(no subject)

Apr. 18th, 2019 11:32 pm[personal profile] sholio
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
I have the sort of completely bonkers writing question that is incredibly hard to google for: would cell towers in 2001 or 2002 work with a modern smartphone? Assuming you went back in time to 2002. Which is what has happened to this character in the thing I'm writing. That is, would your modern smartphone have bars and be able to place calls, or would it just act like there were no cell towers around?

Or would it depend on whether your service provider was compatible with the local companies providing towers?

Or is that a total "WTF, just make something up" kind of question?

Ideally, I would prefer it to not work, but this character is in New York City, so if it's going to work at all, it would probably work here.

Is there a TV Trope for this?

Apr. 18th, 2019 06:26 pm[personal profile] sholio
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Why is it so common for so many series (TV shows, books, movies) to have a strong opening installment and then put their most dismal one as the second one? Whether it's merely bland and boring, or actively offputting in some specific way, I can think of so many that do this.

I expect some of it is narrative drop from the usually higher-budget and more action-filled opening installment, and some of it is the writers wanting to try something a little more daring after a crowd-pleasing opener. BUT STILL. Maybe you might want to wait a little while before dropping the book in which everyone dies gruesomely of yellow fever (Ben January) or the episode in which your only female character is sold into sex slavery (SG-1) or the episode that is every 80s mental hospital cliche ever (Iron Fist) or just the most comparatively generic and boring episode in the entire season (White Collar and so many others).

(This post brought to you by me getting so bored with the second episode of the show I'm watching as background-arting-TV on Hulu that I went and found an episode guide and skipped ahead to the next one that looked interesting. So far it's a lot better.)
rachelmanija: (Default)
This is for something I'm writing. The character uses a manual wheelchair. She's visiting an office and is impressed by how accessible it is, unlike pretty much the entire rest of the world. What features can it have that she'd notice?

It's a New York security agency which she's visiting as a client, but she can also notice ways in which it's accessible for anyone who works there as well. None of the current employees are physically disabled, so she'd be seeing the potential rather than noticing someone else navigating it in a wheelchair.

Bah

Apr. 18th, 2019 03:21 pm[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I think today will be the elderly dog next door's final day. Poor Dakota is very, very old for a dog and time has caught up with her.
rachelmanija: (Dollhouse)
Being on crutches, in an apartment up a flight of stairs, has certainly made decluttering more challenging. I cannot take anything to trash/recycling, but have to get someone else to do it for me (and I live alone). Also, it's a lot more difficult to carry things from room to room.

Nevertheless, I persisted!

KonMari has completely changed a lot of household chores for me, from things I hate and avoid to things I actively want to do as a combination of relaxation/meditative activity and geeky hobby. (I still hate washing dishes though). Sherwood and Layla, who have both seen my apartment in various stages, can attest to how much this has changed how it looks.

Here is a set of shelves in my kitchen which had not been decluttered in twelve years. There's a huge space in the back of them which is very hard to reach into. Consequently, when I stash anything there, it tends to drift toward the back, where I can then neither see nor reach it. Otherwise I only opened it to grab a tool from the tool box.



The other day, having hired someone to run some errands for me and also take out the trash, I parked myself on the floor and pulled everything out, a task which at times involved lying flat on my stomach and using a tool to sweep things toward me. I really wish I'd photographed the floor once everything was out, because it was a hair-raising mound of trash and weird junk. I found a half-drunk bottle of Kahlua which had probably been there for twelve years. I found paper towels so old that they shattered like glass. I found a bag of birdseed that was at least ten years old, dating back from when I thought birds would come if I put out food. (They wouldn't.)

I dumped the trash in trash bags and sorted the rest. Here is the end result:

oursin: The Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel (Delphic sibyl)

Apparently there was some hoohah lately about people's degrees not matching up with their A-level results?? and people doing better than their A-level grades might have suggested so it was grade inflation? (whether there was evidence of the converse, and people with smashing A-level results and mediocre degrees, deponent knoweth not).

And I feel this fits in a bit with my post earlier this week in that it is weighted to one moment of shining early promise...

Years ago, I read somewhere about somebody who had, after a perhaps not very starry start, become an internationally renowned expert in, I think, educational theory, had published widely in the relevant peer-reviewed journals and with top publishers, won awards etc: and applying for some post, somebody on the panel looked at the c.v. and said, 'huh, they only got a 2.2 from [might have been a polytechnic? anyway, non-elite institution]'.

Okay, with the numbers of sly hoaxers there are in the world, perhaps it is a necessary check on people being who they say they are to have them put down educational information from decades ago, though I very much doubt this sort of thing gets checked ('Did XY attend your school and did they take and pass Geography O-level in year in question?') But there comes a point when the exact grades at least should no longer matter?

I also think of those young persons of promise who perhaps did something - a first book or whatever - that was considered a major achievement and the precursor to very great things indeed and basically either never got the second album together at all, or it was not quite all that.

Or, they got some cushy post and sat back. Or didn't even get the first book out in spite of being considered sure to do great things.

While others do not really hit their stride until much later - this is not, I think, the same as those women artists who have to wait until they are 90 and all their male competitors and critics have died off to be recognised, I'm thinking more of people who get it together, not entirely unlike oneself, in the middle way of life. And possibly not having given any particular signs of remarkable shiny promise.

I think there are lots of different trajectories possible, and I'm not sure that whooshing upwards like a rocket from the get-go is a terribly encouraging model to have in front of one.

comment amnesty

Apr. 18th, 2019 01:16 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
i have rsi flare so 1 hand typing only, will re[ply to ppl later

also hunkerted dowm due to tormado watch lol

styay safe ppl
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
Ben and Rose have just gotten married when they receive a letter from Hannibal saying that he's being held prisoner in a Gothic mansion in Mexico where he's forced to play the violin for the delusional owner of the mansion who has regular hallucinatory conversations with Aztec Gods; he can't flee because, among other obstacles, the police want to hang him as the believe he poisoned the owner's son. Ben and Rose to the rescue!

This had a lot of very thought-provoking and sensitive stuff on the historical treatment of mental illness, legal slavery vs slavery in all but name, religion, and Ben's dilemma of never having a place where he can both feel at home and not have to deal with racism. This was all neatly married to a solid murder mystery, a family drama, and tons of adventure and bonding. Hambly is really good at writing established couples who are still madly in love, and I really enjoyed all the Ben/Rose moments as well as the Ben/Rose & Hannibal. The supporting characters were vivid and interesting, as was the new setting.

The climax didn't rise to quite the batshit heights of the last one, but not for want of trying.

Read more... )

Grimness quotient: Low, all things considered. There's a visit to an asylum which is awful and tragic, but the man running it is compassionate; it's mostly about how people just had no idea what to do about mental illness then. Some people stuck in miserable nunneries. Poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, but also lots of people just living their lives and managing to make pretty good ones despite it all.

Days of the Dead (Benjamin January, Book 7)

sovay: (Claude Rains)
I couldn't remember the last time I'd watched a contemporary, mainstream, non-genre movie, so I decided to give one an experimental try. I picked Nicole Holofcener's The Land of Steady Habits (2018) because it was on Netflix and starred Ben Mendelsohn, whom I have liked ever since he strode across the rainy black sands of the planet Lah'mu in a dramatically unsuitable cape. I enjoyed it; I may even recommend it. I think I have much more of a framework for talking about film noir.

The title is a double-edged nickname for the state of Connecticut, in whose commuter-line suburbs the action, such as it is, of this astringent, empathic sort-of-comedy takes place. Metaphysically it is the plodding routine out of which our semi-hero imagined he would phoenix when he retired early from a high-flying finance job, divorced his wife of three decades, and moved out of their lovingly gardened five-bedroom into a cookie-cutter condo which he now decorates, quizzically and haphazardly, with retail-store knick-knacks and a superfluity of Christmas ornaments; actually all he did was blow up his life. The first time we catch sight of Anders Harris (Mendelsohn), he's staring with bemused determination at the rainbow-stacked walls of towels that dwarf his lanky, black-jacketed, basket-carrying figure at Bed, Bath & Beyond—a poetically dystopian shorthand for the combination of poshlost and decision freeze that now seems to govern Anders' life as he meanders through his aimless new routine of drinking too much and failing to satisfy the women he appears to meet exclusively while shopping, peering in at the windows of his old life as if not quite certain how he ended up on the outside of it, although his ex-wife Helene (Edie Falco) could tell him in so many words. "That's why we got divorced, right? We were all in the way of your happiness." Six months past her ex-husband's midlife implosion, she's the one blooming, her serious new relationship (Bill Camp) marred only by the disconnected incursions of Anders himself, loose end, loose cannon, loser in general. Did you hear about the time he drunkenly let himself into his old house and almost got conked with a golf club by his wife's new man? Or the time he did a hit off a bong with a bunch of high school kids and didn't even stop to ask if there was angel dust laced into that weed? He can't even summon the responsibility to co-parent his similarly floundering son Preston (Thomas Mann), instead falling into an awkwardly drug-fueled camaraderie with Charlie Ashford (Charlie Tahan), the sharp-spoken, artistically gifted, seriously troubled son of his former neighbors (Elizabeth Marvel and Michael Gaston). The Christmas season is coming on fast, one of those dry green winters we get so often nowadays. The two families chime and intertangle, slant-paralleled by their children whose flameouts are the visible symptoms of their parents' more successfully sublimated ills. Between them swings Anders in greying tardy adolescence, frequently absurd and never totally an asshole; what he is is what we don't know if he'll figure out before anyone else's life blows up to match.

In describing this film to [personal profile] spatch, I asked if it would be rude to liken it to American Beauty (1999) if that movie hadn't sucked on ice. I am afraid it is my major referent for white middle-class suburban angst on film; it is a genre I have consistently bounced off in literature, which means it intrigues me that I didn't hate The Land of Steady Habits. I think it helps that Anders, unlike Spacey's protagonist, does not signal his existential panic attack by setting his sexual sights on a teenager; he meets grotty-cute with fellow divorcée Barbara (Connie Britton) in the neon-pink men's room of a strip club where she groans, accepting the handful of wet paper towels that Anders chivalrously passes her over the top of the stall door, "I haven't thrown up in a club since I was twenty-two." With her, he can demonstrate a chagrined self-awareness that's better than self-deprecating charm, although he can still almost ruin a date just by opening his mouth at the end of it. (He manages to apologize for insulting her self-help book by admitting his own anomie, acknowledging that she does deserve her "best life." She accepts gracefully, settling into the bed behind him: "I know I do. That's why I bought the fucking book.") In terms of age-inappropriateness, it is messier and more interesting that he tries to treat like a rational age-mate an out-of-control adolescent desperately looking for a role model, and it is bracing that the film does not permit Charlie to find one in Anders. "You have the balls to live your life, dude!" the kid exhorts him, a two a.m. gate-crasher carrying a turtle in a blue cardboard Keds box, his wrists still braceleted with hospital ID plastic. "That's what sets you apart from the rest of these fucking zombies! You can't go halfway. You can't be you and stay in favor." Anders still full-body facepalming from the discovery that his idiot moment with the PCP has become the talk of their "really small town" is less than flattered by the proposition. I have seen Mendelsohn so often with violence simmering in his rangy frame, it's fascinating to see him play those same subcutaneous tensions for deadpan beats of comedy and a sympathy that the film never twists our arms to give. Nothing about the mess this character has made of his life valorizes or even emphasizes him past the fact that he's human and he's hurting: as with similar disaster zones played by Van Heflin, either that's enough or it isn't. Jurassic strata of cluelessness can flake off with a sudden glass-blue glance or a twitch of his long rueful mouth, or the density of his gaucherie can bring on its own pang of pity. Or just irritation. That is the other relevant difference from my memories of American Beauty, the possibility that Anders might be, in either the spiritual or the narratological senses, irredeemable, and if so the film would feel sorry for him but move on. We have the younger generation to worry about, so much more of their lives at the mercy of their mistakes. We have women like Barbara with her middle-aged curves and her gingery blonde mane of hair, apotropaically but sincerely worrying out loud that she's scared a date off by showing him photos of her adult kids. Turn the kaleidoscope and she could be the protagonist, or spiky Helene, or Sophie Ashford, gravely and piercingly taking care of the stray child within reach instead of her inaccessible own. In others of Holofcener's movies, I have the sense they would be.

As with Ida Lupino, I may have come into Holofcener's filmography at the least characteristic point: The Land of Steady Habits was her first movie with a male protagonist and her first time adapting and directing from another writer's material, in this case the same-named novel by Ted Thompson. I am not sure which of their faults it is that the film after an hour of gently drifting, colliding character study rather suddenly in the third act develops a plot, but while it's not a bad plot, it is signally less compelling to me than just watching these characters bounce around their lives in Westport, CT (played by Tarrytown, NY, which explains why I thought the downtown looked familiar). At its best it's as unpredictable as Anders and as impossible to look away from, whether trainwreck or grace; the cinematography by Alar Kivilo is mostly transparent prose, but every now and then it gifts the audience with a weird and lingering image like the opening shot of Anders vs. the towels or a boatyard of pleasure craft shrink-wrapped and dry-docked for winter like a flotilla of ghosts. Anders askew on a couch, his face illuminated blue-gold-green-pink by a multicolored tangle of Christmas lights. An open but untouched magnum of champagne being smashed, like a silent melodrama or a ship's christening, by the cowcatcher of an oncoming freight train. There are a couple of shots of salt marsh I'd swear I've seen from the Amtrak regional, the stiff tawny ripple of cordgrass and mirror-grey sea, gull-flecked seawalls, mirror-grey sky. Mendelsohn is wonderful, funny and heart-twisting and utterly natural once I got used to his American mumblecore accent; Britton is not in enough scenes, but she's brilliant in all the ones she gets. Tahan, Mann, Falco, even Gaston whose character is mostly defined by his cigar and his fondness for the word "irregardless" are all precise and recognizable people, types only insofar as the slice of affluent America to which they belong idiosyncratically exists. I'm all right with not living there, but I had a much better time with the parts that weren't salt marsh than I would have expected from a summary of prosperous ennui. This experiment brought to you by my steady backers at Patreon.

Hugo Help Please

Apr. 18th, 2019 11:05 am[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Which twelve of my reviews in 2018 were the best?

(no subject)

Apr. 17th, 2019 10:14 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Animated icon of sporkiness. (sporks (rilina))
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 58


How many of you hated The Giving Tree and/or that horrible book with the fish that has to give away its scales?

View Answers

OMG YES IT SUCKED
51 (87.9%)

No, and I will tell you why in comments.
4 (6.9%)

Let me tell you about another popular children's book I hated!
2 (3.4%)

Ticky the tiki bar
19 (32.8%)

Something else I will explain in comments
2 (3.4%)

AUGH

Apr. 17th, 2019 08:22 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
Jane Portal's Korea: Art and Archaeology, in summing up the Imjin War, repeats the inaccurate old saw about how the deciding factor in the naval battles was the geobukseon (turtle ships). There were never enough of the damn things; the fleets were mostly paneokseon. Really, besides the paneokseon, it was superior naval doctrine and tactics that made a difference I WILL SHUT UP NOW BUT THIS BOOK IS WRONG ABOUT SOMETHING I CARE ABOUT AND IT IS DRIVING ME NUTS. I suppose it's too much to expect an art historian to care about Korean naval history.

this is my own fault

Apr. 17th, 2019 04:36 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Animated icon of sporkiness. (sporks (rilina))
Hundred Words just lost all 1,000 words of today's writing because of a bug I'd known about. I just hadn't realized it was that bad. If you Hide (command-H) the app, new text disappears. Last time I was able to recover it; this time I wasn't.

*screams*

I guess I...start over, and return to using Scrivener for production work until I figure out where in tarnation that bug is coming from.

*sob*

I was halfway done with today's writing, and now I'm back to 0. I guess I'll try to recover the 1,000 words and call it a day. This is just demoralizing. *sob*

*sob*
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
Yesterday while out with my camera, I took a picture of the chief rubble heap remaining of the Reid & Murdock Warehouse not just because it was post-industrially striking, but because right smack front and center was a fractured street number on a piece of pale stone and I couldn't have dressed the set more poignantly if I'd had a budget.

Today while on my way to catch a bus from Highland because I had no chance of making my doctor's appointment if I waited for one of the buses that ostensibly run past my actual street, I saw there were three backhoes on site busily clearing away the last of the rubble, the heap I had photographed yesterday among them. A man in a safety vest and hard hat was standing on the far side of the chain-link watching them, I figured the foreman. So I crossed the street and asked if I could ask him something about the demolition and he said yes and I told him I'd been hoping to get a brick from the site because I was fond of the building and he made one of those hold-on-a-minute gestures and walked over to one of the smaller piles of dirt and wreckage where they'd been pulling up the foundations and felt around in it for a brick and brushed the worst of the dirt off and handed it across the chain-link to me. "It was pretty old, huh?" he said sympathetically. "Built in 1929," I said. He had sunglasses and a mustache and between that and the hard hat I am not sure I'd recognize him if we met in street clothes—dark, stocky, maybe ten years older than me—but I might know him if I saw him again at the site. I thanked him seriously. He said the Knights of Malta Hall would be fine. A car honked at me for technically standing in the street and I walked away up School Street carrying a ninety-year-old brick and singing about half of Kipling's "A Pilgrim's Way," which was suddenly and I don't care if over-aptly in my head. I wrapped the brick in Kleenex while waiting for the bus and eventually got a small brown paper bag from a 7-Eleven to slide it into for safekeeping. It's old red brick, partly powdered and crusted with mortar and concrete dust and I guess the archaeological term is crud? The backhoes were stationary by the time I returned from the doctor's, the foreman nowhere to be seen, although some official-looking people in windbreakers and shirtsleeves were conversing by the tracks. I regretted not having a camera because of the afternoon shadows the fire escape of the Litchfield Block was casting on its own warm rose-brown old brick. I got home and put my brick in its bag on the dining room table.

The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)

What I read

Finished A Duke in Disguise - I thought the early sections dragged a bit, or maybe I am just a bit impatient of that particular kind of UST going on and on. But pace did pick up. Also title is a little bit misleading as he's not so much in disguise as unknowing? Also some slight improbability given what we learn about the hero's sexual experience... But, on the whole, the usual page-turner.

Catherine Dain, Luck of the Draw (1996), still waiting on replacement copy of Dead Man's Hand, no 7 in the series.

However, while waiting, embarked on Dain's later series, Death of the Party (2000), which feature an amateur sleuth (actress turned therapist in LA) and found it very generic compared to the Freddie O'Neals: so DNF and that and the second in the series have gone into the charity shop bag. I suspect the other one of hers ('A New Age Mystery'), if I have it, I think it's somewhere about, is likely to be similarly disappointing.

Re-reads of Gail Godwin, Father Melancholy's Daughter (1991) and Evensong (1999), very good but although I felt I wanted to reread these, somehow not quite hitting the spot where I'm at at the moment.

On the go

A bit more of Charlotte Lennox, and pottering on with The Strange Case of Harriet Hall - I have sufficient curiosity to find out the resolution of the mystery, especially after the most recent plot twist, not to abandon it entirely, but it's not exactly an edge of the seat page-turner, so it gets put aside a lot.

Lara Elena Donnelly, Amnesty (The Amberlough Dossier #3), which turned up yesterday: as twisty as ever.

Up next

Dunno: maybe a bit more going through the crime shelves in a picky and critical fashion?

Bits and Bobs

Apr. 17th, 2019 11:14 am[personal profile] forestofglory
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
Bits and bobs is my many small things make post category. Feel free to comment on only some of the things.

*After no one in the household being sick for several weeks, the kid brought home a nasty cold that we all got. I have very mild case and am still up and about but R and E where pretty wiped out. I've been doing quite a bit more around the house the last couple of days to make up for it.

*I was listening to an episode of Be The Serpent,, one of the Hugo nominated fancasts, about personality taxonomies and it made me realize that my trouble with people using Hogwarts houses as shorthand for personality types is that everyone means different, sometimes very different, things by the different houses so its not actually a useful shorthand at all because I have no idea what any one person means. But then I did go read some Sorting Hat Chats and think about different morals systems. I'm definitionally someone with a felt moral system even I can't quite figure out if that makes me a Gryffindor or a Hufflepuff primary in that system.

*This morning I did a big Passover shop. I bought lots of veggies and three kinds of matzo (normal, spelt and whole wheat) and chicken for the soup. I have so many people coming to my Seder. Its going to be awesome! There will be mulitple kids to look for the afikoman. I will feed people. Do you have plans for Passover or Easter? Or just fun things to do this coming weekend?

technical help Q

Apr. 17th, 2019 01:09 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: soulless (orb) (AtS soulless (credit: mango_icons on LJ))
ETA: Mission accomplished--the key is to run Notepad as administrator and then re-edit the hosts file. That enabled me to access regular twitter.com and nuke my Twitter account! *\o/* I guess the catten origami pics will just have to live on my phone, LOL.

Is anyone here knowledgeable in the ways of Twitter?

What I'm trying to do: deactivate my account, nuke it from orbit, whatever. I never want to look at it again.

Why I can't: Every time I go through the steps and hit the "Deactivate this account" button, it auto-relogs me in, reloads, and reactivates the account. It's infuriating.

Possible complication: I can only access mobile.twitter.com, not actual twitter.com, because a year or so back I brilliantly blocked twitter.com on my Windows and Mac machines, but neglected to block mobile.twitter.com. I cannot figure out how to undo whatever it was--something about blocking websites. The last time I tried to re-edit whatever file on my Windows machine, it wouldn't let me save it even though I'm the admin on this computer. I'm foxed.

tl;dr if you are good at computers and know how to make this happen, it would improve my life immensely.

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