scarlettina: (Five)
1) Bad sleep: The end of last week was challenging and emotionally exhausting. I had plans for the weekend that I very much wanted to execute on and so I pushed through, but my sleep was poor and Ezekiel didn't help.

2) Road trip and party: On Saturday, I caught a lift with MD and JF south to Portland for a party celebrating the near-year anniversaries of the marriages of MD and JF, DD and WI, and [livejournal.com profile] calendulawitch and [livejournal.com profile] markjferrari. The party was at WI's parents house, which is situated on a low rise above a river, with beautiful gardens and lots of forest around them. The ranch-style house was gorgeous. We had a delicious potluck dinner on a table decorated with centerpieces from Mark and Shannon's wedding last year. We made s'mores over the firepit. We all talked a lot. I don't think I had nearly enough alcohol. But the company was good, the food quite fine, and the party a reminder that life goes on.

3) Closing the circle: I stayed the night at [livejournal.com profile] kateyule and [livejournal.com profile] davidlevine's place. We got up early to have breakfast with [livejournal.com profile] radiantlisa. I haven't seen her in a year and it was nice to catch up. She looked good; she looked happy, and she's clearly got a good start at starting over again. She returned to me a piece of art that I'd made for [livejournal.com profile] jaylake years ago, a collage inside a silver pocket watch case. When I opened the packaging to look at it for the first time in years, I discovered that he'd attached a chain and fob to it so that, apparently, he could wear it like a regular watch. For some reason, something about that discovery lent closure to a lot of things I've been feeling and thinking about Jay over the last year. I need to find the right place to display the watch in the house now.

4) Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: D&K and I watched the first installment of BBC America's production of the eponymous novel. It's a handsome adaptation and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm delighted that it's on a cable channel I actually can watch, and I'm looking forward to the next episode. With something like Game of Thrones on HBO, to which I do not subscribe, my options are to wait a year to see the season, rely on the kindness of friends (and who has time for this?) or rely on less reputable means to see the series. I've done this last before but it has lost its appeal. I was glad to be able to watch it with D&K. Our impressions of the piece were similar: good production, good performances, and a nice, economical adaptation of a book with a reputation for being a little too long for its actual content.

5) Light!: After a hiccup in delivery, I've finally received the new light fixture for the kitchen. JF has kindly offered to install it for me next week. It's a pretty thing, and I'm looking forward to enjoying its light (and to not sitting under a bare bulb as though I were in an interrogation room anymore).

---------------------
Note to self: next things to post about:
--Ancestry.com and Grandpa Morris' letters to Grandma Sadie
--The Night Circus
scarlettina: (UFO: Believe)
My rewatch of The X Files continues.

Episode 4: "The Jersey Devil": So, if you know your cryptids, you know that the Jersey Devil is a denizen of the New Jersey Pine Barrens and looks something like a cross between a bat, a gryphon and a goat. This episode took up that legend. I remember, when I first watched it, that I felt like I had been cheated, because of what the Jersey Devil in the episode turned out to be. On rewatch, I still don't think it's a particularly strong episode, though I've always been intrigued by the idea of the wild child, grown up outside of civilization, raised by wolves (or bears or whichever animal legend suggests might take in a foundling). Ultimately, though, the episode is about chasing down a killer, though a not particularly sophisticated one. While it doesn't leave much unanswered, there's a reveal at the end that, while not unexpected, is a nice grace note. I still don't buy the "humans killing and sucking on other humans' blood" bit, but there you go. They tried to sell this idea as human throwbacks living in the wilderness. Meh. There's also a subplot that tries to examine Scully's life outside the job. It almost feels like something Carter felt he had to do, as if it weren't already clear four episodes in that Scully loves her job and would be satisfied with a life of investigative work and adventure rather than dating and domesticity. It felt awkward and tacked-on to me. I was struck by how much Scully was tricked up like a bride on her date, wearing a white lace top and a sophisticated up do. Every TV show that features a tough-minded woman always makes a point to have an episode in which we get to see her be beautiful and feminine in spectacular ways, as if to assure that audience that yes, really, she's female and straight and gorgeous. Heteronormative. I always find these moments a little obvious. No less so here.

I actually skipped rewatching "Shadows" and "Ghost in the Machine". I remember finding them both dissatisfying and predictable on original viewing and in reruns. The former involves Scully and Mulder investigating ghostly activity around a secretary whose boss has been murdered. The restless spirit has returned to protect her and to ensure that his killer is caught. ::yawn::
The latter episode involves a corporate operating system becoming sentient and killing those who try to deactivate it. While "Ghost" gives us another glimpse of Deep Throat, it does nothing to forward the Mythology. Yeah, it's a Monster of the Week episode but it's dull. There's no There there. Scully and Mulder solve a crime, the end. Again ::yawn::.

The eighth episode, "Ice", gets things kicking again. It's The X Files' take on "The Thing": an alien bug discovered beneath the arctic ice creates paranoia and foments violence and murder in a claustrophobic episode that still creeped the hell out of me. The guest actors included Felicity Huffman, which was a surprise; she's very good indeed, as one of the infected scientists. Rewatching the ep, I found myself impressed by the amount of violence between the characters, by how jarring it was to see Mulder and Scully so untrustful of each other that they'd turn their guns on each other. At the same time, there's an intimacy to the scenes in which they examine each other for signs of alien infection that pinged all my slash buttons because of how relieved they are to realize that neither of them are infected. It's also a contrast to the rest of the episode--seeing bare human skin in an environment where everyone is covered up for warmth. Also, seeing bare human intimacy in a situation in which everyone is hiding, covering up, acting in self defense. The episode also does a fine job, at the end, of putting the viewer in Scully's shoes. When Mulder learns that the site, now evacuated, has been firebombed for protection, he freaks out and wants to go back to get the alien bugs for further scientific study. Everything in me was repelled by the idea and wanted to ask him what the hell he's thinking, given everything that's just happened. He listens when Scully just tells him to leave it there. Yeah. Right on, Scully.
scarlettina: (UFO: Believe)
With the news that The X Files is returning to TV for a limited 6-episode run (squeee! and also ummm...), I find myself rewatching the series, starting with Season 1. I'm four episodes in and I'm struck by a number of things that I've either forgotten over the years or occur to me now as a watcher with more advanced technology than we had when the show was first aired.

Cut for fannish analysis that would probably be boring to anyone else )

After watching these four episodes now, it's obvious why the series hit it out of the park the moment it aired. These first episodes are so good, so creepy; they set up back story effectively and with real emotional depth; and the characters are well defined immediately. It's already established that there's more going on than meets the eye, a cover-up or conspiracy of some kind. The justification that one character makes in the second episode--our work is equal to the protection we give it--sets up the dichotomy immediately: the FBI protects the public, but how far should that protection go if it threatens greater protections in place? And who's to say what the public should and shouldn't know? I'm falling in love with the series all over again.

Leonard Nimoy

Fri, Mar. 13th, 2015 07:55 am
scarlettina: (To Boldly Go)
In writing about Terry Pratchett's death, it occurred to me that I never wrote about Leonard Nimoy's passing, the end of a life far more consequent to mine that Sir Terry's. Nimoy died while I was away at the Rainforest Writers Village at the end of February where internet access was unreliable. He was 83 years of age, and was another man who lived life fully and well.

Here's the thing: I don't remember a life without Star Trek, which means that I don't remember a world without Spock, a character created by Gene Roddenberry, embodied by Nimoy, and fleshed out by decades of writers both professional and fannish (including myself). Star Trek literally changed my life. It was my first taste of science fiction, and Spock was an inextricable part of that. Nimoy's devotion to the role, his passion for getting the character right, his infusion of Spock with nobility, thoughtfulness, and spirituality made the character more substantial than almost any other character in the media side of the genre until that time.

Star Trek brought me to science fiction. Science fiction brought me to friends, to fanfic, to a career, and to a life I would never have had otherwise. And it was a delight when I got to work with the property in a professional capacity at Bantam Books.

Leonard Nimoy helped make Trek the indelible cultural touchstone it's become, the indelible personal touchstone it became for me. Respect, sir, and thank you for your work.

"Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most ... human."
--Captain James T. Kirk

""He's really not dead ... as long as we remember him."
--Dr. Leonard McCoy
scarlettina: (TV Watcher)
Last night, I needed to detox from a really emotionally stressful week, so I stayed home and watched TV with the cats. I watched "Forrest Gump" and the SNL 40th anniversary special, switching back and forth between channels. Here are some of the random thoughts that occurred.

Thoughts on Forrest Gump, its actors and its historical context )

Thoughts on the SNL 40th anniversary show )

And in the midst of all this rumination and observation, I found myself noticing that SNL premiered somewhere in the 1970s and that Forrest Gump probably never watched it. His Jenny almost certainly did.
scarlettina: (Rainy Day)
Right now, I'm looking for reasons to be cheerful. So here's a list:

1) I got to spend a lovely, quiet Thursday evening with [livejournal.com profile] ironymaiden, who was perfect company after a tough week. W had pizza for dinner, then sat by the fireplace place talking, drinking whiskey, and discussing girl things. It was a perfect visit.

2) I got to attend a friend's large, fun 60th birthday this past weekend. She booked the Fremont Abbey for the event, which turned out to be a pretty terrific party venue. She had a DJ and bar upstairs, and a gaming room and food downstairs. I invited [livejournal.com profile] suricattus along to meet some of the locals and party along with us. I danced a lot because I really wanted to, and without realizing it ended up leading some folks doing the Time Warp. Apparently this is now one of my roles--and one I gladly embrace. Rocky Horror was so formative an experience for me; the Time Warp seems to have become my personal folk dance. We had a pretty great time.

3) I had a small group of friends over this past Sunday night to watch the series premier of The Librarians, the new TV series based on the three Noah Wylie TV movies. It was light, goofy fun, very much what was needed. I was glad to have friends over--EB, [livejournal.com profile] suricattus, [livejournal.com profile] varina8 and [livejournal.com profile] oldmangrumpus--for a pleasant, low-key evening.

4) I've been reading a book on loan from [livejournal.com profile] varina8 called People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and quite enjoying it. It's about an old, mysterious, and beautiful haggadah, and the book restorer who's been asked to conserve it and learn about its history. The book alternates between stories from the haggadah's history and the conservator's search and her life. It's very well-written, very well-managed. As I continue to try to navigate my way through writing my own novel, I find myself examining things like structure from an entirely new perspective and it's a fascinating way to read.

5) I spent so much time away from home last week that I've been savoring being home with the kitties. It's hard for me to leave for work--for pretty much anywhere right now--that will mean being away from my four-footed housemates. With the coming of the cold, they've both been pretty cuddly, and I can't say that I object.

I've been feeling and thinking about other things, too, how relentlessly dark it's been, how I seem to be coming down with a cold, how I'm not ready for the holidays, how unhappy I am with my weight right now. But I'm not going to dwell upon them here. Right now, it would serve no purpose. I'm going to go spend some time playing with Zeke. I don't think there's been quite enough of that.
scarlettina: (Movie tix)
I recently noted that I ought to be posting about the more pleasant things I've been doing lately, so here's a quick overview of some of my recent passtimes:

Book-It Rep production of "Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus": For those unfamiliar with Book-It Repertory Theater, it's a local company that specializes in book adaptations for the stage. Shortly after I came to Seattle they won my heart with their production of "Jane Eyre" (material about which I am notorious hard to please), and became my favorite local company. Their works never disappoint. If I dislike what I see (which is rare), at least it's always interesting and thought-provoking. If you follow my theater tag below, you'll see reviews of their other productions. Anyway, the production of Frankenstein that I saw last Friday night falls under the "liked it well enough with quibbles" category. The adaptation was very faithful to Mary Shelley's novel, presented as Victor's recollections told to a sea captain who finds him stranded in the Arctic. The play is graphic and was presented with some lovely stage magic to portray severed limbs being reanimated with electricity, as well as the autopsy of a body on stage. All the performances were good ones, especially Connor Toms (whom I saw in Seattle Rep's production of "Red") as Victor, and Frank Lawler (who was my supervisor more than a decade ago at Microsoft/Expedia) as Walton, the sea captain. I disliked the lurid make-up applied to the actor who played the creature; and I really disliked the director's choice to hide a male nude body in full silhouette but to pointedly display a female body fully lit later. That particular choice really angered me because the moments were analogous to each other; the inequity pissed me off, and when I received Book-It's survey asking me about my experience, I made a point to mention it. That said, however, it was a good show--not the best of theirs, but I was satisfied and entertained.

Cosmos: Watched the first episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson's reboot of "Cosmos" and enjoyed it quite a bit. I remember Sagan's portrayal of our cosmic address, and it was fun to see this update. I'm looking forward to more episodes.

Smashed pennies: I don't remember whether or not I mentioned it, but I find myself once again on the Board of Directors of The Elongated Collectors. One of my roles is to administer the annual coin design challenge, in which we choose a theme and challenge the club membership to submit coin designs based upon it. This year's theme celebrated space exploration and science fiction. Of course, being the administrator, I couldn't submit a design! But I was delighted to receive the entries and run the Board's vote for the winner. We chose a pretty nice design, I think, and I've written the newsletter article to announce the winner. From here on out, my role on the board will be to cast votes and voice my opinion as needed; no further hard work required. I'm OK with that. This was fun enough.

H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian: Just completed this book, the third in the Aubrey/Maturin series and am completely hooked. It's all [livejournal.com profile] ironymaiden's fault! While I'm searching for a copy of book 4, I must figure out what to read in the meanwhile.

Knitting: I mentioned last week that I've taken up knitting and I recently finished my second piece, a charcoal-gray infinity scarf with metallic thread running through it. I'm pretty pleased with the result and I learned quite a bit while doing it. My next project will probably be a hat, mostly to learn more techniques rather than because I really want to make a hat. In the meanwhile, here's a picture of the completed piece:

1488168_10203445356078467_2110705619_n
scarlettina: (Five)
1) Books: Having enjoyed Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, I picked up Etiquette & Espionage, the first book in her Finishing School series. I understand that its target audience is YA, but I've read some excellent YA titles. This? I'm halfway through and I'm just finding it a little tiresome. It's the second book I've put down unfinished recently (the first having been Murder in Belleville by Cara Black; I just didn't care) which, for me, is rather remarkable. Moving on to Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, which I'm finding entertaining, though the rambling sentences and extended parentheticals may drive me to distraction. We'll see.

2) Sports: After yesterday's championship qualifier at CLink Stadium, it looks like the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl. I've never in my life cared about football, but the spirit of the 12th Man* is so strong in Seattle, I find it rubbing off on me a bit. The anticipation around town this week was very strong and after last night's win, spirits are very high. Toward the end of the game yesterday, I saw a firework through my living room window explode over Lake Union. People are excited. I may actually watch the Super Bowl this year for more than just the commercials.

3) State of me: I was very low yesterday morning, getting almost no writing done at our Sunday morning meet-up and hating everything I've written recently. I was aggravated with myself and impatient with everything. I think some of this is hormonal and some of it seasonal. I also think it has to do with the amount of sugar I ingested yesterday morning. I must be far more careful with what I put into my body. I must get far better with my self-care. I'm sure I'll be writing more about this another time. This morning? Not so much.

4) Travel: I'm going to be in New York City for a few days in March and have been trying to find lodging for myself and my travel partner. I've been contacting places to stay through VRBO.com, with which I've had excellent luck before, but so far, bupkiss. Not that I haven't found anything. I've found several lovely apartments listed as available, but one declined our reservation, and the other two haven't responded--just radio silence. I'll be following up on the second and third today, and if I can't get anything nailed down, then I'll be pursuing a fallback position that will be perfectly adequate but not what we thought would be optimal. I really want to get this lodging issue nailed down so I can focus on other elements of the trip, and this chasing about for lodging is very frustrating.

5) Cats: Zeke is beginning to mellow. He's about a year and a half now, and he's getting a little more chill. He still has his asshole moments, knocking things off of shelves for attention, walking around the house whining because he's not getting what he wants--I guess that doesn't make him an asshole so much as a teenager. But he's handsome and he's becoming a bit of a cuddlebug, about which I cannot complain. Sophie is her usual sweet and affectionate self. She has taken to a fur mouse I purchased for her, tossing it about, carrying it around in her mouth and so on. I am purely delighted with her, as always.

Bonus! 6) Watched Downton Abbey and the season premiere of Sherlock last night. I want to care more about Downton than I'm finding that I do this season. I may watch the episode via the Masterpiece web site again later this week to figure out why I'm not as engaged. The Sherlock episode was terrific. I'm wildly curious about who targeted Watson in with the rest of it. I may need to watch that episode again, too. Cumberbatch and Freeman have such great chemistry together; they're a delight.


* 12th Man: This term refers to Seahawks fandom, which is practically a tangible force inside the stadium and throughout the region. It's a big deal in these parts. There are "12" flags all over town.
scarlettina: (TV Watcher)
1) Tomorrow I depart for a company retreat at the McMenamin's Edgefield Resort outside of Portland. It's an overnight trip, and the resort looks cool and interesting, with art all over the place. [livejournal.com profile] jaylake was there recently with [livejournal.com profile] radiantlisa and their pictures of the place make it look just lovely. I'll be carpooling down and back with three other coworkers whom I quite like and I expect it will be fun. It'll be work, but it'll be work in good company.

2) Last night's episode of Castle was kind of a nergasm. In a nod to Terminator 2, we've got a double-murder, a suspect who claims to be a time traveler from the future (Joshua Gomez of "Chuck"), a physicist targeted as the Cause of It All (Tim Russ of "Star Trek" in a lovely copycat role of Joe Morton's engineer Miles Dyson from T2), a big, stoic, Germanic type hunting the innocents. And a nice, Twilight Zone-type twist at the end. If you get a chance, catch it online. The ep is called "Time Will Tell."

3) This weekend, in preparation for the coming Thor movie, I rented and watched "Captain America" and "Thor" to fill the holes in my Avengers education. Neither of these movies had any right to be as good or as much fun as they were, but I enjoyed the hell out of them both! I find myself thinking more about Thor than Cap, I think, because of how it ended--with a sort of romantic moment that wasn't at all saccharine. But also because the film made the patently absurd remarkably believable. I suspended my disbelief and didn't second-guess it for a moment. I had a moment or two of hesitation with Captain America, but only a moment or two. Lots of fun. And last night I watched "The Avengers"--my third time seeing it. I was impressed once again with how the director treats Steve Rogers, shooting him and lighting him like he's still a 1940s-era hero, always in sepia browns with brilliant yellow lighting (see especially the boxing scene)--except when he's in uniform. I remain convinced that both the actors and the script have created a canon for Stark/Banner. They're adorable together. It's rare you see two men so blatantly flirt with each other the way they do--you can see their brains sparking off each other--and I love it that the Hulk roars Stark back to consciousness (like waking him with a kiss) and that they drive off together. I loves me my dark-haired, dark-eyed geniuses (even one with breathtaking anger management issues and even if the other is kind of an asshole). ::grin:: Prime, tasty work by RDJ and Mark Ruffalo.

4) Last night I talked with BB, a friend I've known since childhood. I continue to be struck by how different our lives are. I'm not surprised--we were never on the same path by any means. The things we have in common are elemental--where we grew up and the culture there--but other than that, we couldn't be more different. She is a sweet, good-hearted woman and just having a really rough time this year, with family illness all around. I've tendered yet another in a long list of invitations for her to take a break and come visit me, even if it's just for a weekend. As usual, she said it sounded wonderful but will probably never accept, which I regret.

5) My thoughts around the above-noted invitation got me to thinking about getting out of one's comfort zone. It's a challenge for me to do that, but I push myself to do so because I think it's important for me to stretch myself--and it's resulted in amazing travel and wonderful personal experiments. Comfort zones are by definition comfortable, though, and some people--many people--just don't see the need to break out of them. I hope that I never stop pushing myself, even if it's just in tiny increments. When we stop learning, we die.

Bonus! 6) I'm thinking about 2014 and the possibility of international travel again. Certainly there's the WorldCon in London as one option, and [livejournal.com profile] fjm has already planted a seed about it that I continue to consider. On the other hand I've been to London twice and there are other places in the world that I want to see (though I surely haven't seen nearly enough of London--can one ever?): Morocco, for one. That idea is really taking root. But I also find myself thinking about Tanzania and the Great Migration (though safari trips are insanely expensive). It's funny. There are all these places in Europe I want to see, and yet when my mind turns to travel for real, I always find myself thinking farther afield. Apparently there's something about Africa generally that I find compelling. Still haven't figured this out yet, though. More thought to come.

Editor's note: When I post a Five Things list, often each entry in the list includes a bolded phrase. Usually, this bolded phrase is kind of the subject of the bullet point. I figure it makes it easier to parse the post and see what might be interesting to read about. I don't know if this is true. But what I do know is that people seem more inclined to respond to my Five Things posts when subjects are bolded than not, which I find a fascinating phenomenon from a usability standpoint.
scarlettina: (Autumn)
1) I've been watching Sleepy Hollow, and it occurred to me to post about it mainly because [livejournal.com profile] terri_osborne has been squeeing about it. I think I'm digging the concept of the show more than I am the show itself. I'll be sticking with the show for now, but I really hope they find a way to add a little more substance somewhere because there's something that's still not quite working for me. Maybe I don't buy Katrina. Maybe I don't buy Ichabod's wearing the same damn clothes for weeks on end. (What happens to his colonial authenticity when he finally buys himself a pair of jeans and a leather duster and gets out of the 200-year-old clothes in which he rose from the grave cave?) I'm buying Abby; I'm just not buying Ichabod the way I want to. I want him to be more of a fish out of water. I want him to react more to the things that are unfamiliar, to be uncomfortable with things that would have been unheard of in his time or that look like magic to him. I'm having trouble suspending my disbelief because the script and the performances don't give me hooks upon which to hang it.

2) Work seems to be an endless cycle of being told I should prioritize my own projects but being derailed again and again by little fires that must be put out right now. It's getting a little frustrating.

3) Everything connected to weight and food is challenging right now. I don't know if it the encroaching darkness of autumn or what, but eating well and getting exercise both seem to require a massive effort right now and it's making me a little crazy. I need to find my determination to be consciously healthy again and kick this business in the ass.

4) Tonight I'm attending SIFF's 40th anniversary member event. They're doing their annual member pre-sale for discounted festival ticket packages and passes, and showing Judi Dench's new movie Philomena, which Rotten Tomatoes shows a rating of 97%--a pretty remarkable score. I didn't know a thing about it until I started reading the summary over there, and then decided I didn't want spoilers--but it's looking like it will be an enjoyable evening, especially in the company of [livejournal.com profile] ironymaiden and [livejournal.com profile] varina8.

5) Why is it harder for me to get out the door in the morning when I face a bus commute than it was when I faced a car commute? Is it the darkness? Is it the prospect of dealing with other humans so early in the morning? I wonder.
scarlettina: (Five)
1) This morning, [livejournal.com profile] dsmoen posted a link to the Travelers' Century Club, the only qualification for which is that one has visited 100 countries. Oh dear. I'm only at 18 13 (I miscounted somewhere along the way), not counting my own country. I have a lot of work to do. I have visited: Canada, Mexico, Japan, Israel, Egypt, Kenya, England, Wales, Scotland, France, Germany, Lithuania, and the Netherlands so far. There will be more!

2) Saw Gravity with a group of friends last Friday night and thought it was extraordinary.

3) Saw Captain Philips on Wednesday, by the good offices of my friend SA. Good--not great--movie based on a remarkable true story. Tom Hanks is in fine form as a freighter captain whose ship is hijacked by Somali pirates. At the core of the film are Philips and Muse (say "moo-seh"), the pirate captain. They give two terrific performances in a film that, when it gets to the meat of its story, is very good indeed, but is a little superficial around the edges. (The captain's wife's character is barely there, and the military characters later in the film are stock soldiers Doing Their Jobs.) Despite its weaknesses around the edges, I was on the edge of my seat in the last third of the film and in the end actually cried a bit so, yeah, I was fully engaged.

4) You never know who you're sitting next to in a movie theater. When we went to see Captain Philips, a fellow about 10 years older than myself sat down next to me. SA greeted him by his first name. We chatted pleasantly for a bit before the theater went dark. The next day, SA sent me email telling me that I had been sitting next to and chatting with Conservative commentator and film reviewer Michael Medved. Good thing we talked about movies rather than politics. This continues my string of chance encounters with well-known people of whose identity I was oblivious until later.

5) I haven't yet found the charm in Agents of Shield (except for Agent Coulson, owing entirely to Clark Gregg, whose charm is undeniable). I'm entertained but not compelled by Sleepy Hollow. I've enjoyed Project Runway this season and am pulling for Dom to win. I keep missing The Amazing Race and really want to catch up. I'm enjoying, as usual, The Big Bang Theory and Castle though, man, I wish it were on an hour earlier. Staying up that late to watch a show is just murder on me.
scarlettina: (TV Watcher)
So I spent some time this afternoon and evening thinking about the essay about The Big Bang Theory (TBBT)--a show I've watched more-or-less since the beginning--that's making the rounds on social media. The essay posits that this show about four super-brainy geeks is actually a show that makes fun of nerds, not a show that loves them. The essay posits that it's the ultimate manifestation of mainstream disdain for nerdy enthusiasm and social awkwardness, and that it further ghettoizes geek culture. It posits that the show's point-of-view character is Penny, the "normal" girl, and that the audience is supposed to laugh with her at the nerds, rather than laughing with the nerds at themselves. I spent a lot of time researching and starting to write a long exegesis analyzing all of this and then, tonight, realizing that I just didn't feel like writing the encyclopedic refutation I originally had in mind (three paragraphs in, I realized that if I continued, the resulting analysis would be worthy of--dare I say it--Dr. Sheldon Cooper*), I decided to approach it a little more simply.

I disagree with the essay at a pretty fundamental level. I don't think that Penny is the viewpoint character; it is clearly and obviously Leonard, the best-socialized of the four main male characters. He is Penny and the audience's facilitator into the geekier universe of Raj, Howard, and Sheldon, but he's also Raj, Howard, and Sheldon's facilitator into Penny's more mundane world. He's a person of both worlds and is befuddled by navigating them both. That's where a lot of the comedy in this show comes from.** When the audience laughs at a geek reference, it's partly out of recognition of something beloved and familiar; it's partly because we each in our own way identify with having a deep enthusiasm (whether it's which issue of a comics some character last appeared in or which baseball game was the last in which some player played for some particular team); and it's partly because each character is doing something so signally in character that it provides entertainment, delight, or surprise.

I'm not saying that every joke on TBBT is good-natured. Some things are funny because they're mean; that's the nature of comedy, and there's not a single sitcom on television that isn't cruel towards its characters, whether the jokes are about weight, about how long someone has been single, about baldness, and so on. (My God, the jokes about obesity on Roseanne were legion, and yet the Connors' obesity was one of the things that made them most identifiable to the audience. I don't think many fat people objected to the jokes--or if they did, they didn't watch, and missed a key pop-cultural moment in television.) But most sitcoms, including TBBT, are also loving toward their characters. There is a balance. (Howard's character has been treated with real love in the development of his relationship with Bernadette; he's clearly grown and changed.) It should also be noted that the mean jokes aren't just as the expense of the geekitude. There are mean jokes about Leonard's height, Howard's mother, Penny's relative lack of education and her attempts at acting, at Bernadette's astonishing vocal resemblance to Howard's mother. The show is an equal-opportunity insult machine. But also? It does--like the best sitcoms--get at some fundamental truths about being human and being an American in this time and place. Comedy comes from--and leads to--that as well.

In the end, here's the thing: if we can't find a way to laugh at ourselves (in the guise of Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard), then we're kind of missing the point--which is that everyone is socially awkward in one way or another. Everyone is super-geeky about one thing or another. Everyone has had moments of social humiliation along with personal triumph, moments of desperation in dating, cluelessness in friendship, and painful yet transformative growth. I think the original essay writer betrays a sensitivity about his own geekitude in his refutation of TBBT, and that's OK. But I think that there are valuable lessons to be learned from the show by viewing it through a broader lens than he's viewing it through. And I think that geeks who turn off TBBT, while certainly within their rights to do so, are missing something key about the entire TBBT phenomenon: it wouldn't be happening if we geeks weren't a cultural force to be reckoned with in the first place--and that's something that, as geeks, we have always wanted and that we--no question--have achieved.


* For example, the author posits that TBBT is the first show to feature geeks front and center. I started to research the truth of this assumption, since I disagreed with his disqualification of other shows that I thought plainly punctured it. The Lone Gunmen came first. And Chuck premiered the same year TBBT did. 'Nuff said.
** I should note, upon reflection, that Penny is Bernadette and Amy's facilitator to the guys' world and, often, the guys' facilitator to the women.
scarlettina: (TV Watcher)
So, I've been a loyal fan of Project Runway since the second season of the show. This year, they added PR All Stars, with runners-up from previous seasons competing for the grand prize. For longtime fans like me this was a treat, because several of my favorite designers returned, and a couple of the people I loved to hate came back so I could hate on them a little more. :-) Tonight was the finale. Cut for spoilers )

Over all, I'm quite satisfied with the season. I wonder what Season 10 will bring. Mostly, I'm looking forward to the return of Tim Gunn. :-)
scarlettina: (Madness)
Despite my extremely well-ordered to-do list, I feel a little overwhelmed by everything that's happening in the next few days--which actually all started this morning.

1) Job interview: This morning's interview materialized a day or two ago. Interesting company. Went well. I have . . . thoughts about it, but will not share for the moment. We'll see what happens.

2) Clothing consignment: My first attempt at clothing consignment worked out pretty well. Several months back, I dropped some stuff off at Two Big Blondes plus-size consignment and recently received a modest but acceptable check; all the clothes I'd given them had sold. Today, after the aforementioned interview, I went and dropped off some spring clothes for consignment--12 hangers, which included some favorite, hard-to-let-go tops, the dress I wore to my brother's wedding, and a couple of pairs of slacks. The hole in my closet is considerable, though not so large as I might have expected. Still, some of this is me divesting myself of stuff; some of it is making space for new clothes that will fit a smaller me. It's a net good.

3) Skills assessment: I'm currently in the running for a job, the company for which has asked me to do what they refer to as homework and what I refer to as a skills assessment. It might also be construed as freelance work, and I'll bill them if my work shows up on their web site. It's not an inconsiderable amount of work, but I understand why companies do this and what they're looking for, so I'll do it because I want the job. But my time is compromised because of my prior commitment for this weekend, which is . . .

(ETA: First draft of skills assessment completed. Stepping away to let it gel. Will review tomorrow and then get it off to the employer in question.)

4) Potlatch 21: I'm on three panels and will be going, also, to attend the banquet, donate to the auction and, in general, enjoy myself. Schedule:

Saturday
2 PM: Deconstructing A Canticle for Leibowitz
7 PM: Blocking Writer's Block

Sunday
3 PM: Short Story, Novella, or Novel

It's going to be a whirlwind; I'm going to fret about parking until I figure it out (the hotel is in a challenging spot for parking); and my Sunday is going to be difficult because . . .

5) The Oscars: The awards show starts at 4 PM, when my last panel at Potlatch ends, and I had invited a few people over to my place to watch. I've already arranged for some friends to open the house so that guests can come and watch the show from the beginning. But somewhere in here, I'd hoped to give the house some kind of once-over with a dust cloth or vacuum, and to maybe make some food. I'm feeling . . . challenged as a result of this.

6) Another job interview: On the heels of Potlatch, I have a job interview on Monday morning. Two hours, no waiting, on the Eastside.

7) Rainforest Writers Village: After all of this madness, I disappear for five days for a writing retreat. Cat sitting has been arranged and I should have some time for house cleaning before I depart, but if one more job interview is scheduled before my departure (and one may very well be), it'll make things that much more challenging. Don't get me wrong: interviews are good--we want interviews. But my time is short and I'm trying not to lose my hair in all this.

OK, OK, not really a summary. I think I needed to vent. Madness. Madness! But I'll manage. I think maybe, though, first, a cup of tea is in order. . . .
scarlettina: (GH: Sepia Grant)
I've been a fan of Ghost Hunters since it first aired on SciFi SyFy eight years ago. It was programming targeted point-blank at me: someone with a lifelong interest in the paranormal, a show filled with interesting people doing something I'd love to do. And I dug the two main investigators, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson--especially Grant who was, by all reports, a writer, a gamer, and musician, the more talkative of the two. Over time the show went from focusing on both the investigations and the team's interpersonal relationships to focusing purely on the investigations, almost to the point of making it all a little dry. More recently, Grant began to seem impatient, a little bored with the work, or at least a little frustrated. His enthusiasm seemed to be dwindling and it was obvious.

So last night, when he announced that he was leaving Ghost Hunters, the show, and TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), the organization at the center of the show, to pursue other personal goals, I have to say that I was only slightly surprised. And disappointed, certainly. For me, Ghost Hunters has always been about Jason and Grant mainly (though it's been fun to watch Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango come into their own as investigators). I'm really going to miss him. And I have to say, my interest in the series, which has already waned somewhat, will probably wane all that much more. As I said above, it all seems to be pretty rote at this point. The investigations are less interesting to me, and there's not much in the way of human interest or drama. All good things come to an end, I guess.

I hope that, whatever it is that Grant's going to pursue, it's something that satisfies him and gives him joy; it sure seems like that stopped being TAPS quite some time ago.
scarlettina: (Five)
1) It's cold. It's just damp enough to make it feel colder. Brr. I wish I had a log to burn in the fireplace. Maybe I'll splurge and get a couple when I go grocery shopping later today.

2) I either need to get warmer clothes to jog in, or I need to join a gym. The former would be cheaper. The latter would provide more options for working out than just running. Money is an issue. There's a gym in Ballard that could suit my financial needs. I've visited it and it's clean and well-equipped. I'm hesitating only because money makes me nervous right now. I need to get over that and just make the commitment--one way or the other.

3) On the subject of money, judicious holiday shopping continues apace. I'm being careful and finding ways to work within my budget, for which I'm truly grateful. At this age, I guess I've learned a thing or two about being creative with cash. Sometimes I'm not so sure.

4) In a fit of stir-crazy, I got out of the house yesterday for a while to do a little bit of that judicious holiday shopping and to get a little work done. It was nice to see the outside world and be with other humans. It gave me creative ideas for gifts that I might not otherwise have had. This is a goodness.

5) I've been watching The Amazing Race, which I've never watched before, and really enjoying it. I watched this past Sunday's episode online last night and discovered that, unsurprisingly, my favorite team was eliminated. They'd fallen behind in ways that made it clear they wouldn't catch up. They handled it with grace and good humor, which has pretty much been their hallmark since the beginning. I'm genuinely sorry to see them go. I'm loving seeing all the places that teams get to go; it's giving me BIG wanderlust, something kind of beyond my reach right now. I still have hopes for Europe in 2012. We'll see what happens.
scarlettina: (TV Watcher)
Rest in peace, Elizabeth Taylor. The world will remember you as a pretty fine actress, a dazzling beauty, and a mountain-moving activist. I'll always be an admirer of yours for your ability to survive and thrive despite personal setbacks and illness.

Last night, I went out with the girls to see the new movie version of Jane Eyre. It is beautifully filmed and well cast, but the actors were directed to be so understated that I think some of the emotional journey of the story just gets lost in translation. If a viewer has never read the book, I suspect that the developments between Jane and Mr. Rochester just wouldn't make sense. Even for me, who has read the book at least once every 18 months or so for most of my life, some of the encounters felt forced because the film showed little of the characters' inner lives and spared us facial close-ups that might have provided the revelation necessary to make emotional points. On the plus side, the locations, costumes and--as I said--casting are spot on, the dialogue is truer to the book than I've ever seen in an adaptation, and there are moments when the movie nails every detail. It's still not the definitive adaptation, but I'm glad that filmmakers continue to make the effort. We'll get there, someday. What's your favorite adaptation of this book?

I still have a bunch of movies I want to see: The Adjustment Bureau, Rango, The Last Lions, Biutiful, The Eagle, The Lincoln Lawyer...and a couple I'm sure I'm forgetting. I need to get a move on. Some of these won't be around much longer, if they're not already gone.

Big Love has concluded its run. I've watched every episode since the very beginning, and I think what kept me coming back was the women. I think the show did a really fine job of portraying the journey of these three women in this enormously challenging situation and how they grew toward independence, how their thinking evolved and changed, how they became more authentically themselves throughout everything. Glad I got to go on that journey with them. It made me think about faith and relationships and the very different lives people lead, even as we live in the same country and share a lot of foundational principles. And now that it's concluded, that's one less hour a week I'll spend watching TV.
scarlettina: (TV Watcher)
Last night's big surprise: Keith Olbermann's departure from MSNBC. I was going to watch Countdown last night, but realized that I didn't have time as I was expecting a guest for dinner. I stopped to check my Twitter stream, and that's when I got wind of the news, then started scanning the Web for more information. I've been a pretty regular viewer of Olbermann's, though for the last year or so, I've watched less frequently mainly because sometimes he got a little too strident for me. Didn't mean I respected him any less; I just find myself withdrawing a little more from my interest in politics lately. But I digress. Apparently Olbermann's departure was a mutual thing between him and MSNBC. It's a huge loss, though, and not just for the liberal community, but for the shouting match dialog of American culture and politics. I hope he'll be back on the air somewhere in the near future. For all that he can be too strident, he still speaks truth to power with a passion and eloquence that is rare in today's media environment. His obvious thought and surgical analysis is needed. I'm going to miss him on the air.
scarlettina: (Default)
1. I'm feeling reluctant about booking my room for WorldCon. Why? WorldCon Reservation made. Still need to purchase my membership. Yeah, I should have done it a while back; I know. ::sigh::

2. I'm glad I'm seeing the doctor on Thursday. This stomach thing is becoming scary. Today, for the first time, it laid me out from 2:30 until 6. I hope it doesn't happen again tomorrow.

3. Spanky is eating crunchy food; I'm glad he's eating and that he wants to, but I wish it were the food the vet prescribed for him. I couldn't reach the vet today by phone about what I should be doing about his food. I'm going to try again tomorrow.

4. Watched the season opener of Big Love tonight. I thought it was an excellent way to start their final season. Bill Henrickson has been needing a wake-up call. I don't know if he truly understands the one he just got. We'll see. I hope the quality of this ep follows through the season; last year was so uneven and so awkwardly paced.

5. Chuck returns tonight on NBC. Looking forward to that.

6. I haven't been watching a lot of TV lately and I realize it's for two reasons: 1) Winter hiatus 2) Everything I watch is on Monday nights or can be time shifted and I seem to shift everything to Monday nights. At any rate, it makes for easier time management. Besides, three out of five evenings this week are booked. And I need time to write.

7. After talking this weekend, I think I may have a solution to the short story that felt like it was getting away from me. Writer friends are awesome.

8. I need to make an eye doctor appointment, no matter how expensive it may be. I really need a new prescription.

9. I have decided that my Sophie-cat looks like a bon-bon, a delicious dark chocolate with light chocolate swirls and a creamy filling.

10. Looks like my brother's wedding has been rescheduled. Now I can begin to make my plans for later spring. East Coast, here I come!
scarlettina: (Spirits)
Met up with [livejournal.com profile] varina8 this morning for writing and gossip and tea and writing. I wrote my minimum acceptable 500 words today and am feeling good about that. That's over and above the 170 words I excised and had to replace. Go writer me.

After we were writers, we were shoppers. We went over to Half Price Books. I picked up a couple of novels and, the thing I'm embarrassed to be most pleased about having found, on DVD, seasons 1 and 2 of the Discovery Channel series, A Haunting, which tells true tales of--you guessed it--hauntings. The short story I'm working on is a ghost story, so this find is not only pleasing but, currently, thematically appropriate. Having spent faaaar more time than anyone should watching TV shows about the supernatural and paranormal, I'm here to say that for spooky chills and things that make you go "huh!" this series is in my top ten. It's a complete guilty pleasure and I'm not too proud to admit it. :-)

Something else that made me squee this weekend was the arrival of an unexpected package. You see, late, late last year, I posted about how cold it was and how I needed to buy wool socks to keep my feet warm. The package was from [livejournal.com profile] mabfan and [livejournal.com profile] gnomi and inside were a pair of wonderful, stripey, 100% wool socks that [livejournal.com profile] gnomi had knitted for me! As you can see, they are awfully pretty, and I now have warm happy feet.




And tomorrow we're back to work. Things are pretty light right now, so I'm getting housework, tidying, and decluttering done between tasks, which is very satisfying. This won't last much longer, but I'm going to enjoy it while it does.

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