosmos (Album)

Again, I'd like to see full lyrics to at least two of Mr. Universe's seminal work. In addition, I'd appreciate any contemporary excerpts related to the album, like liner notes, reviews, promotional materials, or outtakes from session recordings.
tablesaw: Ration Hornblower, from the cast of Smile Time, peeks his horn nose out at you. (Ratio Hornblower)
2014-02-12 06:56 pm

Dear Invisible Ficcer

This is my Dear Author letter for Invisible Ficathon. It's also my first Dear Author letter, so bear with me. I'm going to copy the "Details" information (which were written "IC"), and fill it out with some extra information, including source information.

I am not really a fic reader; even in fandoms I'm deep into, I prefer reading meta. The fic I read is rare, usually highly recced out of things like Yuletide, and has kind of meta qualities. I like crossovers and other things that highlight form and literary quirks of the source, rather than having an engagement with the characters themselves. Similarly, I read gen almost exclusively. However, as you will see below, I'm not ruling out romance or porn in some circumstances where I suspect it would be interesting and/or hilarious.

Gigamesh
My favorite part of every Gigamesh fic is the Hannahanian commentary that by necessity accompanies it. I know that fandom has generally decided the commentary should be about twice the wordcount of the accompanying fic (as in the 33/67 Drabble exchanges), but I prefer the ratio to be much more skewed to the commentary side. I'd hope for at least a triple-sized commentary, but if you feel comfortable making it even bigger, go for it!

Also, while I generally read only gen fic, I do also enjoy Gigamesh fic that is half-and-half. I go both ways: romantic/sexual fic with gen commentary is OK, as is gen fic with romantic/sexual commentary. But doubling up on the pairings is right out.
Source: A Perfect Vacuum by Stanislaw Lem.

A Perfect Vacuum is a collection of reviews of fictional books. There are preview pages available on Google Books that can give you an idea of what the book is like. It is modeled after James Joyce's Ulysses (using the mythology of Gilgamesh and Enkidu), and more especially, the very intricate and often suspect textual analysis of the same. "Our task is made easier in that Hannahan—unlike Joyce!—provided his book with a commentary, which is twice the size of the novel itself (to be exact, Gigamesh runs 395 pages, the Commentary 847)."

Blasto (fictional film series)
I also really love the dialogue of Blasto (and Bubin) and love reading crossovers with other fandoms (or vice versa). Gen only. I'm not trying to be a prude, but I'm not interested in reading about Hanar procreative activities. no, not even with Asari.
Source: Mass Effect series.

The Mass Effect wiki has a good summary, but I strongly recommend listening to the entire audio of Blasto 6: Partners in Crime, as taken from the Mass Effect 3; it's about ten minutes. You will understand why I love the dialogue. There's apparently a comic book too, but I haven't read it.

Escape from Zyzzlvaria
I'd love to see Captain Blastoid in a crossover with other fandoms like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Matrix, The Producers, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego and others that have no apparent connection to each other. Gen only, please.
Source: D2: The Mighty Duck Konundrum, MIT Mystery Hunt 2009, MIT Mystery Hunt 2010, Round 2009 (from a different timeline, and so not necessarily canon).

I'm not specifically asking for there to a be a puzzle in the fic, but, if you really want . . .

Tulola-Gobu
I'd really like to see more about what happened between Nasta-se and Dullo-ge before the start of the novel that led to the murder. If at all possible, please write in Chaosian, or, if you can't, be sure to capture as much of the color of the language as you can.
Source: Son of the Realm of Unspeakable Chaos (Translation)

Another puzzle-based source, but I really wanted to include this one because I felt like conlangs deserved a place in the Invisible Ficathon. The known Chaosian dictionary is limited and is mostly dedicated to describing flags, hence my reference to "the color of the language."

See You Next Wednesday
I don't even know how to give guidance. It seems like everyone who writes fic for this has seen a completely different film. If your fic can provide insight into some of those discrepancies, that'd be great, but if not, go wild.
Source: The films of John Landis (Wikipedia page).

This title has referred to lots of different films within films, so I really don't want to limit interpretations, but I'd love to see something that tries to merge two or more. Also, given that one of the most notable See You Next Wednesdays is advertised "A Non-Stop Orgy" (though the parts of the film we see does seem to have lots of orgy interruptions), I totally accept that this one may get porny.

Dixon Hill (series)
I love Haircut Lapinski fic, and I have yet to see anyone address his obsession with fractions with appropriate detail.
Source: Star Trek: The Next Generation (Memory Alpha)

The noir detective novels that Picard uses for holographic recreation. One of the characters gives the line: "I'm as jumpy as Haircut Lapinski trying to land on a fraction." That is the best line. THE BEST. And it has been plaguing TNG fans for a while, based on websearches. It is time for the truth to be known.
tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
2013-11-21 07:09 pm

Mur Murs

I saw Mur Murs at the Aero last week, and had mixed feelings about it. It's a documentary by Agnès Varda about the murals of Los Angeles at the beginning of the '80s. Varda films murals of around Los Angeles talks with many of the artists. I came mostly looking for the aspects of Los Angeles history—and it was great to see some of the murals that have since been destroyed or covered up—but the film overall had a syrupy "artsiness" that left a bad taste in my mouth.

I grew up in Los Angeles in the '80s (though I was only a toddler when this movie was filmed), and there were so many twinges of memory while watching the movie. I don't know how much I've internalized the way film looked at the time as an indicator of what life looked at the time, but everything looked like something out of my vague memory. And judging by the occasional murmuring of the mostly boomer audience, others who were older then felt the same.

Because Varda always seems to have at least one mural in every shot, it leaves you feeling like Los Angeles is a is a city where very wall is filled with color, an art gallery on every street. It's not that way, and it wasn't then, and I was craving the chance to leave the frame to see the mundane spaces that I was more familiar with. But seeing those sometimes out-of-the way places knit into a dream geography is wonderful.

Some of the best moments of the movie involved the members of ASCO, an influential Chicano performance-art group. Members like Willie Herrón and Gronk talk about their early murals, which leads into their discussion of current work, culminating in the filming of an ASCO happening that is part mural, part theater, and, ultimately, part film. It's this kind of artistic synthesis that Varda seems to be chasing throughout the film, though in many places it falls terribly flat.

Where I was looking for the art to speak for itself, Varda seemed to want to comment on the art herself. She stages shots in painfully precious ways. A line of people practice Tai Chi in front of Two Blue Whales. People are provided with props to match the images of the murals they walk past. And most egregiously, while showing the entirety of the Farmer John Packing Plant mural, someone (presumably Varda) makes derisive pig sounds for a few minutes before the narrator (definitely Varda) chastises Farmer John for not showing the artists of the mural the appropriate respect. (Though, to her credit, Varda does make it a point to announce the artist credits whenever their work appears on screen.)

Maybe it's a generational thing; the older audience seemed to be eating those segments up. During the Q&A with Varda, even terrible puns were treated with absurd reverence. But the movie was made for a different audience and a different time. ASCO, who tagged LACMA in protest of Chicano exclusion from the at world, had a retrospective in LACMA recently. I can see how a film like this would be an argument for the art establishment to respect murals, but then I don't care much for that establishment anyway, then or now.
tablesaw: Futurama's Robot Devil, El Diablo Robotico (El Diablo Robotico)
2013-10-20 03:03 pm

The Horror

I'm kind of a horror fan now. And though I'm pretty sure I know how, I'm not sure I know why.

The how is because of Pseudopod. I started listening to Pseudopod about 5 years ago after listening to Escape Pod and then Podcastle. After a while, Pseudopod became my favorite of the three. The stories were more reliably interesting, even when I didn't much care for them.

[personal profile] yeloson pointed out a quote that in a horror story, as opposed to a fantasy story, the rules and logic aren't consistent in terms of the story. Things don't happen because of reasons, they just happen, and the characters have to decide what they do about them. And those choices don't always have clear moral weights to attached to them. I've always liked sci-fi and fantasy for their ability to change reality to fit a story; horror focuses that much more closely, changing reality to point completely at the characters.

Through the same time, I started getting more interested in horror films. I've never much cared for "scary movies" because they usually didn't scare me much. I don't get much of a thrill out of gore or jumpscares. But I started to appreciate that, in trying to reach something specific in "horror," artists reveal something about themselves: what they fear and how they fear it.

And today, I'm excited about my second year of an all-night Halloween horror-movie marathon, last night, I went to see the Carrie remake on its opening night, and I'm going to be posting a bunch of recommendations for Pseudopod.

Apparently, Escape Artists, the group that produces Escapepod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod has been gaining many more listeners than subscribers, and is running something of an emergency fund drive. I've subscribed, and hopefully, I can get a few people interested in the show as well.
tablesaw: One machete is raised, a host more rise to meet it. (From the "Machete" trailer in "Grindhouse".) (Brown Power)
2013-06-07 06:49 pm

"Were She an Ethiope"

STEPHEN GREENBLATT: When I was writing the glosses for the Norton Shakespeare, I remember doing the glosses for Much Ado About Nothing and I came to the line in which Claudio says, I would marry her "were she an Ethiope." So I had to explain what "were she an Ethiope" meant, and I said in the marginal gloss, "Ethiope, i.e., black and therefore, according to the racist Elizabethan stereotype, ugly."

Now, someone criticized me for being too politically correct by saying "racist stereotype." But if you're actually faced with the practical question of how you're going to gloss the thing, you have to say "Ethiope, i.e., Ethiopian, i.e., black," that is clear. But if you're saying I'd marry her "were she an Ethiope," you have to explain what that means, and you could say "i.e., black and therefore ugly," but what does that mean if you're writing a book for a contemporary audience? You have to acknowledge that the values have drastically shifted.

You could also point out, if you were doing a fuller account, that Claudio was actually a very unpleasant character and that happens to therefore qualify this, but it isn't the whole story. The whole story definitely involves a broader, not just the defects of Claudio's character, but a certain set of broader Elizabethan understandings that Shakespeare routinely draws upon, often to make paradoxical effects. He loves this black mistress, the dark lady, and he makes much of the fact that he loves her despite the fact that she's dark and therefore violates the canons of beauty. But you can't begin to understand this if you don't understand something about the values of Shakespeare's time and also recognize that they're not necessarily our values.

Stephen Greenblatt, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University

Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing comes out tonight, and I wanted to quote this passage because this very racist line is included in the film. It didn't have to be, filming or staging Shakespeare means cutting a lot of dialogue (unless you're Kenneth Branagh and want a movie with an intermission). What's more,an anti-semitic line in the film was pointed cut (Benedick saying, of Beatrice, "If I do not love her, then I am a Jew").

In the film, this line is framed very pointedly. As Claudio speaks it, a black woman is framed in the background, making it particularly clear who is being slurred. This deliberate shot is abrupt and unsettling, which contributes to it becoming a laugh line for most audiences. (The audience I saw this with was mostly white; I don't know the makeup of other preview audiences that have reported laughter.) In defending this shot, Whedon has compared this to something that might happen in The Office (interview)

But while it might seem similar on the surface (close enough to encourage laughter by recognizing the form) there are some very important differences. The Office features several characters of different races, all of whom are characterized as having complex lives that overturn the tokenism that American corporate bureaucracy (as embodied by Michael Scott) wants to reduce them to. In contrast, all of the speaking roles and a wide majority of the extras in Much Ado are white. The black woman in this shot isn't seen before or after, and isn't particularly in focus while Claudio speaks either. She exists only to be slurred by one of the leads.

Whedon is also struggling against the narrative of Shakespeare's original source, which wants to unite its opposing forces into honor and harmony. Whedon does a good job of showing Claudio's turn to the dark side, but by the time the slur comes around, Claudio has done his penance and is being redeemed. That's not a narrative that The Office generally worries about (outside of the Pam & Jim's story, which is a more traditional romantic comedy plot).

It creates a very pointed hierarchy. Shaming a white woman at a public wedding is a grievous sin that must be redeemed, but shaming a black woman at a public wedding, eh we'll just let that slide because she's not the bride (never the bride) and we're running out of time.

One reviewer argued that the message of The Office is “Yes, racism still exists, but you are not alone.” But what we see in that moment of Much Ado About Nothing is that the black woman is completely alone; she is isolated, out of focus, denied a voice, in that shot, and in the rest of the movie as well. But for the cast of white characters, well, it's a bit awkward, but hey, you know, Claudio's a good guy. He was really sad at that funeral. Besides, do you even know who that woman is? I mean, are you sure she was invited, because I haven't talked to her.

I don't know what other people think when they see that shot. I suspect that many feel, without even thinking about it, that with the tension of the moment, and the similarity to other, better, comedies about race, laughter was necessary and appropriate. But I know that what I was thinking was that woman probably spent a long time getting ready, choosing her dress, getting her hair made up, feeling really pretty, and then suddenly everyone was looking at her while the groom said black women are ugly and terrible.

I didn't laugh.

Crossposted on Tumblr)

tablesaw: A redshirt says, "I'm just here to pay off my Academy loans anyway." (Academy Loans)
2013-05-07 06:30 pm
Entry tags:

CapeFest 2013, Part 1 (Cover! Cover! Cover! Cover!)

I spent this weekend at the Egyptian for the Cape Town Film Festival, run by Entertainment Weekly and the American Cinematheque. I became a Cinematheque member last year, and really enjoyed it, but I was on the fence about renewing. But shortly thereafter, I heard about this festival and, more importantly, got an income stream again, so I reupped and grabbed a bunch of tickets.

The screenings were lots of fun. It was exciting to see the Egyptian so busy, with the courtyard filled to brimming for each show. It was also a show of force for the volunteers, most of whom I'd seen at other screenings at other times, all of whom were friendly and excited.

The courtyard of the Egyptian Theater filled with people before the 6 p.m. screening of Return of the Jedi.

Earth Rises

This was, probably, the most important film in the entire festival. Some of my favorite moments of the festival happened when I was watching it. With hundreds of geeks in attendance over the course of the week, it was a binding force, something we could share and laugh about.

I am speaking, of course, of the trailer for Season 3 of Falling Skies.



TNT was a sponsor of the festival, specifically promoting the new series of Falling Skies. If you can't or don't want to watch ad, it's a series of dark and dramatic scenes from this show about an alien invasion of the United States (and probably other parts of the world, who even knows). Early on, Will Patton yells Take cover!, and an artificial echo is added to his voice (Cover! Cover! Cover!). For the next few seconds, short snippets of dialogue are punctuated with more Cover!s, growing into a massive crescendo of music, explosions, Cover!, chaos, Cover!, warfare, Cover!, Cover!, Cover!, then silence.

With six hundred nerds in a room at the same time, a good number of them are going to use that silence to yell Cover!

Especially when this ad is run before every film in the festival, with several people, like myself, seeing it several times. It became a bit of a thing.
Falling Skies

As an extra "bonus" the season premiere of Falling Skies was screened before Escape from New York on Friday, which I was attending. It was, exactly the way I remembered it two years ago when I stopped watching the first season because it was too boring. I felt little bad about it. It has a cast full of people I really like, and a lot of the sci-fi elements in this new season seem to be much more interesting than what had been present before. But I just couldn't keep my focus on it. It has the same "a bunch of stuff happens to a bunch of people and then it ends" pacing that I don't like about Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, but without even the occasional character moments that make those later shows somewhat compelling.

I don't really know why they wanted to show it before Escape from New York. I guess there's kind of a similar apocalyptic-action vibe between the two, but they really didn't mesh well, and the Russell/Carpenter crowd was not too pleased with the delay.

The episode was followed by a terrible Q&A. The interviews with actors and filmmakers was of extremely high quality when I was there, but the interviewer in this case was a overexcited puppy asking questions that sounded like a parody of celebrity magazines. The actors had a hard time responding to them as well; Moon Bloodgood had a minor meltdown when she had to field a spoiler-angled question despite having no coaching about what kind of spoilers she was or wasn't allowed to reveal.

The whole event was a dissonance in an otherwise incredibly smooth event. But what else should we expect from the sponsors? It's certainly not the worst commercial break I could imagine for an event like this. And TNT gave us free soda, popcorn, and (for some reason) bandanas. So there's that.
Escape from New York

Okay, here come the actual movies. It's been a while since I watched the movie (I skimmed it for a puzzle a few years back, but didn't have time to sit down and watch it), and so it was mostly hazy TV memories on this one. What I was struck with the most was how much it reminded me of videogames. The Metal Gear Solid references were the most direct, but there was just something about the way Carpenter filmed a lot of the action that feels very much like a videogame today.

Kurt Russell came out after the movie for a Q&A that was very entertaining and touched on lots of his early career. It also sped into some bizarre tangents, such as when the name "Anderson" inspired him to spend a minute or two talking about how good Hugo Weaving was in The Matrix. As for New York, he talked about being terrified of Ox Baker because of his history of hitting people so hard they died after wrestling matches (the actual causes of death are mostly unrelated, but enough to make a young and pretty actor cautious).

Speaking of Kurt Russell being pretty, Kurt Russell looks really pretty in this movie. Russell talked a bit about who might play Snake in a remake of Escape; I'd look toward Ryan Gosling.

(More soon)
tablesaw: Paul, who is a ghost, declares this to be "Booooring!" (Booooring)
2013-01-16 07:09 pm

Wreck-It Ralph: Is That All There Is?

At my birthday bar thing/dinner I was tipped off to the fact that there's a reasonably close movie theater in North Hollywood that shows second-run movies for three dollars, or a buck fifty on Sundays. So [personal profile] temptingcuriosity and I took a trip on Sunday to see Wreck-It Ralph. It was fun, and I'm glad I saw it because everyone else I know has seen it already. And I don't know if you've heard, but it's about videogames.

I wanted to review it here, because I'm committed to doing more reviewing of things, but I can barely bring myself to care enough to think of something to say. I enjoyed myself enough when I was watching it, but by the time I was home my enjoyment had all drained away.

There's no problem that can't be solved in the scope of a two-hour movie, as [profile] joshroby once pointed out, but that doesn't mean that all stories can be told in that scope. In the undoubtedly worked and reworked and re-reworked plot of Wreck-It Ralph, there isn't much room for the stories of characters outside of a precoded series of checkpoints, an inevitable grind until leveling up (but not changing classes).

Perhaps there's something to say here about Wreck-It Ralph's ultimate message that it's better to be happy with your crappy job than to fight the system: the heroes are rewarded for maintaining or restoring the status quo. But, hey, it's a Disney movie with Bowser and Q-Bert in it. It's too big to fail, right?

I did really like Alan Tudyk's amazing performance as King Candy, though. I'd say it was an ok use of two hours and $1.50.
tablesaw: Two yellow roses against a bright blue sky. (Family Roses)
2013-01-08 12:30 am

2013, 35, 52, etc.

This past weekend was a lazy one, like the New Year weekend before. (The Xmas weekend was stressful, with most of my Christmas Day trivia written on Christmas Eve.) [personal profile] temptingcuriosity and I went to LACMA on Saturday, avoiding the bigger events (Kubrick and Caravaggio) and indulging our own personal preferences (Surrealist Drawings and Maya artifacts). On Sunday we stayed in, made bacon pancakes, and lounged around because it was cold outside.

I asked her what she was looking for from the new year, but I already knew what her year looked like, when I thought about it. Really, I wanted her to ask me the question. I know I want to get hired permanently at this new job, but past that I wasn't sure. Talking about it, I realized that I wanted to create more in 2013. Not a particular thing, or a big thing, just lots of things.

Recently, I say a lot that I'm too much in my head. I talk to folks a bit more on Twitter, and I'm talking to people in person, but I'm not getting things out in non-conversational settings anymore. As a true geek, I worry about the narrow bandwidth of talking to people one-on-one; I just don't have enough time to tell things to everyone I would like to. Blog posts allow you, my friends and readers, to time-shift the Tablesaw experience to fit your schedule (something I know I appreciate).

But while blog posts are always things I need to do more often, to get into the habit of writing long things (or just short things that aren't twitter), what I want to do is just create more things that I can share. And saying it the other day made me excited and happy. A good sign, I think.

This year I don't just want to do things I love, I want to make new things to send out into the world with them, so that my experiences can travel beyond the horizon of my personal bubble. I want to write about at least one thing a week, TV, movie, game, what have you. I want to make some more puzzles, definitely at least one thing I can bring to the NPL convention in Austin. I want to finally hide a geocache in LA. I want to make some games, eventually, somewhere. There's a pre-Companions DW/AW game knocking around in my head that mostly needs a lot of research (that TemptingCuriosity is eager to help with).

My birthday is on Thursday, and I turn 35, a number that is a multiple of the amount of fingers on one hand, which means that I'll probably freak out sometime this year, though I'm successfully blocking it out for now. It's a good time to have a plan, and it's a good time to have a plan that focuses so much on simple joys. Last year was not a good one, this one will be better.
tablesaw: Futurama's Robot Devil, El Diablo Robotico (El Diablo Robotico)
2012-05-25 01:46 am
Entry tags:

I'm Not Saying I'm God

Poll #10606 Would You Like to Take a Survey?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 5


Do you like zombies?

View Answers

Yes
1 (20.0%)

No
3 (60.0%)

Um, it's not that we wouldn't like to take your survey; it's more like we'd rather have dental surgery.
1 (20.0%)

Would you like to see George Wendt in a new musical?

View Answers

Yes
2 (50.0%)

No
1 (25.0%)

Would you like to take a hike?
1 (25.0%)

Would you like to see George Wendt as a zombie in a new musical?

View Answers

Yes
1 (25.0%)

No
2 (50.0%)

Try using a better deodorant.
1 (25.0%)



This has been a week for musicals. On Sunday, I saw Reanimator: The Musical. I missed this in its initial run last year, but I am so glad I saw it now as it prepares for a tour to the New York Musical Theatre Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. If you have the opportunity to see it in any of those places, you absolutely should. The staging is uniformly excellent, with Grand Guignol effects as horrific and cheesy one would expect. But I was constantly surprised by the show. The music was better than I expected, in writing and performance. I also didn't realize that the show was created by the same creative team responsible for the Reanimator movie. But mostly, I never thought I would get to see George Wendt as a lobotomized zombie slave on a small stage. That was pretty awesome.

Though it's generally comedic, there are only a few cheap jokes, which makes them stand out all the more. When a large bunch of zombies make their entrance, they do the Thriller dance, of course. And while most songs are original, one is a knock-off version of "My Way." But on the whole, it's an excellent show.

Tonight, I went to the last show of the East West Players' season, A Little Night Music. Though the text remained the same, the production took its design cues from 1910 Shanghai. I've never seen this musical in its entirety, and I really enjoyed it. I also recommend it, though sadly, unlike Reanimator, it does not have a Splash Zone in the audience.



The 9:00 a.m. alarm continues to be a good schedule making me more productive in terms of job search and general doing of things. I've gotten in touch with a staffing agency, and tomorrow I'll be doing a phone interview with a company that is looking to hire a legal word processor for four or five months. If that goes through, it will be a surprise. I was just getting used to the idea of having lots of free time. (I've only learned to cook one new thing!) Still, it'll give me a chance to keep the cash flow going while looking for something more steady.
tablesaw: Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie from <cite>Labyrinth</cite> (Labyrinth)
2012-04-14 04:18 pm
Entry tags:

Things I've Seen.

April 4: The Dark Crystal/Labyrinth

The Egyptian had a double feature for these two films, and it was a lot of fun. As many people are already aware, Labyrinth continues to hold up well as a film. The Dark Crystal does not. It's very steeped in late '70s/early '80s fantasy, and the movie often pauses to watch the puppets do strange things. But while I'll always have a place in my heart for this movie, I'll never be able to watch it at home again. Once you've seen the swamps and the Skeksis and everything in big bright colors, the film just doesn't have a point on the small screen.

April 12: The Cabin in the Woods

I went with a long-time Whedon fan to see this in an advance showing at the Arclight on Thursday. The movie really was amazing, and you should go see it. I do think it's a film that benefits from watching without knowing much about it, so no spoilers from me, but it's a movie that I recommend to pretty much everyone.

I don't generally consider myself a horror fan, but I love listening to the podcast Psuedopod (though I'm eternally backlogged a year behind. But in listening, I get a sense of a wider scope of horror stories than one generally expects from what are classified as horror movies. The Cabin in the Woods fits more comfortably in that wider view than what's typically presented in movies.

Again, I recommend it to everyone, and I am especially hoping to see what [personal profile] yendi thnks of it.

April 13: That Dog Reunion Show

From my Tumblr:
Last night, I went to see the reunion show for That Dog. It's been 20 years since they released their first EP, which is about the same time (probably later in the year), that I listend to them do a live set on KCRW on Brave New World.

The show was billed as having songs that were rarely or never played live. I’m glad it was because That Dog has always been better in the deep cuts than the singles. Listening to them perform "Paid Programming" took me back to that time, lying on the floor of my bedroom listening to the radio, falling in love.
It was really a great show. Either Anna Waronker's voice has gotten a bit lower and coarser over time or she just wasn't trying as hard to get the higher pop sound. Either way, a lot of the songs sounded even better than I remembered. I've loaded all the songs onto my iPod, which is kind of redundant, since they've been stuck in my head all day.
tablesaw: Ration Hornblower, from the cast of Smile Time, peeks his horn nose out at you. (Ratio Hornblower)
2012-02-14 07:00 pm

IMPORTANT POLL!

Poll #9541 GEEKY SATURDAY
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 5


What incredibly geeky thing should I do on Saturday?

View Answers

Attend OrcCon, a local gaming convention.
2 (40.0%)

Attend a screening of all five original Planet of the Apes films.
3 (60.0%)

Defend your position:


I'm working on the Monday holiday, so I'm going to take Saturday off, and there are two competing amazingly geeky things to do, and I'm having a hard time deciding, so I'm polling opinions.

Things to consider (ETA: These are all things that people have asked me to help make a decision):
  • Links: Planet of the Apes | OrcCon
  • Distance: The Egyptian Theatre is in walking distance from my house, while OrcCon is a bit of a drive to the LAX area.
  • Cost: Between registration and parking, a day at OrcCon will cost about $40. A ticket to all of the Apes movies is $15.
  • Friends: Although the Apes marathon will undoubtedly be packed with Apes enthusiasts, I will probably not be attending with any previously known friends. On the other hand, a number of friends and acquaintances will be attending OrcCon either for boardgaming or role-playing. In fact, several of my friends are organizing a Houses of the Blooded LARP.
  • Uniqueness: Strategicon is held three times a year, while Planet of the Apes marathons are . . . somewhat more rare. On the other hand, I have all of the movies on DVD and could organize a showing in my house (with booze, even), while gaming is often ephemeral.
  • PKD: In A Scanner Darkly, the characters plan to attend a marthon of all of the Planet of the Apes movies. They do not plan to attend a LARP.
tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
2011-12-14 12:46 am

Gifty Things 2011

Looking at what I'd like in terms of gifts (for the holidays and beyond), it's very similar to last year:

  • Booze. My bar has grown strong and bountiful, and I always appreciate new and interesting contributions to mix with.
  • Wardrobe. I'm owning up to the fact that my wardrobe contains the following things:
    • Jeans worn casually
    • Chinos worn casually or at work
    • collared shirts worn at work or over
    • Nice T-shirts
    • and occasionally a casual sport jacket.
    New additions to any of those categories are welcome. For T-shirts, think along the lines of Threadless or sites like Threadless. Sizes can vary, but pants are usually 38/34, fitted shirts are 17.5x34/35, T shirts are XL.
  • Music. I still don't get enough of it on my own. Things I've lost from my high-school years (early alternative and trip hop) are what I usually look for when I hit Amoeba.
  • Stuff to do. Movie passes, theatre tickets, nice restaurants. Things to go out and do.
  • Miscellaneous T[hings]
    • A juicer, to go with the new stuff I've been doing with the bar and cocktails.
    • I would still like a tie clip
    • One of these fancy teacup things
Once again, strongly avoid books, videogames, and DVDs, which I already have too many of and not enough time for. The only possible exception is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, since I'll probably play that immediately, regardless of my gaming backlog. Because, you know, it's ZELDA.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
2011-11-27 02:04 pm

Walking It Back

Last night I came home with a headache, and I ended up falling asleep early, sleeping with the lights on. That's always disorienting (I couldn't figure out what day it was when I woke up), though I caught up with the sleep I needed, and I'm feeling much better.

Thanksgiving was a quiet day with family and Gelson's food. It's been gorgeous in LA, recently and Thursday was no exception. I got to see my neice again, who is now walking and occasionally saying syllables.

On Wednesday, I saw The Muppets at the El Capitan, which was cool because the El Capitan is the location of the Muppet Show in the movie itself. As we walked in, the audience received wristbands with jingle bells on them, to accompany the stage show of Kermit and Miss Piggy singing winter holiday songs. As the previews began to play, the audience developed a spontaneous tradition of jingling before the preview played, during the screen containing the MPAA rating.

Working the days before Thanksgiving, I was a wreck, though. As my department gets ready to be transferred to the new company, everyone's been trying to run out their sick days before they lose them when we get cashed out. As a result, we've been horrifically understaffed, with more than half the department gone at any given day. Especially when combined with the holiday. I've been carrying a lot of stress home with me. My holidays are postponed until the end of the month, when I'll get a four-day weekend from November 29-December 2.

On Saturday, I went over to Dave's for his birthday celebration, playing The Secret of Mana to celebrate his 30th birthday. It was a lot of fun. I'd been itching to play videogames for a while, but somehow not managing to sit down to do it when at home. Spending a few hours wandering around on an SNES game was just the ticket.

Earlier that morning, I took part in the LA Homewalk for the United Way. Thankfully, it wasn't raining (it would rain on Sunday), and so everyone stayed dry. The most surprising thing was that according to my GPS, the length of the walk was more than the 3 miles/5 kilometers announced. When I was finished, my GPS said 3.98 miles, well over 6 kilometers. That explains why it took so much longer than expected. In all, I raised over $400 for the United Way.

On Thursday, I saw The Language Archive at the East West Players. It was a really good show, and it hit a bunch of emotional buttons for me, between a painful breakup and the loss of language between generations. There was a question-and-answer session after the show, and the director mentioned that among the ten people at one early production meeting, seven had experiences not speaking the language of their grandparents, including Japanese, Korean, Yiddish, and Lakota. The show continues through this weekend, and I recommend it, if you can make it.
tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
2011-06-24 03:37 am

Navi-Gation

I used to do reviews of the Escape Artists podcasts. Maybe I should do that again. Recently, I've been meaning to post more, but the days slip by without me even noticing I haven't posted again. (On the other hand, my exercise is staying fairly regular, despite wisdom-tooth disruptions, so that's good.) But I really wanted to talk about one particular Podcastle episode I listened to last week. So I'll preface by saying that on the whole, the quality's been good from the shows that I was listening to (though I listen anywhere from a month to a year behind release, usually).

The story I was listening to on Monday was Podcastle 156, "Household Spirits" by C.S.E. Cooney (full text available at Strange Horizons, where it was originally published. I stopped listening halfway through.

Skipping episodes is actually common for me—due to audio issues, substandard performance, or stories that are simply not my cup of tea—not usually anything to remark upon. With "Household Spirits," though, I had to turn it off because of the relentless parade of tropes forwarding racism against Amerindians.

As I was listening to this story, I felt like I was ticking off a checklist, or filling in a bingo card, about how to use harmful racist imagery to not!Amerindians in science-fiction. I spent a while looking for such a checklist. I mean, there's got to be one, surely, what with Avatar, and all that. The best thing I could find actually wasn't related to speculative fiction, but was simply the criteria from How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children's Books for Anti-Indian Bias by Doris Seale, Beverly Slapin and Rosemary Gonzales, published online at Oyate.org.

Let's take one section:
In these hills called Seven Quails by the Kilquuts, back in those days there still was Kilquuts. Our ghost don't talk much. When he does, it's to Jessemee.

I shouldn't say ghost. Jessemee says the better word (just like you with your better words) is genius or numen. I've heard other words too, by other settlers. Ghoulog. Scabby. Shadekin.

Got to tell you, Del, to me it just looks like a boy.

His name, so far as I can coax one, is Mimo.

I know I got that wrong. There are other sounds in between the ones I can hear, but that's close enough for letter writing. Mimo looks a bit like this old Kilquut farmhouse we bought sight unseen. Skinny and leaning, with dirt on it so thick I don't reckon a bunch of bachelors like us'll ever get it scrubbed clean.
What can we check off?
  • Are Native peoples portrayed as . . . simple tribal people, now extinct?
  • Are there insulting overtones to the language in the book? Are racist adjectives used to refer to Indian peoples?
  • Are Native cultures presented in a condescending manner? Are there paternalistic distinctions between "them" and "us"?
  • Are Native peoples discussed in the past tense only, supporting the "vanished Indian" myth? Is the past unconnected to the present?
Or how about this:
About ten years ago, the Kilquut elders had a sit-down at their meetinghouse (big ramble of a place the Gladstones have overrun), and said, They're coming. We can't fight them. We can't become them. We can't leave.

The Kilquut argument, what Jess calls "their focal tenet" (which puts me in mind of you, Del, and those radical ideas you call religion), is that it's always better to die than kill. Easy way to wipe out your species, I say. I told you that before.

So the Kilquuts gathered themselves in a valley. All but the young'uns, who the elders hoped might grow up with no memory of how things'd been. Then the Kilquuts spoke some words they all knew, and the green lightning came down and killed them. The sky opened and poured a month straight, filling up that valley of the dead.
In addition to some things we've already checked off:
  • Are Native Nations presented as being responsible for their own "disappearance?"
  • Does the story encourage children to believe that Native peoples accepted defeats passively?
Continuing on:
After making sure Mimo was okay and not puking anymore, he went outside and cut a switch, then came back in and explained to Mimo, let's see if I can remember the words . . .

"Son, those arrows weren't rightly yours to . . . to . . ." Dad pointed at the green fire but couldn't say burn. "And someday, Mimo, maybe not tomorrow, but someday in the future, if I don't show you right now how it's wrong to break other people's things, it'll go bad for you."
Let's check off:
  • In modern times, are Indian people portrayed as childlike and helpless? Does a white authority figure – pastor, social worker, teacher- know better than Native people themselves what is "good for them?"
And this is just in the first half of the story before I turned it off. And it's not even all that was in the part I listened to. And Oyate doesn't have anything on their list about being magical.

It's not a new idea that there's a problem with speculative fiction writers who attempt to "subvert" or otherwise "neutralize" racist tropes by using their authorial control to make those tropes literally true in their world. So the Navi are literally connected to the earth. Patricia Wrede writes about pre-Columbian Americas that are literally "empty of people but full of dangerous animals, many of them magical." The beings that South Africa are subjecting to apartheid are literally insects. This is not subversion; this is entrenchment.

Finally, there's a general criterion on the Oyate list:
  • Is there anything in the story that would embarrass or hurt a Native child?
It's a question best answered by [personal profile] moniquill:
STORIES LIKE THIS HURT ME.

They hurt PEOPLE LIKE ME. The especially hurt CHILDEN LIKE ME. They hurt me because they are part of a cultural narrative that erases the reality of my existence. That claims that This is what NDNs were and Now they Are Gone isn't it Sad? But if our good readers had been there, OH IF ONLY THEY HAD BEEN THERE, they would have been some of the Good White People and would have Joined The Natives. Yes they would. Which neatly absolves them from having to think about the fact that their ancestors didn't and the lasting ramifications that has on native people living today. Everyone weeps cathartic tears and insists that they'd have helped the Na'vi fight to keep out the unobtamium miners, but precious few of them then go home and help the REAL FUCKING LIVE Dineh (Navajo, to those playing the white name game) fight the uranium miners TODAY in the REAL WORLD. And why should they? The story already absolved them.
Moniquill wrote this and much more because I bugged her about this story before I wrote up this post. As a result, she wrote a far more amazing response than I could hope to come up with, from which I took the above quote. She also subjected herself to the entire story, so if you want to get a taste of even worse things in the story (and even I was shocked at some of he quotes from later in the story), she's your person.
tablesaw: Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie from <cite>Labyrinth</cite> (Labyrinth)
2011-01-23 07:13 pm
Entry tags:

More Festivids

Much like the Caprica itself, Last Chance Texaco starts slow but gains momentum quickly. RLJFTW.

I also know some Profit fans, and this is a good pick.

Life After People and "It's the End of the World as We Know It is a pretty obvious connection, but it's a fun vid.

Marion Ravenwood = Cher in "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves". It's great to see her as the star, and the music is perfect.

I am one of twenty-three people who watched the TV series The Invisible Man, one of the others asked for this Bobby/Hobbes vid.

Also, yay Meldrick
tablesaw: The Mexican Murder Rock from <cite>Warehouse 13</cite> (Mexican Murder Rock!)
2011-01-22 08:33 pm
Entry tags:

Hey, Guys! Festivids! Festivids, Guys!

Festivids—a fanvid equivalent of Yuletide, where people anonymously make vids of smaller fandoms as gifts—went online today. There is some seriously awesome stuff in here.

Full list of vids

Some of the ones I love so far:

I'm not really a fan of the Johnny Cash version of "Hurt," but pairing it with Bruce Wayne circa Batman Beyond is brilliant.

Blade Runner + GnR's "November Rain." I just watched it a seconf time showing it to a friend and I like it even more.

I am a sucker for "Tik Tok" vids: Back to the Future, Scott Pilgrim

I have many fans of Danny Kaye's The Court Jester on my reading list.

The fact that I am able to make specific recommendations has a lot to do with the fact that I've only seen a few.
tablesaw: "This sounds like Waiting for Spy Godot" (Hunt)
2011-01-19 02:33 pm

Mystery Hunt Recs

I still am not quite prepared to talk in detail about the Mystery Hunt, because a lot has to do with my team experience, which was awesome, but also more personal. So instead, here's a list of recommended puzzles from this year's Hunt.

This post contains minor spoilers. Most Mystery Hunt puzzles have little or no instructions. Under the cut tags, I'm going to give more explicit instructions and some comments to make the puzzles accessible, both to more casual solvers and to seasoned veterans who want to skip ahead to the good stuff. (If you don't see any cut text and you would prefer not to see some or all of these spoilers, read this page from my Jaunary 19 page.) Complete answers to each puzzle can be found using the "Call in answer" link at the top of each page.

Keyboard Cat. How it works )

Toad's List. How it works )

Everybody's Got to Be Somewhere. How it Works )

Meta Testing. What It Is, How It Works )

Timbales. What it is )

Stuff Nerd People Like. What It Is, How It Works )

Expletive Deleted. Figuring out how to fill in the blanks shouldn't be that hard, and I'd feel bad spelling it out. I will spell out how to get from there to the final answer: How to Get from There to the Final Answer )

The Cats Meow. How It Works, Why It's Fun Even if You Don't Want to Solve It )

Part of Speech. How It Works )

Painted Potsherds. How It Works )

Inventory Quest. How It Works )

Laureate. No need for spoiler tags, this one is straight up with its instructions. This is a cryptic crossword, so if you're not familiar with those conventions, it's going to be very difficult. Specifically, this is a cryptic in the style of the Listener Cryptic, so if you're an American cryptic solver unfamiliar with British conventions, this will still be very hard. But if you do happen to be familiar with solving very difficult cryptics in the British vein, this puzzle is lots of fun.

Hints, with a bit of love!. How )

A Representative Sampling. How It Works )

Plotlines. I think this is the puzzle that maximizes accessibility and awesomeness. Definitely look even if you click through immediately to the answers. How It Works )

Toto, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore. I can't really spoil this one, but I feel like the aha is fairly accesible to the right sorts of geek. If you don't see what's going on fairly quickly, click through to the answer. If you do, here's how to get a final answer ).

Unnatural Law. How It Works )

E Pluribus Unum. Okay, this one looks unfair, but it's actually fairly tractable, and can be a good way to start thinking laterally about puzzles like this. How It Works )

Unlikely Situations. Just look at the puzzle. If this puzzle is for you, you'll recognize it instantly and figure out what to do. If you don't it's probably not the puzzle for you. How It Works ) Even if you don't want to solve the puzzle, you may want to click through to the answer to see a little bit more about the subject.



So those are my recommendations. There's a lot more stuff that I enjoyed, but it's all less accessible, and I'll probably need to talk about them more spoilerily to do them justice. These are just ones I think more people would get a kick out of.

If you think I've listed too many, then here are my top three fun, accessible puzzles: Toad's List, Inventory Quest, and Plotlines. Go do those.

Also, here are some puzzles that I didn't work on but are on my list to try. No descriptions because I haven't spent any time working on them.
tablesaw: "You are not special." (Slap!) "Not even in a bad way." (Slap!) (You Are Not Special)
2011-01-10 10:33 pm
Entry tags:

Quotes from the Arclight


Bill Pullman
. . . And I found that, every year, it just seemed to get a larger and larger following.
Interviewer
Well, that's something that happens with a lot of films—
Bill Pullman
NO! IT ONLY HAPPENS WITH SPACEBALLS!
tablesaw: Me, as a magic user, with long flowing hair, a sever beard, and focused eyes (Unknown Armies)
2011-01-08 10:14 pm

Now That's a Birthday!

After planning Christmas at the last minute and New Years at the last minute, and as I'm planning my Hunt trip at the last minute, it's no surprise that I'm also planning my birthday at the last minute. Which is why it is awesome that [livejournal.com profile] wjukknibs, who I'd planned to e-mail before bed, texted me to make plans to see Spaceballs at the Arclight on my birthday, with a guest appearance by Bill Pullman.

Rock.