(no subject)

Jan. 27th, 2015 01:17 pm
skygiants: Fakir and Duck, from Princess Tutu, with a big question mark over Duck's head (communication difficulty)
[personal profile] skygiants
My favorite thing about Joan Aiken is how you can never tell whether she is writing a parody, or if this is how she genuinely thinks her chosen genre ought to go. Beware of the Bouquet is a typical Gothic much like The Whispering Mountain, which contains a secret tribe of lost camels under the mountain and tragically ill attack snakes who need to receive immediate medical attention, is a typical numinous Welsh fantasy.

The heroine, Martha, works for an advertising company which has had the bad fortune to pick up some unpleasant new clients who want them to promote their fabulous new perfume. Martha has the brilliant idea to get all Arthurian on it and take them to a tiny British castle on the coast to do the shoot.

MARTHA'S LOVE INTEREST: So, why that castle, Martha?
MARTHA: Well, ten years ago, I was briefly and tragically married to a devastatingly attractive young man who then became obsessed with the monks who live near that castle, developed a major personality disorder, and mysteriously disappeared, so I figured I might see if he happened to be there and drop in to say hi. You know, closure.
MARTHA'S LOVE INTEREST: ...
MARTHA: Also if we're on the beach we can also take the opportunity to do some shoots for our other project, the one with the cans of miracle self-heating explosive soup!

So everyone, including Martha, her love interest, her coworker who is angry Russian nobility (not that this is relevant to the plot in any way), and the mysteriously beautiful Italian wife of the unpleasant perfumer all head out to an isolated castle. Shortly afterwards, Martha is driving back to set one night when her car breaks down and she accidentally stumbles over some sinister persons kidnapping the world's prettiest baby! At which point she takes the sensible step of scooping up the baby and running.

MARTHA: Great, now I gotta be responsible for this baby! I hate babies!
THE WORLD'S PRETTIEST BABY: *smiles*
MARTHA: ...except this baby. This baby is the BEST baby. *___* I will call her Shrubsole.
(SHRUBSOLE: ...why.)

Martha temporarily drops the world's prettiest baby off with the local sinister monks, who a.) happen to have a baby collection and b.) also happen to include her ex-husband --

MARTHA'S EX: Yo.
MARTHA: Yo.
MARTHA'S EX: ...so this is awkward.
MARTHA: Yeah. Uh, so you help take care of the baby collection, then?
MARTHA'S EX: Oh god, no, I hate babies! They're the worst! things! in the world! NOOOOOO *runs away*
MARTHA: ...so that was weird.

-- and in short order figures out that the baby belongs to the beautiful and mysterious Italian wife! who is being menaced by her husband and his friends! because of PERFUME-RELATED SECRETS!

THE BEAUTIFUL AND MYSTERIOUS ITALIAN WIFE: But, I mean, you're cool helping the monks take care of the baby for a while, right? I have to keep her safe from my evil husband and also it is very important that I go out partying with this visiting Sultan who has turned up in this tiny British town.
(VISITING SULTAN: Heyo!)
MARTHA: This would not be OK if it was not for the fact that your baby is the WORLD'S BEST BABY, omg. *__*

Then there's some more life-threatening incidents, including a BOX OF POISONOUS SPIDERS, and Martha decides it is time to take the baby back to London to stay with her love interest's sister.

THE MONKS: You can't take the world's best baby away from us though! ;__;
MARTHA: Look, I really have got to take the baby. You've still got a whole collection of other babies!
THE MONKS: ... ok, it's fine, here's a baby. TAKE THIS BABY. DON'T LOOK AT THE BABY'S FACE.
MARTHA: ...Why...
THE MONKS: No .... reason ....

It takes Martha like four hours and a kidnapping to figure out the baby swap, for the record. FOUR HOURS.

Everything escalates rapidly from there, with all the dramatic chase scenes, exploding soup cans and surprise elopements with visiting Sultans that one might expect from a standard Gothic novel, but my favorite part is how all of the dramatic motivations for the bizarre actions of the cast members are just, like, "Martha's ex just really doesn't like kids, OK?" and "the sinister monks really DO just think that Shrubsole is the world's prettiest baby!" Sure, makes sense. Seems legit.

(no subject)

Jan. 25th, 2015 06:50 pm
skygiants: Natsu from 7 Seeds, looking determined, surrounded by fireflies (survive in this world)
[personal profile] skygiants
So last weekend I zoomed through The Maker's Mask and The Hawkwood War, by Ankaret Wells. It's a fairly frenetic and pretty addictive self-published duology -- one of those that's set in the far future on a cut-off colony planet that's mythologized their leftover bits of science into a sort of magic, so half the fun is trying to reverse-engineer the worldbuilding from what you see into where it might have come from.

The other half the fun is all the complex family politics. The protagonist, Tzenni, is the engineering-focused middle daughter of the Boccamera family; her headstrong tomboy younger sister has been captured by the HORRIBLE KAPELLANS who have been feuding with them for GENERATIONS, and since their older sister and family head is off having a diplomatic baby, Tzenni decides it's her responsibility to rescue the other one.

Then of course, after some initial diplomatic awkwardness when she gets there, it turns out her enemies haven't got any idea where her sister is either.

THE KAPELLANS: Yes, things started to get weird right around when your sister saved the life of our oldest son --
TZENNI: ...that does seem unlike her...
THE KAPELLANS: And then she seems to have disappeared, along with our son, who was about to enter into an arranged marriage that he didn't want --
TZENNI: .......oh. Oh dear. @__@

It took me (and possibly also Tzenni) a few chapters to realize that the sons being referred to in this conversation were two different sons, enmeshed in AT LEAST two different complicated and potentially murderous marriage plots. The Kapellans have a lot of sons. This is also a world in which marriage generally consists of at least three participants, sometimes more, some of whom are often siblings or cousins -- I was never entirely clear on all the social rules surrounding this -- but it does make for some extremely cool and complicated family dynamics!

This is also a world in which there are a number of androgynous intersex people called epicons running around, one of whom is a fashionable, witty, swashbuckling person with a tragic backstory named Innes Liang who rescues Tzenni in the first chapter and goes on to become her bodyguard.

...I did not expect to feel such seething resentment when it turned out that Innes Liang was not Tzenni's love interest, but I did, and I am sad to say that despite my enjoyment of the books that resentment has not entirely dissipated. I mean, her actual love interest is perfectly fine! (Although I am kind of not into the twenty-year age difference.) And in the normal way of things I would be all about Innes and Tzenni's emphatically platonic friendship, but I did not realize how excited I had gotten for the potential of a non-heterosexual romance until it became clear I was not going to get it -- and Innes Liang is otherwise such a heroic-romantic archetype that it's hard for me not to feel a little bit like they were disqualified for romance by being Not Enough Dude.

(I'm using a 'they' pronoun, but for the record, the books shifts between 'he,' 'she', and 'it' for the epicons, which is a strategy I'm not really sure about. Also for the record, the other major epicon character in the book is one of the primary villains, an abusive rapist who figures prominently in Innes' tragic backstory and might as well have waltzed out of one of those Mercedes Lackey novels where all the villains are sadistic rapists who take great pains to look like cat-people. Innes Liang is awesome enough as a character that I can just about look past this, but only just, and I really don't love that both prominent epicons in the book are linked by sexual violence.)

That aside, though, I do love Innes, and I love Tzenni, who is not at all a warrior sort of person and prone to getting distracted in the middle of important scenes by wondering about the engineering of the toilet; and I love Tzenni's exasperated relationship with her younger sister, who is much more the kind of YA protagonist who runs around falling in love with unsuitable people and punching everyone else in the face, and how they don't understand each other at all, and fight over everything in the way only people who've known each other since toddlers can, and are deeply loyal to each other all the same. And I like most of the politics, frenetic and Byzantine as they are, although I think the plotlines and characters could probably have been pared down by about 25%. But it's a very rich world, and a lot of fun!

...but I'm still kind of bitter about the gender-destabilizing romance that I feel I deserved and I did not get. >:(

(no subject)

Jan. 25th, 2015 01:53 pm
meganbmoore: (Default)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 due to family things, (most of which I've talked about on twitter, but don't feel up to repeating-it's unlocked if you want to scroll back, meganbm123) I will most likely not be on much this week, outside of twitter and maybe IMs.  If anyone needs to get ahold of me/thinks I should see something outside of those medium, email me or send me a PM.

icons: Foyle's War

Jan. 23rd, 2015 01:10 pm
meganbmoore: (south riding: red)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 136 x Foyle's War

foyle-s4-14 foyle s3 9 foyle-s2 18

here ) .

(no subject)

Jan. 23rd, 2015 08:11 am
skygiants: Wendy from the Middleman making faces at Ida (neener neener)
[personal profile] skygiants
Five Little Peppers And How They Grew is probably the work of Improving Edwardian Literature that I remember best from my childhood (after Little Women, or maybe tied with Little Women, if that counts as Improving Edwardian Literature.) It's a classic rags-to-riches story -- five plucky poor children work hard and virtuously support their mother and have grand times because they're all so cheery and virtuous despite the fact that they appear to be constantly on the verge of starving to death. But then they make friends accidentally with a nice young rich boy, and charm his cranky but SUPER rich father, and then the cranky rich father basically adopts the entire family including the mother and they all settle down into happy and implausible prosperity. It's like Annie times six!

(I feel it's important to note that the cranky rich father doesn't marry the mother or anything, he just decides to let them all stay in his house forever. IT'S A BIG HOUSE. IT'S FINE.)

There are also like twelve sequels, which I vaguely knew when I was a kid but never read. Recently I was struck with enormous curiosity about them, because, like, OK, what does happen to an impoverished country family after they've been implausibly adopted into the upper crust? So I read Five Little Peppers Midway and Five Little Peppers Grown Up.

These books are such a strange mixture of high drama over really minor things and high drama over things that are SUPER SOAP OPERA. Like, it's high drama all the time, and it's the exact same emotional tone whether it's The Littlest Pepper accidentally getting locked in a closet for a few hours ("OH MY GOD, SHE MIGHT HAVE DIED!!!!") or The Most Mischievous Pepper not wanting to do his schoolwork ("OH MY GOD, HE'S DISAPPOINTING MAMSIE!!!!") or, you know, everyone almost dying in a train crash that takes the lives of several other passengers.

Aside from having high drama, the Peppers' other favorite things to do are to reminisce about their happy days in their poverty-stricken hovel ("isn't it great there aren't any other poor families in the village who need it right now so we can go and hang out there whenever we want!") and passive-aggressively guilt each other into behaving the way virtuous Edwardian children should -- Polly Pepper, the Oldest and Prettiest and Most Virtuous, is a huge fan of the silent treatment. If anyone dares to speak up about having feelings of unhappiness, like the Most Mischievous Pepper having a horrible time at school because, you know, he grew up in a poverty-stricken hovel and barely learned to read, they get gravely disappointed and silent treatmented at until they hastily backtrack and pretend they never had those feelings at all. Emotional health for everyone!

It's also really weird because, like, five years go by between the first book and the second and all of the kids sound exactly the same. Including the Littlest Pepper, who is now eight, but still crawling into everyone's lap and being adorably charming exactly the same way she did when she was three.

The actual main plot of Five Little Peppers Midway, such as it is, centers around a mean aunt of the cranky rich father's who comes to stay in the house and disapproves MIGHTILY of the fact that he's adopted a whole bevy of plucky poor people. She tries in vain to get other people to agree with her that this is kind of weird, but everyone else in the upper-crust society is just like "Oh, but the Peppers are so charming! I too wish I could adopt them!" because this is a strange alternate universe in which adopting the virtuous poor is totally normal.

Apparently taking this to heart, the Evil Aunt decides to get her revenge by trying to turn the Littlest Pepper into her own personal companion, which is what ends with the Littlest Pepper getting locked in a closet for a few hours and ALMOST DYING!!!!, and then there's a kind of amazing climactic scene where the Evil Aunt turns out to be a crack shot with a pistol and saves the house from burglars, and then she dies and leaves the Littlest Pepper all her money out of guilt for accidentally getting her locked in a closet that one time. So that's all right. And then the Littlest Pepper decides to donate all her dolls to poor people --

-- oh, yeah, that's something else, by the way. Now that the Peppers aren't poor anymore, they super get their kicks out of being really conspicuously and condescendingly charitable? Like, the scene with the dolls involves Daddy Warbucks bringing a small horde of poor children around the back and having them all explain loudly to the Littlest Pepper that they've NEVER had a doll so she can feel much better about herself for giving all her dolls away, and it's kind of gross.

Then after the Littlest Pepper inherits all that money, in Five Little Peppers Grown Up she decides to set up an orphanage for poor kids and it's even grosser -- like, it's Christmas, and all the Peppers swoop in with their rich friends and dispense largesse and make these poor kids listen to a long lecture on how they wouldn't have ANYTHING, NONE OF THIS, NOTHING, if it wasn't for the generosity of the Evil Aunt. What a way to spend Christmas! (And the one black kid at the orphanage cries and clings to the Littlest Pepper and everyone else is weirded out and tries to detach her, because these books are also quite racist.)

But that's not the main plot of Five Little Peppers Grown Up, the main plot is about how everyone wants a piece of Polly Pepper and people are proposing to her left and right -- usually by first going to the nice young rich boy who adopted them in book one and being like "well, YOU'RE practically her brother, YOU ask her if she'll marry me!" Which is awkward every time, given that a.) Polly has four actual brothers and b.) he is clearly the series designated love interest. Eventually, at last, he too proposes. When she's in a room with her mom. While holding her hand, and also her mother's. This would not be my idea of romance, but then I'm not a member of the most virtuous no-longer-poor family in the whole world.

Anyway, now I know What Happened To The Peppers and my curiosity is satisfied. I think I'm OK leaving the other nine sequels, though.

manga/anime: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Jan. 21st, 2015 08:39 pm
meganbmoore: (7 seeds: matsuri/ryo)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
When I saw Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun on the list of upcoming anime around the middle of last year, I wasn't sure whether to expect something awful, or something wonderfully hilarious. Sakura Chiyo has a crush on her classmate, Nozaki. When she confesses her crush, she words it as being his fan, so he gives her a signature for another name altogether. Later, he asks her back to his apartment and has her work on backgrounds for manga pages. When she gets home, she realizes that the signature he gave her is that of a popular mangaka, and she soon becomes one of his many assistants, while still trying to figure out how to get across that she has a crush on him. (Her second attempt at confessing goes about the same as the first.)

The series COULD be about Sakura endlessly pining over a guy who doesn't notice her, and there is some of that (at one point, Nozaki asks Sakura to describe the guy she likes and she does, explaining that he seems to find her useful and convenient more than anything else. The clueless Nozaki is EXTREMELY unimpressed with her description, and clearly thinks she could do much better) but it's mostly about making a manga and what Nozaki gets his inspirations from, the peskiness of having reality intrude when it comes to manga tropes (darn bicycle laws ruined such important ones...), and Sakura befriending Nozaki's other assistants, who become many of the characters in Nozaki's manga.

The rest of the cast are:

Mikoto Mikoshiba, nicknamed Mikorin, who is another of Nozaki's assistants. Mikorin used to be very, very shy around girls, so he decided to get over it by playing far, far too many dating sims. Now, he makes dramatic, flowery comments and then almost literally dies of embarrassment, and so has even worse problems when it comes to communicating with girls, even though he can technically talk to them now. When he isn't doing this, he's putting on his very best Tsundere face. Mikorin ships Sakura/Nozaki. A lot. Possibly more than Sakura, and he is very invested in finding out whether or not Nozaki reciprocates her feelings, but has been thwarted so far. Mikorin is also the inspiration for most of Nozaki's heroines, which gets rather interesting at times, given the inspiration for some of his other characters. Sakura is one of only two girls he can mostly communicate with normally, and the one he goes to for help when his antics get him trapped in various embarrassing-to-him situations.

Kashima Yu is the other girl Mikorin can talk to. Kashima is a tall, androgynous young woman with a shoujo "prince" personality. Kashima and Mikorin are BFF4evah and considered themselves rivals during their first year of high school, even though Kashima was clearly far superior in all things academic. She's also rather dense when it comes to anything not academic. She's a member of the drama club and is always cast and the male lead, much to the delight of all the drama club's female fans. She's also head over heals in love with Hori, the president of the drama club, though she has yet to identify her feelings as romantic at all. She has no idea about Nozaki's secret identity, or that some of her friends are his assistants, which leads to some...interesting incidents.
 
Hori Masayuki is the president of the drama club, and another of Nozaki's assistants. In exchange for his manga work, he has Nozaki writes plays for him. The plays always have Kashima in mind as the main protagonist, who is always a prince character. Kashima is entirely unaware that Hori has plays written JUST FOR HER (and he wants to keep it that way forever). Hori used to want to be an actor, but stopped trying out for roles because he's too short to get the roles he wants. He generally seems to prefer being behind the scenes, though. He is frequently EXTREMELY put out over Kashima's antics (which tend to include things like distracting all the girls who are supposed to be working on props with her princely charm, or thinking he wants to be treated like a princess when she finds Nozaki's manga in his schoolbag) but probably returns her interest.

Wakamatsu Hirotaka, nicknamed "Waka", is a first year student, and the last of Nozaki's assistants. He is very sweet and naive and constantly tormented by that antics of Seo, a rude and brash upperclassman who he (obliviously) has a crush on and loses sleep over. He can only sleep to the music of "Lorelei," a member of the Glee club. Waka has never met Lorelei, but claims to be in love with her, and believes she is sweet and kind and calm and perfect.

Seo Yuzuki is one of Sakura's best friends, and the bane of both Nozaki and Waka's lives. She's rude and brash and oblivious to social clues, and is frequently asked to help out various clubs. Unknown to Seo, she isn't asked to help out because of her talents (which she does have), but so that the players can learn how to deal with selfish and unreasonable players. She is also Lorelei of the Glee club, and finds Waka's tendency to compare her to the Lorelei in his head hilarious, Unlike Waka, she's at least somewhat aware that they're interested in each other, and gets extreme pleasure from toying with him. Nozaki adds a genderswapped version of Seo and Waka to his manga, and is OUTRAGED when his readers start wanting him to have them get together, because he very, very strongly anti-ships his characters' prototypes.
 
There's also Miyako, Nozaki's upstairs neighbor who is a college student and a more popular mangaka than Nozaki. They and Sakura sometimes meeting in cafes and have conversations that confuse Miyako's eavesdropping classmates, who think Miyako is dating Nozaki, who is dumping her for Sakura, and they're all cheerful about it. Miyako's editor is Maeno, a narcissist who is obsessed with himself, tanuki (which he forces Miyako to include in her manga as much as possible) and his personal blog. Maeno used to be Nozaki's editor, but Nozaki is now under a new editor named Ken. Nozaki thinks Ken is an amazing and cool adult and tends to fanboy him. Ken thinks Nozaki is dense, utterly oblivious about the subject matter that he chooses for his manga, and somewhat annoying. He also appears to think Nozaki's manga is terrible despite his popularity. Ken is right on pretty much all accounts.
 
I've watched all the anime and read the first 5 volumes of the manga, and love it. It's very much an "it is what it is" series, but it does what it does well. Between the anime and the manga, I prefer the anime, but that's more because pure comedy and antics works better for me in anime form than in manga form, as opposed to one being better than the other.
meganbmoore: (arang: boat)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 An almost-literally last minute brainstorming post for East and West Asian media fandom panels for WisCon.  

I actually have nothing right now, but I hope you do.

*sends out brainstorming vibes*

Dreamwidth News: 18 January 2015

Jan. 18th, 2015 10:00 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_news
Hello, Dreamwidth! Greetings from glorious Auckland, NZ, where we've been for this year's linux.conf.au. (It was a great conference! But then, it always is.) We decided to sneak in a code push while we were here, since we were in the same place and code pushes are always more fun when you can yell across the room when something breaks.

Behind the cut:

* Development
* Responsive-design conversion
* Reading page: custom colors for accounts going away
* Quicker Reply: reply from your reading page
* Warnings when you don't keyword an icon
* The country list
* SSL Everywhere


Dreamwidth News, 18 Jan 2015 )
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We've finished pushing the new code and will be working on fixing immediately obvious bugs now!

We're looking into problems with the new Create/Edit entries page not working properly on Chrome.

(no subject)

Jan. 18th, 2015 08:21 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We are (inevitably) running a little bit late -- the code push will begin in about half an hour or so. We'll update this entry when we're beginning.

This code push contains some rewrites/conversions of various pages on the site, so things will look a little different than what you're used to. The most obvious change will probably be to the Create Entry page -- it's not a redesign, and things will continue to behave the exact same way they have been, they'll just look a little bit different. Do not adjust the horizontal, do not adjust the vertical.

EDIT: Sorry, [staff profile] mark got started before I could update! We are in the middle of pushing now.

Once Upon A Time in Wonderland

Jan. 16th, 2015 10:07 pm
meganbmoore: (curiouser and curiouser)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
I haven't watched Once Upon A Time since about 2/3 through season 2. I do intend to eventually get back to it, I just haven't yet. Mostly because everything was starting to resolve around Rumpelstiltskin and his male progeny, and not only was that antithetical to everything that drew me to the show, but my eyes still glaze over with boredom when I see "Rumpelstiltskin." Unless they glaze over with annoyance. (I know most people didn't care for her but I found Cora a MUCH more interesting villain with better ties to the aspects of the show that I liked, as well as a MUCH more effective master manipulator. I mean, she was still a horrible person who needed to be stopped, I'm just saying that if they'd put her in Rumpelstiltskin's role, that season 2 plotline would have had the opposite impact on me.)

But I'm digressing. OUaTiW is a spinoff that was conceived as a miniseries with the potential to become an ongoing series. It's set in the version of Wonderland established in OUaT, but operates mostly independent of OUaT. Pretty much, as long as you know how things work when sorcerers take your heart in-universe and about the basic setup of the parent show in regards to Storybrooke and the curse.

OUaTiW is about Alice of Alice in Wonderland roughly 12-15 years after her initial adventures in Wonderland. When her father didn't believe her stories about Wonderland, Alice kept running away to return to Wonderland over and over again, eventually disappearing for a number of years before returning, claiming to have fallen in love with a genie who was then murdered by the Red Queen. A year or so later, Alice has been institutionalized, and is trying to convince her doctors that she doesn't believe in Wonderland and was making it up when the White Rabbit and Knave of Hearts find her and tell her that Cyrus is actually alive, but being held prisoner.

The first 3/4 of the show are fueled by this plot, with Cyrus as the Damsel in Distress who keeps trying to save himself, but fails miserably at it, and Alice as the action hero off to save her Damsel, and Will (the Knave of Hearts) as her roguish sidekick. Now, I'm as prone to partnershipping as anyone else, but lets all pause and sidetrack for a moment to appreciate the fact that Alice and Will are conventionally attractive, sexuality compatible friends who are close and who spend a lot of time travelling and adventuring alone, both during and before the series, with never a hint of romantic or sexual attraction or "will they, won't they" between them. The last chunk of the series is all the various parties coming together to deal with the main villain, Jafar.

Jafar is...urm...well, if you're expecting race!fail, you'll get it, though admittedly not as much as I was expecting.  (This isn't actually saying much.) Naveen Andrews does his best with what he's given, and unlike Rumpelstiltskin, I actually do find parts of his backstory to be sympathetic, though they don't do anything to make him any less awful in the present. This, I think, is where so much modern fiction gets lost in its portrayal of sympathetic villains. Sure, give them tragic backstories and layers, even like them more than the protagonists if you want, but don't act like their pain is more important than the pain they cause others, and both canons and fandoms typically leap over that line as quickly as they can. The downside is that they can apparently only keep from crossing that line if the character is a sinister Middle Eastern man. There is another character whose actions I feel get somewhat swept away because of a change of heart, but given what there was of that redemption plot, I'm willing to assume that a longer redemption arc that addressed the character's greater wrongs, but that it got truncated. A downside to Jafar is that, between he and Alice, there's a major narrative trend of paternal acceptance being a chief motivator, and narrative character drive that I've been over for years. Mothers are also present, but are treated as far less important than fathers.

A lot of the problems I had with OUaT stem, I think, from the fact that it's a miniseries concept executed as an ongoing series. OUaTiW, I think, fares better because it's a miniseries concept that is executed as a miniseries with the possibility of becoming an ongoing series. As I referenced before, I think some character arcs and relationships reveals and developments got shorted because they were hoping for the series to be longer, but the good outweighs the bad for me. There are some serious oddities. The series takes place in both the present and the Victorian age, which can be explained by Wonderland existing in another dimension, but some human characters in Wonderland who aren't from Wonderland are the same age in the present as they were when they were they came to Wonderland some time before Alice first did. The show also maintains more of the sheer nonsense of Wonderland (including Alice sometimes slipping from more conventional, adult forms of speech to the more nonsensical speech she sometimes had as a child in the books.

I liked it enough to look into OUaT fandom a bit more than I have in a long time, and it sounds like it may have turned back to the things I cared about, and have less of the ones I didn't, so maybe I'll get back to it soon. (The flipside is that it looks like certain character stans are worse than ever.)

Code push on Saturday/Sunday

Jan. 16th, 2015 06:28 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We will be doing a code push this weekend! [staff profile] mark, [staff profile] fu, and I are in New Zealand for Linux Conf AU, so the code push is planned for Sunday, 18 January, at 8PM New Zealand time (GMT +13). (See this in your time zone.) This is Sunday 2AM EST/7AM GMT/Saturday 11PM PDT.

We'll update you again right before we're ready to get started.

(no subject)

Jan. 14th, 2015 07:32 pm
skygiants: Wendy from the Middleman making faces at Ida (neener neener)
[personal profile] skygiants
I've been massively annoying everyone around me since about the New Year by going on about how much I like Julie Czerneda's Species Imperative trilogy.

I read the first book, Survival, a while back and gushed extensively about it. To recap: the protagonist of the trilogy is salmon researcher Mac(kenzie Winifred Elizabeth Wright) Connor, who is not particularly interested in the fact that in this future the human race is a minor part of a vast intersteller alliance composed of hundreds of different species linked by wormholes, because, look, guys, Earth biology is just so INTERESTING, there's so MUCH, who could ask for anything more?!

The plot, which is deeply concerned with xenobiology, disagrees.

Mac eventually finds herself at the center of ongoing research into a threat to basically every species in the universe. This does involve quite a few dramatic scenes of interstellar peril but also quite a lot of going to conferences and planning meetings and organizing crack teams of biologists and/or archaeologists and/or grad students.

An incomplete list of things I really love about this trilogy includes:

- the fact that the heroine is a middle-aged female scientist!
- the wide array of really interesting and distinct alien characters, none of whom are just green humans, and all of whom have specific cultures (though generally monocultures -- Julie Czerneda is a biologist, not a sociologist, and it shows)
- the fact that so much of the plot is driven by people DOING RESEARCH and ASKING QUESTIONS instead of running around and shooting things
- how cultural differences and misunderstandings are real and ever-present, and how much people get into trouble by making assumptions based on their own knowledge of the world
- the fact that Mac acquires a serious brain disorder that affects her ability to read text in the first book, and it's not A TRAGEDY but it has real consequences, and Mac has to learn to adapt her life around it, and it doesn't get magically fixed in the end
- also she loses a limb, and ... since it's the future and there are magic prostheses this actually doesn't have all THAT many consequences, but it's also not something that Czerneda forgets about
- (and how, not to be outdone, another character loses TWO limbs)
- Mac's feelings about her best science friend, Dr. Emily Mamani, and how they are the driving force of the series; Emily has dark secrets and they spend much of the story tragically separated but no matter what happens, Mac refuses to believe that their science love is not true! This may be the only series I've ever read where the main emotional drama centers around STAR-CROSSED RESEARCH PARTNERS.
- CHARLES MUDGE III, my favorite character of 2015 thus far, the fussy bureaucrat who oversees the protected wilderness site where Mac works. He appears in one scene in the first book to crankily approve Mac's grant proposals. In the second book, his APPALLED INDIGNATION over the TOTAL MESS that first book shenanigans left in A PROTECTED WILDERNESS SITE, GOD, PEOPLE, COME ON somehow launches him into the role of a second lead??? Charles Mudge III is my hero
- bureaucrats who organize meetings and make sure everyone's travel budgets are taken care of are heroes? BUREAUCRATS ARE HEROES
- Anchen, the world's sweetest alien hivemind
- the fact that the love interest (who is fine! he's a spy, it's moderately interesting I guess) is only onscreen for about fifty pages per book, so we can spend more time on Mac's relationships with her BEST ALIEN FRIENDS BRYMN AND ANCHEN and BEST SCIENCE FRIEND EMILY and WORST BUREAUCRAT FRIEND CHARLES MUDGE
- actually let's just give a whole bullet point to Mac's network of really significant platonic friendships, all of which have as much weight or more as her romance
- plus that one hilariously awkward grad student who thinks he is in a noona romance with Mac. (He is not.) He is completely irrelevant to the plot, seriously, I have no idea why his crush on Mac is even there, IT'S SO RANDOM
- actually let's have a bullet point also for all the rest of the flaily grad students
- and for the fact that Julie Czerneda is clearly having way too much fun describing the chaos of a field research facility full of obsessive biologists in loving detail
- the alien secret service agents straight out of Men in Black who read an advisory pamphlet on weird human ideas about aliens before they came and think it's HILARIOUS to try and prank unsuspecting humans by playing up every single one
- the various jerks that Mac dislikes who nonetheless prove to be useful and capable human beings, because you can find someone annoying but still respect their work
- the aliens who reproduce by LEAVING AN AMNIOTIC SAC OF BABIES IN A TREE. When the babies emerge from the amniotic sac, they latch onto the nearest adult, who gets a loud, abrupt, and adorably squalling welcome to parenthood! Why is this not the fic trope sweeping the nation!
- ...there's a whole bunch of other cool biological stuff too but I'm just really charmed by the amniotic sac of surprise babies, OK

The books are far from perfect! The pacing is pretty weird and often very clumsy, as aforementioned the aliens are all interesting but really Star Trek-monocultural, and I am sorry, Julie Czerneda, but the drunken antics of the gloomy cider-addicted teddy-bear aliens are not as funny as you think they are. Also, Julie Czerneda believes in biological imperatives for sentient species a lot more than I do. But I'm so charmed by everything else that I don't even care, guys, I really love these books.

various TV stuffs

Jan. 14th, 2015 07:30 pm
meganbmoore: (covert affairs: gimme tv)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
1. The new anime season is...not dire, but nothing new jumps out at me? There are a couple series I'll check out later as long as friends keep liking them, but it looks like I'm mostly just sticking with Akatsuki no Yona and Shirobako, both of which are carryovers from last season, and then the new season of Kamisama Kiss (which has been very good so far).
 
2. I have watched all the available episodes of BBC's The Musketeers. When I first read the book as a kid, I was convinced that having sex with/being in love with D'Artagnan meant women died. Not convinced I was wrong about that, but I never have liked the book, though I watch most adaptations that I come across. I like the show? I have problems with some things in it, but when I compare it to the book and my problems with it (particularly the treatment of Milady and Constance) it pretty much comes out golden. I have very mixed feelings about not hating D'Artagnan and Athos, but I can deal with that. i'm also apparently very susceptible to the narrative wanting me to ship things. it goes "you should ship this" and I go "ok" without really thinking it out, and I think I'm ok with it, though I do keep getting distracted by the fact that D'Artagnan's head is almost literally twice the size of Constance's. (That "ok with it" bit might be reconsidered if they start wanting me to ship de Rochefort/Anne.)I also kind of miss the bit in the first season where Constance is the most long suffering woman in existence.
 
3. On the flipside, I haven't talked about it much here, but I've been watching Queen Seon Deok off and on since April. The first 51 episodes are great and largely consistently improve until the plotline that drove the series comes to it's natural conclusion. And then there's a timeskip, and a lot of characters get personality transplants that rob them of the bulk of their intelligence along the way, and the whole thing is like some horribly OOC fanfic that completely loses everything that gave its OTP any appeal in the first place. I actually put off watching the series for years because, even though a lot of fandom seemed to love the final arc, I could tell from the way they were talking about it that I wouldn't like it, and I was right. Anyway, great series and reaches a natural conclusion with episode 51. Skip the rest and avoid ending up like me, with the last 4 episodes waiting for you for weeks, but unable to force yourself to finish it.
 
4. Jane the Virgin and The 100 and Madam Secretary were renewed, and Gina Rodriguez rightly won the Golden Globe for Best Actress. Her acceptance speech and its implied criticism of Hollywood and its treatment of latin@s was great.
 
5. Other celebrities making boobs jokes, rape jokes, North Korea jokes and whatnot were not great.
 
6. Happyland was cancelled, which makes me very sad, even though I'm still a bit amazed that it ever got made in the first place.
 
7. State of Affairs really needs to be cancelled, because that's the only thing that will save me from watching it. I keep watching it. It's awful. I can't stop. Help.
 
8. Galavant and Empire started. Galavant is...I enjoying it, but there's also so much wrong with it, starting with "awareness that something isn't acceptable and assuming your audience knows it does NOT make doing it acceptable, thankyouverymuch" but the latest episode gives me hope that the second half will live up to my expectations. Empire is also good, but I'm watching it almost entirely for Taraji Henson, and with the assumption that the narrative realizes that the only natural conclusion is that her character wins, so I'm not really engaging with it yet in a way where I can formulate thoughts.
 
9. The 100 comes back next week. I should try to finally post on it? (I talk about it so much on other journals and on twitter that I just...keep not getting to it. It doesn't help that I have a bunch of other posts written that I keep forgetting to actually post.)
10. The Librarians has almost wrapped up its first season (For whatever reason, they're airing the last 4 episodes with 2 episode per Sunday night. I hope the reason doesn't have to do with cancelation.) which has been pretty good. The episodes aired out of order, and while that's made some character arcs inconsistent (but very consistent IN THE RIGHT ORDER) it hasn't affected the quality of the show that much overall. It's very much the Leverage people making a show for people who like things like Warehouse 13, but that's certainly not a bad thing.

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