(no subject)

Nov. 28th, 2015 12:04 am
skygiants: a figure in white and a figure in red stand in a courtyard in front of a looming cathedral (cour des miracles)
[personal profile] skygiants
I'm home in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving, and my dad suggested that we all go and see Equivocation at the Arden Theater. If you happen to be in the area: WORTH THE PRICE.

Equivocation posits a hypothetical in which Robert Cecil, Secretary of State to James I, commissions Shakespeare to write a "true history" play of the Gunpowder Plot.

SHAKESPEARE: I don't write propaganda stories.
CECIL: You wrote Richard III! You made Richard of York a hunchback!
SHAKESPEARE: He was a murderer!
CECIL: They're all murderers! He balanced the budget.

In his attempt to turn the Crown's version of events into a coherent and semi-truthful play without getting executed for it --

SHAKESPEARE: A group of men plan to blow up Parliament, and then they don't. There's no plot!
CECIL: It is TREASON to say that there was no plot!
CECIL: .... ohhhh, you mean there's no plot!

-- Shakespeare goes hunting for the actual truth about what happened during the Gunpowder Plot, along the way confronting interpersonal conflicts among his actors, questions of morality and politics and posterity, and his own stoppered-up emotions about the death of his son Hamnet. Judith Shakespeare, Hamnet's cranky and neglected twin, who keeps track of the number of deaths in Shakespeare's plays and has VERY strong feelings about soliloquies (she hates them) plays a major role. She's the one woman in the production, but she has a lot to say; Shakespeare's relationship with her is either the heart of the story or very close to it.

Richard Burbage also plays a major role. He has a passionate scene in which he confesses that Shakespeare means more to him than anything in the world, and then he strides forward and clutches Shakespeare's face and the fact that they don't actually make out at that point surprised me more than just about anything else in the play. It could just be that Richard was probably the best actor in the cast; he doubled as an incredibly powerful Henry Garnet, a historical figure about whom I previously knew nothing, so it's really quite unfair that I'm now extremely sad about him. James I, who doubles as hotheaded young actor Richard Sharpe, is also much more interesting than he initially appears (although his Scottish accent stays sadly terrible throughout the whole thing.) The cast of Shakespeare's company is rounded out by Nathan Field, who doubles as Cecil and does all his interesting acting there, and Robert Armin, who doesn't really get to do anything interesting as far as I recall except a brief scene in which he doubles as Buckingham in order to bang King James.

The playwright is clearly very pleased with himself for the opportunity to play around with plays within plays -- Shakespeare goes through multiple (intermittently terrible and/or treasonous) drafts of the Gunpowder Plot play, many of them performed with/during/around his interviews with the participants -- and somehow manages to turn the line "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" delivered exactly as per Macbeth's script into one of the best brick jokes in the entire show.

It's not a perfect play; it's very clever and very pleased with its own metatextuality and it's probably got too much crammed into it, but this is one of those cases where the flaws probably make it more fun for me, specifically. (Except some unnecessary slanders on the name of Anne Hathaway. RUDE.) But it gives me lots of what I like best, which is lengthy explorations of why people write things the way they do, and also getting to watch people watching shows and reacting to them in interesting ways. Anyway, it's all HIGHLY enjoyable and I would absolutely recommend.

stop the presses

Nov. 27th, 2015 09:19 pm
inkstone: One Piece's Nami after the time skip (oranges & money)
[personal profile] inkstone
Two fics in one week? Unheard of!

It happened, though.

Close Quarters (1467 words) by inkstone
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: One Piece
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Monkey D. Luffy/Nami/Trafalgar Law
Characters: Monkey D. Luffy, Nami (One Piece), Trafalgar Law
Additional Tags: Cuddling & Snuggling, Canon-Typical Violence, Fluff

Summary: Law is done with the Strawhats. Except for when he's not.

(no subject)

Nov. 27th, 2015 05:14 pm
skygiants: Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist looking down at Marcoh (mercy of the fallen)
[personal profile] skygiants
I've been vaguely meaning to read more Ursula K. LeGuin for a while now; The Word For World Is Forest jumped to the top of my list by virtue of being available from my library as a downloadable Kindle eBook.

This is quite a depressing little book, isn't it? The plot is fairly simple:

- humans colonize a heavily wooded alien planet, including enslaving exploiting the local alien species in all the gross ways that one would expect
- to everyone's surprise, the initially-pacifist aliens eventually revolt
- the one anthropologist who has established friendly relations with the aliens is depressed
- suddenly, deus ex orders arrive from Earth dictating that everyone needs to calm the hell down and behave more ethically
- alas, gross humans continue to ruin the planned de-escalation and everything ends in bloodshed

Obviously, I find none of this implausible. It's kind of a misery to spend at least half the book trapped inside the head of the grossest human being of all -- again, I fully believe people like Davidson exist, but he's so! awful! I don't think I'll ever be rereading this one; life's too short to spend that much time in his head again.

(no subject)

Nov. 25th, 2015 04:35 pm
skygiants: Natsu from 7 Seeds, looking determined, surrounded by fireflies (survive in this world)
[personal profile] skygiants
Does anyone remember Invitation to the Game? I mean, at least someone does, because the reason I reread it is because I hit a good Yuletide fic from last year (Eden, for the curious).

Invitation to the Game is a middle-grade book set in a near-future in which the government assigns professions a la the Giver, except most people are actually assigned to become unemployed underclass, because robots. When protagonist Lisse graduates from high(?) school, she ends up unemployed and living in a giant warehouse with a bunch of her classmates, all of whom are deeply frustrated because they have various useful skills that they are completely unable to use in the current dystopian economy. (Lisse herself is an English major and therefore has no useful skills.)

In other words, for a book written in 1990, it does an astoundingly good job of tapping directly into the post-2008 night terrors of a generation of snake people, so ... well done, Monica Hughes!

Anyway, after they spend a while sitting around and being depressed, they are invited to participate in a mysterious virtual-reality-ish game where they wander around a mysterious landscape and effectively simulate such exciting escapist activities as walking through a desert, climbing random rock formations, not being able to find potable drinking water, etc. Since this is still more interesting than their actual lives, they all get hooked. In the big twist, spoilers! )

The protagonists of Invitation to the Game are pretty much flat as cardboard. (Annoying Privileged Rich -- oh, God, and I JUST got why he's named Rich, OKAY, MONICA HUGHES, FINE -- is really the only character who deserves the term, because at least hating everything and being cranky all the time provides something like a personality trait.) The book is compelling anyway, thanks to the world and setting -- and, I mean, who doesn't love a classic group-of-kids-band-together-and-survive-their-environment-against-the-odds story? It's like a very simplistic version of 7 Seeds.

(Though really you should just go read 7 Seeds.)

Jane the Virgin

Nov. 24th, 2015 10:24 pm
meganbmoore: (Default)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 Was this the midseason finale? It felt like one.

spoilers )

Into the Badlands

Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:06 pm
meganbmoore: (when princesses grow fangs)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 Into the Badlands really does have an excellent grasp of wuxia shipping tropes.  Sunny and Veil can feel free to not end up like their wuxia equivalents frequently do.

Two episodes in, and we have a grim dark dystopia with an unrelentingly oppressive and objectifying society, and not a single rape, sexual assault, or woman killed for shock value (2 women have died off screen and at least one in battle, but their deaths weren't gendered, and the male body count is astronomically higher.  Also no naked women yet.  I will keep harping on this until the show lets me down due to the endless cacophony of voices insisting that these things are absolutely necessary to truly portray an awful and violent society*.  The only thing that's truly bothered me about the treatment of women so far (aside from there not being enough of some of them) is a very brief scene where Ryder chokes a woman for information.  I don't think it was necessary, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as those scenes usually are.

The second episode focused on The Widow and her "daughter" Tilda (it isn't clear if Tilda is her biological or adopted daughter, or if all the assassins she trains call her Mother.  I think it's actually both).  The Widow appears to be a kinder baron then Quinn, but also ruthless, and is trying to start a war with Quinn to expend her territories.  One of the two extended fight scenes in this episode was The Widow taking down a dozen assassins with two knives and very sharp high heels.  Emily Beecham isn't the incredibly skilled martial artist that Daniel Wu is, but it was a great fight scene anyway.

*Not saying there's never ever a justifiable reason to include rape, just that 95% of the time (if I'm generous) it's because it's a form of victimization of women that's used as a lazy narrative shortcut.

I wrote something, yo

Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:54 pm
inkstone: Alex from the Gangsta voice card (Default)
[personal profile] inkstone
Rest Day (1524 words) by inkstone
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Beach Stars
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Hayakawa Sanae & Ono Reika
Characters: Hayakawa Sanae, Ono Reika
Additional Tags: Athletes, Friendship

Summary: Reika just wants to enjoy a day off from working out.

How are you all doing?

code push done!

Nov. 22nd, 2015 07:32 pm
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We're updating the site momentarily! Once the dust settles, please let us know if anything isn't working as expected. I'll edit the entry here if we confirm any issues.

Update, 21:45: All done!

Code push!

Nov. 22nd, 2015 01:03 pm
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We are planning to do a code push in about six hours, around 5pm Pacific time.

Most of the changes with this push are cleanup and small backend fixes, but we also have a new journal style called "Pattern" with 24 themes for you to choose from, and most excitingly, QuickReply has now been enabled for journal, day, and network views.

We'll update again to let you know when the code push is in progress!

icons: Chihayafuru

Nov. 19th, 2015 09:02 pm
meganbmoore: (chihayafuru)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 116 x Chihayafuru

here )

Into the Badlands (pilot)

Nov. 17th, 2015 07:42 pm
meganbmoore: (lotus lantern)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
Into the Badlands is a post-apocalyptic dystopian martial arts series that is a very loose adaptation of Journey to the West. Which probably tells you whether or not it's or you already.

IN THE FUTURE war and whatnot happens and there was chaos blah blah blah normal ONTO THE PLOT. (It actually does open with an Every Post apocalyptic Dystopia Ever voiceover that made my eyes roll even if it did set the tone. Just go with it.) After lots of war and fighting and death several barons took over, and and took the people in their various territories under their protection. Eventually, "protection" became servitude and eventually slavery, as the residents fell further and further into debt with their protectors. The Barons' enforcers are called Clippers, and as guns are outlawed, hand-to-hand combat, martial arts, and swords are back in style. (Not out of style: motorcycles, leather trenchcoats, sunshades, and southern accents.)

The main character, Sunny (played by Daniel Wu) is the head Clipper for one of the Barons, named Quinn. Quinn's estate is blatantly based on a southern plantation, though the social system seems to be based more on feudal domains than anything else, despite the aesthetic. The plantation aesthetic is, in the pilot at least, very much not on the nostalgic side, as a lot of the focus is on how Quinn sees himself as the benevolent baron but isn't benevolent at all, and that no one would be there if they thought they had a choice. After killing a gang of thieves, Sunny finds a boy named M.K. locked in a trunk. M.K. claims to be from the lands outside the Badlands, and that he and his mother came to the Badlands to find out information about a mysterious condition of M.K.'s (Note: Mother is missing, but not fridged at this point.) Sunny takes M.K back to Quinn's estate, where he's thrown in an arena with other young men to see who's cut out to be a Clipper. Meanwhile, Quinn's wife, Lydia, has apparently passed what Quinn considers to be her desirability date, and he's having her arrange his marriage to Jade, a young woman who was a worker on his lands. Lydia is concerned that Quinn intends to overlook their son as his heir and produce a new heir with Jade (Lydia, you are pretty impressive and would probably be so even if you weren't played by Orla Brady, but your son is a wimpy bully and a douche. IJS.) There's also Sunny's lover, Veil, a doctor on the estate, who seems to be encouraging Sunny to pack their bags and run, and is possibly the only truly decent person in the show, with the possible exception of M.K. Meanwhile, The Widow, called such because she murderered her husband, another Baron, and declared herself Baron in his place, is plotting things, and her plots involve M.K, though M.K. doesn't know what her interest in him is. Quinn objects to her calling herself a Baron, but Quinn is a misogynistic douche and slaveowner, so who cares about his opinion? (I can be more generous with Lydia because because her power and autonomy depend on his not tossing her to the side.)

While it's extremely unlikely that anyone is actually going to India for sacred texts, but it is very important that Sunny is played by a Chinese man (Daniel Wu) and that M.K's actor (Aramis Knight) is of both Indian and Pakistani descent. Daniel Wu is also a martial artist which means we get real actualfax fight scenes. The difference between fight scenes with a real martial artist and well choreographed fight scenes with amateurs is astounding, so it's nice to see the real thing on television. (I keep wanting to make a comparison to Basil Rathbone, a trained and talented fencer, always losing duels to actors who were clearly inferior fenders to him in all those swashbucklers. I mean, I like and own a lot of those swashbucklers. IJS.) The pilot as two extended fight scenes in which Sunny takes down groups of armed opponents with a lot of skill and little flash. The fight scenes are gorier than most television shows, but certainly not the goriest. I actually found the blood from the fight scenes less disturbing than the artfully displayed corpses in a lot of procedurals. I was more bothered by the bones breaking, which were accompanied by very loud snaps and twisted body parts.

The worldbuilding is a bit shaky at this point, relying more on striking visuals (And the shows is seriously stunning. AMC possibly literally poured money into it.) and atmosphere to establish the world than anything else. It does, however, do a very good job setting up a dark and depressing world, and conveying a sense of helplessness, despite the bright colors and open spaces. It also manages to create a dark and depressing world without having a single woman beaten, raped*, murdered onscreen, naked, or otherwise attacked. (So sad that that has to be pointed out.) Sunny does kill at least one woman in his first fight, I believe, but it's done as matter of factly as his dispatching of the men he's fighting, and the camera angles and focus doesn't change to linger over her death body like so many shows do.There’s also a scene at the beginning where Sunny finds a young girl who has been murdered, but again, there’s none of the prurient interest or lingering camera (on her, at least) that we usually get with dead women.  Violence involving women =/= violence against women, and I hope that's something the show actually does get, and this isn't a one off. I know from stills that there's at least one fight scene with The Widow coming up, and that she has a teenaged female assassin in her employ.

A perfect show? No. But it has a strong start, and a lot of potential.

*While Jade's consent in her marriage to Quinn would be considered questionable at best, we don't see enough of her to really have an idea of what's going on there beyond Quinn deciding he wants a pretty young woman as his new wife. I am watching for that plotline to go horribly wrong, but hoping it doesn't. I mean, they got Sarah Bolger for Jade, and I choose to believe that's because they have plans for her.

(no subject)

Nov. 15th, 2015 10:58 pm
skygiants: Lord Yon from Legend of the First King's Four Gods in full regalia; text, 'judging' (judging)
[personal profile] skygiants
I was enjoying Sergey and Marina Dyachenko's The Scar reasonably well, and then a thing happened and I stopped being able to take it seriously, which is probably all to the good because I kind of feel like the ending collapsed the whole point of the book out from under it. But it's fine, because I wasn't taking it seriously at that point anyway!

Most of The Scar -- an award-winning work of Russian fantasy in translation -- is very tightly focused on Egert Soll: an early modern dudebro extraordinaire whose hobbies include fighting and dueling and posturing and seducing other people's wives and generally committing extravagantly stupid feats of physical courage. Whether these extravagantly stupid feats of physical courage conclude with other people injured or dead is highly irrelevant to Egert. Basically, if you've ever read The Three Musketeers and thought to yourself, "wow, these people are all assholes of the highest degree!" then Egert Soll will seem very familiar.

Anyway, in like the second chapter Egert basically murders a hapless student in a duel incurred because Egert was attempting to seduce the student's fiancee Toria and wouldn't take no for an answer. Exit Toria, grieving and furious; enter a mysterious old man, who decides that Egert needs to be taught a lesson about toxic masculinity, and curses him to be OVERWHELMINGLY TERRIFIED OF EVERYTHING.

Most of the rest of the book is a slow psychological examination of how Egert, Most Valiant Dudebro In Town, deals with his sudden transformation into World's Most Helpless Physical Coward (spoiler: not well). Eventually, in his quest to get the curse reversed, Egert ends up in the same university town as the student he killed, and starts living a sort of weird shadow-double version of his life under the furious eyes of Toria.

As a deconstruction of the swashbuckling action-hero archetype, this is interesting! I generally agree with the project!

The part where I stopped taking the book seriously )

So then I hit the ending )


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