Wed Reading Meme and other things..

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:33 pm
shadowkat: (work/reading)
[personal profile] shadowkat
More other things...

1. A friend of mine on her FB page is having multiple heated discussions with various Doctor Who fans about well, a female Doctor Who. She's for it, of course, they aren't. Her discussions are reminiscent of the debates she had regarding Hillary and Trump.

She's a great debater. But people are...stubborn. Her best point was this Original Creator told BBC to cast Woman as Doctor in 1986.

Here's a link to an interesting article in The Mary Sue about negative female reactions to Doctor Who. And how ingrained misogyny is in our culture. I know it is, I've read a lot of romance novels and literary novels by female writers...and oh dear. Also, notably, I know a lot of men who are happy with Doctor Who being a Woman, voted for Hillary, and loved Wonder Woman, and a lot of women who need well a strong male lead and can't handle powerful women. I saw it in the Buffy fandom, Doctor Who fandom in regards to River Song, and Battle Star Galatica fandom in regards to Starbuck.

2. What I just finished reading?

King's Rising - The Captive Prince Part III and The Summer Palace by CS Pascat. Both were okay. Kings Rising was better. Summer Palace sort of works as a fanservice epilogue. Lots of boring sex, not a lot of story. I'd skip Summer Palace and just end with King's Rising.


What I'm reading now?

Lord of the Fading Lands by CL Wilson -- hmmm, apparently I'm on an initial kick.

This is fantasy, told in a fairy-tale style, with a romance at the center of it, at least for the first two books. The later three in the series apparently focus more on the battles and conflict apparently.

Not sure I'll make it that far. The writing style is not exactly captivating me. I'm having issues with how the writer perceives gender. Also she's very conventional, as is her story. It follows the established tropes.

That said, she says some interesting things about our culture, via fantasy, and is an excellent world-builder. From a thematic, world-building, and plot perspective, she's pretty good, somewhere in line with CS Lewis. And her style is in some respects similar to Anne McCaffrey. (I don't like Anne McCaffrey's writing style now, which is odd. I recently tried to re-read her Dragon Rider's of Pern series and gave up mid-way through. I have a feeling that I'd react the same way to CS Lewis. I loved both as a child, but now certain aspects of their writing and how they viewed gender, get on my nerves.)

I'm admittedly a little obsessed with gender issues at the moment. There's a reason for that -- points at current President, and last year's election.

3. Claws

Made it through five episodes of this series on "On Demand". (Adam Ruins the World -- almost ruined the episodes. He kept popping up in the commercial breaks -- which is every fifteen minutes for On Demand. And I kept muting him, because I cannot abide that man's voice. It's the human equivalent of nails on chalk board. Seriously, people, watch Bill Nye Science Guy instead of Adam. His show is on TruTV. The US has more television networks than it requires. I don't know, I think 1000 is a bit much, don't you?) BTW, the later episodes (of CLAWS not Adam) are really good. You sort of have to get past the introductory stuff...or I did. Actually this is true of most television shows. I rarely get hooked with the first episode. And when I do, the show tends to lose me after the third one.

I loved the fifth episode. Although, I feel a little guilty for loving it. It's hilarious in places.
There's this scene where ...you sort of have to see it for yourself. Too hard to explain. Oh and a great dance sequence to Lady Marmalade.

It also has a lovely twist, that had me giggling.

The series reminds me a lot of Breaking Bad -- except with a John Waters flair.

4. Struggling with a lot of things at the moment. I think I may have to go off fruit. Broke out in hives after having a dish of berries, truwhip cream and a little ice cream. Had the same thing last night, no issues. Not sure why I had a reaction tonight.

Super promises he'll paint the living room soon. Just hasn't happened yet. I'm waiting for it to get painted prior to doing anything else with it. I want a table so I can paint. I miss painting. I watercolor, not oil paint or not with acrylics. Although I have painted with acrylics in the past. Taught myself in my twenties. Just have had more watercolor courses and I'm more comfortable with the medium.

Considering taking another class -- but it meets on the upper East Side, and is at 6PM after work, and I just don't know if I can get there in time and if it's doable.

At loose ends. Want to do something, just not sure what. I want to paint, but do I really want to take a class? I need a table. I can't paint on my lap or the floor effectively. And I tend to spill things, so... Also, I have a bad back.

Also struggling with my novel. I don't really know why.
selenak: (Default)
[personal profile] selenak
For once, I manage to write my book reviews on a Wednesday.

Sam Bourne: To Kill the President

It was to be expected: the first Donald Trump era thriller (that I've read). Which takes full advantage of the fact that when previously any critic worth their salt would have complained about the one dimensional characterisation of the villains and the lack of realism in the US voting someone like that into power and then the Republican Party falling in line, followed by no checks and balances from any institution after even the Supreme Court caves due to the stolen seat being filled by the new President's choice, now all this looks like, well, realism.

Spoilers from an age where reality beggars caricature )


Philip Kerr: March Violets.

This is the first novel of a mystery series which I heard/read about via The New Yorker. The article in question was enthusiastic enought to overcome my instinctive squick at the premise, to wit: hard-boiled/noir detective novel set in the Third Reich. Basically, what if Philip Marlowe was German? Wandering those mean streets as a cynic with an ethical core takes a whole new meaning if the authories aren't just corrupt but a dictatorship preparing for war and genocide. Our hero is Bernie Gunther, former policeman who quit the force in 1933 for the obvious reason given that the novel positions he has ethics, and became a private investigator instead. Kerr serves up all the usual hard boiled/ noir tropes - untrustworthy millionaire clients, corrupt cops, shady dames -, complete with Chandleresque language, and he did his research - the novel's setting is Berlin in 1936, around the Olympic Games, and in addition to the well drawn Berlin geography, there are some great nods to Fritz Lang's movie M via some of the supporting cast, gangsters (given that Bernie Gunther originally gets hired to recover some diamonds, though of course it turns out it's far more complicated and what everyone is after is something else altogether. The brief appearances by historic figures (Göring and Heydrich, to be precise) are drawn credibly, which is to say their vileness comes across without Kerr employing sledge-hammery moustache twirling; in fact, he uses Göring's bonhommie manners to make him chilling.

As opposed to To Kill a President, this actually is a good novel. But. I still struggle somewhat with the basic premise. This is the first novel of what according ot the New Yorker article I'd read are twelve so far, and already I'm having to suspend disbelief about Bernie's continued survival. There's no reason why Heydrich at the end of this first novel shouldn't have gotten him killed, for example. And since we're in 1936, Bernie would still have the possibility to leave the country, and given what happens to him in this novel, it's hard to wonder why he doesn't, given he has no dependants who'd suffer for it. Yes, the decision to emigrate wasn't as easy as hindsight would have it if you weren't rich and didn't have friends abroad, but again, some truly harrowing things happen to Bernie in this novel which would serve as an incentive to get the hell out of Germany if ever there was one beyond the general situation of the country.

With this caveat, I'll keep reading.

(no subject)

Jul. 18th, 2017 10:18 pm
shadowkat: (Default)
[personal profile] shadowkat
Whoa...HT to yourlibrarian for this link regarding how actors and filmmakers cope with enacting rape on screen . Made me rethink a couple of films I've seen and how I viewed psuedo rape scenes. For example there's a scene in LAST TANGO IN PARIS, that I didn't realize was rape, but the actress experienced as rape and it tramuatized her. Also, various actors who had to portray the rapist relate how taxing it was on them emotionally and mentally, along with the editors and film crew.

Reminds me of something James Marsters stated that haunted me. How he unraveled after being forced to do the attempted rape scene in Buffy. And how he'd had a nervous breakdown...in part because of it.

Yet, 46.7% of the scripts that the writer of the article has read, contained rape scenes. I have to admit, I stopped watching criminal procedurals and series like Supernatural after a bit, because I got tired of the sexual violence. They all have it. Every singled one. It's ...exhausting.

There's a very interesting section in the article concerning Ned Beatty, who states:


In the spring of 1989, actor Ned Beatty penned an op-ed column for The New York Times, writing, "If [men] felt we could truly be victims of rape, that fear would be a better deterrent [for committing rape] than the death penalty."

Beatty most famously played Bobby, a character who is brutally raped by a hillbilly in John Boorman's tense thriller Deliverance (1972). They rehearsed for days and finally completed the scene in a four-minute shot that would forever change Beatty's life. After the film's release, wherever the actor went, strangers would guffaw and yell, "Squeal like a pig," a line uttered by Bobby's rapist. Beatty was continually struck by these cold displays from fans. They seemed to expect him to smile and chat after they'd gleefully demeaned him in reference to a sexual assault.

"He felt like a rape victim," Boorman said later in commentary for the DVD of the film. It had never crossed Beatty's mind that he would become a public spokesman for sexual-assault awareness, but the experience reshaped his psyche, and he was forced to confront what we now call rape culture.


Some day, I'll have to watch Deliverance, never been able to get myself to see it all the way through. Just seen sections of it.

Fascinating article, recommend reading it all the way through, particularly if you are at all interested in film.

Spider-man: Homecoming (Film Review)

Jul. 18th, 2017 05:43 pm
selenak: (Henry Hellrung by Imaginary Alice)
[personal profile] selenak
Okay, that's it. As Civil War made me suspect, Tom Holland is my platonic ideal of Peter Parker, at least in his teenage phase. Also, while I had liked the first Raimi/Maguire movie and parts of the rest while increasingly disliking other parts of those films, and liked the first Garfield without thinking it needed to exist while extremly disliking the second one, this latest cinematic go at Spidey was a complete delight to me and I love it.

Ramblings beneath the cut )

Photobucket

Jul. 18th, 2017 06:30 am
cactuswatcher: (Default)
[personal profile] cactuswatcher
I've been recommending Photobucket for people who wanted to post pictures here. Unfortunately, Photobucket has decided to to make their users pay a large fee per month for the ability to do that. Sorry! I guess nothing lasts forever. I probably will not be posting any more pictures here myself.

Martin Landau (1928 - 2017)

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:29 am
cjlasky7: (Default)
[personal profile] cjlasky7
Martin Landau died last night at the ripe old age of 89.

He had a brilliant career. A supporting role in Hitchcock's "North By Northwest" at the start, TV stardom (Mission: Impossible, Space: 1999) in the middle, Oscar glory (as Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood") in his golden years.

For fans of science fiction and fantasy, his roles in the original Outer Limits (especially "The Man Who Was Never Born") still linger, even 50 years later.

Landau may have been the most indelible non-Woody Allen protagonist in a Woody Allen movie ("Crimes and Misdemeanors").

But I guess why I'm commenting on Landau here is that I once had a rare chance to meet the man and compliment him on his work. He was warm, gracious and appreciative. It was a genuine thrill.

Doctor Who and Orphan Black 5.06.

Jul. 17th, 2017 02:03 pm
selenak: (Missy by Yamiinsane123)
[personal profile] selenak
Spoilery Doctor Who talk about the big casting spoiler. )

On to Orphan Black. Which was a good spy hijinks hour that moved the plot forward.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Jul. 16th, 2017 05:49 pm
shadowkat: (Default)
[personal profile] shadowkat
1. Hmmm..they finally did it... 13th Doctor Who is Jodie Whittaker, first female version of the Doctor.

I admit that I'd sort of given up after Capadali became the Doctor, and quit watching for a while. Because honestly what is interesting about an old guy escorting a young gal about time and space

I came back for Pearl Mackie, who portrayed Bill.

So I find this intriguing. There's so much more they can do now. So many story angles that they haven't tried that opened up. It's basically made the series fresh, and more interesting, and more appealing to newer viewers like myself. Not to mention more relateable.

Now, if someone would just replace the American President with a woman, life would be good.

2. Tried Salvation -- sigh. An arrogant billionaire techie, a MIT Whiz-kid hipster, and a pentagon press secretary save the world. This time from a planet killing meteor, at least they think it is a planet-killing meteor. And a government conspiracy. Because of course the scientists at NASA and the State Department are too stupid to figure out how to save the world on their own, they require the aid of a corporate techie who runs a billion dollar corporation (think younger/hotter version of the guy doing SpaceX) and a whiz-kid. And course the government is killing anyone who finds out to prevent a panic...

Five minutes in and it felt very paint-by-numbers thriller, with a lot of pop science thrown in.
It could be fun, I usually like these things. But the characters are too stock and the casting isn't on target.

It feels like the networks are burning off pilots this summer.

3. Still Star-Crossed -- is hard to find. If I wasn't recording it, I wouldn't be able to follow it at all. ABC clearly has no confidence in it, and is pushing reality shows instead like (gag) The Bachelorette, and Battle of the Network Stars (are there any? I was wondering about this. It's not like the 1970s and 80s, when they used to do Battle of the Network Stars during the summer months...when there were only five or six channels and actual network television stars. Now, with over 450 scripted television series, there are no stars.)

Still Star Crossed was on at 10 PM on Sat. It isn't on Monday, because Battle of the Network Stars took it's time slot, and the Bachelorette has been expanded to a full two hours. Somehow, I don't think Still Star Crossed is long for this world, it feels like they are just burning episodes.

4. Hooten and the Lady -- this is on CW, and I have no idea how it got that far. It's atrocious. About a female archeologist, office worker, who works at the British Museum, and convinces the Museum to send her to the Amazon to hunt down some ancient relics for a big exhibition. (Don't they already have archaeologists doing this sort of thing under grants?) She runs into a mercenary, who goes by the name Hooten. (I'm serious he actually only goes by that name, and apparently by choice.) They run into each other, when they are captured by a bunch of natives, who want to roast her and use him as a sex slave. Unless he can challenge their warrior to a fight, and win. He wins.
The natives chase him and her out of their territory. I stopped shortly after that. I kept going to sleep.

Could not stay awake during it. But I couldn't stay focused on or awake during the first episode of Fargo either...

I think the networks are burning off bad television shows right now. Not Fargo, obviously. Hooten and the Lady.
cjlasky7: (Default)
[personal profile] cjlasky7
Jodie Whittaker! (aka, Beth Latimer of Broadchurch)

Well, bless my soul, the DW brain trust finally broke the mold.

This move makes perfect sense in a number of ways:

1. Incoming show runner Chris Chibnall has a Doctor he's worked with for three full series. He knows her range and dramatic capabilities. Ditto she with him.

2. Instant BBC ratings grabber for Series 11 in 2018.

3. Perfect capper for the Moffat era. Moffat has made a point of breaking down gender barriers/stereotypes, especially in S10, and the Doctor turning female is the final step in that process.

Some naysayers have complained that a female Doctor wouldn't command authority in time periods where women have no power. For a good writer, that's not a problem--that's an opportunity.

Versailles (Season 2)

Jul. 16th, 2017 04:09 pm
selenak: (Max by Misbegotten)
[personal profile] selenak
Since the other Borgias left me in the mood for over the top historical melodrama, and since it was available, I marathoned the second season of Versailles. (My first season review is here.) Aka, the show with the general accuracy of The Tudors (which is to say more than than the all around anachronistic crack like Reign, but generally not that much, though the occasional clever use of historical fact actually happens), produced by Canal just as Borgia, with the main selling point to internet fandom that there’s canon m/m prominently featured, courtesy of Louis XIV.’s brother Philippe d’Orleans, aka Monsieur, played by the increasingly gorgeous Alexander Vlahos. The second season tackles the affair of the poisons, one of the most notorious events in the reign of Louis XIV., but just as it did in the first season with just about any historic event fictionalizes the hell out of it, including, mystifyingly, changing the name of the main supplier of the poisons in question. Instead of La Voisin (first name Catherine), we have “Madame Agathe”. (Otoh the black mass celebrating renegade priest gets to stay Father Etienne Guibourg, which means the first time he is introduced in a seemingly benign undercover identity, the more historically versed parts of the audience know who he is and what he’s infamous for.) In terms of historical characters, we also get introduced to the delightful Liselotte von der Pfalz, the Princess Palatinate, and may I say that I was hugely relieved the Versailles version is great, because the original is one of my favourite figures of the era, due to all those vivid letters she penned for the folks back home, and as Versailles’ first season unfortunately reduced Monsieur’s first wife Henriette to a very passive, agenda-less character, which the original definitely was not, I was a bit afraid something similar might happen to Liselotte, the second Madame. But no. She’s blunt, no-nonsense, determined to make the best of a bad situation, as all versions of Liselotte should be. (Mind you, this show still obeys the Hollywood rule of plain and beauty, so when Monsieur’s lover, the Chevalier de Lorraine, ridicules Liselotte’s fashion and looks, it’s not clear what he’s on about since the actress is pretty – whereas historical Liselotte cheerfully admitted to her plainness in youth and weathered stoutness in age, comparing her looks as a middleaged woman to a roasted pig – and so is her wardrobe.)

On to more spoilery musings beneath the cut. )

Claws - Television Review

Jul. 15th, 2017 09:54 pm
shadowkat: (Default)
[personal profile] shadowkat
Finally got around to watching Claws on Demand. (The problem with On Demand is you can't fast forward over the commercials, and I binge watched the first four episodes. At some point, I got hooked on it, because I was willing to put up with the extremely annoying "Adam Ruins the World" commercial breaks. I don't know, I think I'd have preferred watching this on Amazon Prime. The commercial breaks are annoying.)

Anyhow, Claws is sort of a female version of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul", except the protagonist is more sympathetic and likable. It's a bit over the top in places, and reminds me a great deal of the Carl Hiaasen novels that I'd read several years ago. Hiaasen sort of is Florida's answer to Elmore Leonard. With quirky characters, a noirish setting, and an absurdist somewhat black sense of humor.

Took me a little while to get into it, but, after awhile, I began to fall for the female characters. (The only weakness in the series is the male characters...who, well, to be fair that's the opposite of the weakness in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, which are the female characters. So I found this sort of a breath of fresh air in that regard. It's nice to female centric series in this genre finally.)

The story is about a nail salon owner in a Southern Florida strip mall, who is laundering money for the Dixie Mafia. Desna dreams of owning a nice big nail salon, and then a franchise. Having a nice place. And getting out from under the mob boss who has her by the purse strings. Along with Desna, big black and beautiful, are her gals, who are a bit of a family within the salon. Polly, portrayed by Carrie Preston, has just gotten out of prison and is con artist. Jenny is big and blond, married to one of the Mob boss's sons, and is trying to keep her husband out of the mob. Quiet Anne is a lesbian, and Hispanic. Virgina, Ginny Lock, is the new gal, who is Asian, and makes the colossal mistake of sleeping with the Mob Boss's older son, who Desna is also sleeping with.

The Mob Boss is portrayed by Dean Norris, who was Hank on Breaking Bad. And Harold Perrineau from "Lost" portrays Dean, Desna's autistic brother, who is a bit of savant, but with a mind of a child.

After a while, I started to fall for Desna and root for her to achieve her dream, no matter how impossible it seems. All of these women feel stuck and are trying desperately to get unstuck. (Although I think if they found a way to get rid of Uncle Daddy, Dean Norris' mob boss, that might help.)

It is over-the-top in places, and crude in others...similar to John Waters style of humor or Jonathan Demme. But the characterizations, plotting and world are rather well done.

The only problem is to get caught up, you have to watch it on demand and put up with that Annoying Adam Ruins the World commercials. However, new episodes are on TNT on Sunday at 9PM. If you liked Breaking Bad, Cybil, Absolutely Fabulous, or series similar to that, or say Weeds, you should try this. Actually think Breaking Bad meets Absolutely Fabulous and Weeds by way of John Waters and Carl Hiaasen.

I've decided to add it to my DVR recording. Because now I'm hooked and want to know if the ladies survive Uncle Daddy and manage to achieve their dreams.

Nominations and observations

Jul. 15th, 2017 12:32 pm
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
[personal profile] selenak
Emmmy nominations: as a fan of The Americans, I'm pleased that Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Alison Wright were all three recognized at last. Will root for them accordingly, which is all the easier since frustratingly, Bates Motel' final year went without an Emmy nomination again. Freddy Highmore has been fantastic throughout, and especially in this last installment where the show had to at last enter the same narrative territory as Psycho, and succeeded with flying colours, very much because young Highmore has managed to make an iconic role his own. (Very Farmiglia would have deserved nominations in all preceeding years, but I can understand she didn't get one this year, since she played "only" Mother, not Norma anymore.) My loyalties might be slightly split for best actor because of Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul, and I'd be happy if he wins, too, but if I had to decide and push came to shove, I'd go with Rhys over Odenkirk. Speaking of Better Call Saul, I call fail on the nomination of Jonathan Banks for best supporting actor over Michael McKean (Chuck). Or for that matter Michael Mando (who plays Nacho). Look, I get the Mike cult, and Banks is always solid, but Mike really did not have all that much to do this season. Whereas Nacho got core emotional dilemma stuff, and the actor rose to the task. And McKean may have played the most disliked character on the show, but I don't think the most fervent Chuck hater on the planet would dispute he did so amazingly, and this season, it was a lynchpin performance, with Chicanery and the s3 finale as the two particularly outstanding episodes in this regard. As for the utter lack of nomination for Rhea Seahorn as Kim, don't get me started. Though, again: makes it easier to root wholeheartedly for Keri Russell and for Alison Wright in their respective categories.

_____

Yesterday there was a lengthy interview with Christopher Nolan in one of my regular papers, apropos his upcoming movie Dunkirk. Two issues caught my particular attention: a) he mentions having written the script for a movie about Howard Hughes, only to be foiled by the Scorsese/Di Caprio movie "Aviator", which made it unlikely for a few years studios would finance another movie about Hughes, and now when the time would have been right again, Warren Beatty struck first and made Hughes a non-subject for a few years more. But, quoth Nolan, he hasn't given up and swears this script is the best he ever wrote. To channel some writerly frustration, he added, he put some of his Howard Hughes characterisation into Bruce Wayne in his three Batman movies. And suddenly Bruce's utterly self indulgent hermit phase between movies II and III as well as his bizarre rewriting on why things didn't work out with Rachel in I as voiced by him in II appears in a new light. :) Or maybe Howard Hughes' decades in Las Vegas hotel rooms do - clearly the cover for a secret vigilante identity. Come to think of it, old Hughes sueing unauthorized biographers does resemble the Frank Miller version of Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Returns somewhwat, no?

Anyway: b) the other particularly interesting-to-me Nolan statement was that in preparation for Dunkirk, he watched All Quiet on the Western Front (classic 1930 film version of Erich Maria Remarque's WWI novel, directed by Lewis Milestone) and was amazed such a movie was possible in 1930. But, says Nolan, it probably only was because it was an American movie based on a German novel, because an American director would never have presented American soldiers in this way, and the Germans wouldn't have made the movie to begin with, "so hooray for one culture speaking for another in this case", ends Nolan. Thinking about it, I concluded he was right that the German film industry would not have made All Quiet on the Western Front in the early 1930s - the book had been a big bestseller in Germany, but the movies were utterly dominated by the UFA by then, and the UFA was owned by Alfred Hugenberg, hardcore conservative who'd go on to support Hitler in his 1932 and 1933 election campaigns. As it was Goebbels orchestrated an anti All Quiet on the Western Front campaign when the movie was released in Germany - SA guys loudly protesting in the cinemas, white mice released, I kid you not -with the result that the movie was quickly withdrawn and most Germans saw it only once the Third Reich had come and gone. (My paternal grandparents back in the day did see it in the cinema, but they had to travel to Belgium to do so, which they did because not only did Granddad own the book, but he regarded it as a matter of local pride - he was born and raised just a few streets away from where Remarque, the author, had been born and raised in Osnabrück. And my grandfather, who'd lost his father in WWI when he, Granddad, was still a toddler, always regarded the book as a way to figure out what his father might have been like.)

Last year, when I heard a lecture by Elizabeth Bronfen on war movies in Zurich, she compared the aesthetic and thematic treatment of All Quiet on the Western Front with what WWII movies and news reels quickly established as standard in US movies, and it really is strikingly different. Not being an expert on war movies, my lay woman opinion would be Nolan is right in the American part of his statement as well, that an American movie about US soldiers like All Quiet on the Western Front at the time and for some time to come would never have been made. Probably not until the genre of Vietnam movies started, and that came and went again; more recent US movies, no matter about which war, which present US soldiers being lured into a war by propaganda and then fighting pointless battles and dying with no heroic justification or reward whatsoever (i.e. not even saving a comrade's life or turning a battle, or getting an epilogue declaring that their cause lives on or their sacrifice is remembered or what not), don't come to mind, either. Or am I missing something?

Hmmm..about television cliffhangers..

Jul. 14th, 2017 11:19 pm
shadowkat: (tv slut)
[personal profile] shadowkat
Cliff Hangers Are Ruining the Golden Age of Television

Although, actually, I think it's more than just cliff-hangers. But, the writer addresses something that's been bugging me for some time now -- the need for television serials to have "shock value" twist or "big plot twists" often at the expense of character and plot, just to grab ratings. It's a current phenomenon. As in post 2000. I don't remember seeing it as much pre-2000.

As seasons advance, a fantastic series can get indefensibly artificial, running on fumes and cliffhangers, until “Who will die?” is the main reason to watch. Part of artistry is to elicit an emotional response; but to elicit and elicit (and elicit) is commercialism.

Agonizing is not the same as being left in suspense, and a constant state of cliffhanger suspense gets boring. For example, the point of “House of Cards” — created after Netflix collected and analyzed subscriber data, then synthesized our tastes to guarantee our obsession — has become to watch more of “House of Cards,” a point I’ve taken to heart.

So it’s the golden age of television with an asterisk. Now TV can be surveyed and engineered. Now it’s art by algorithm, with artistry going with the whim of data analytics and gimmicks.

I wonder if, in some way, we’ve spoiled our appetite for artistry.

Maybe artistry has gone down and cliffhangers have skyrocketed because art gets us out of the house. Art puts us more in touch with life outside and doesn’t compel us with cosmic force to actively submit, to alternate between trance and withdrawal, between replenishment and exhaustion.

But streaming as a medium and cliffhangers as a tool haven’t turned us into fanatics. Rather, it’s the behavior and attitude toward our lives that media consumption has been orchestrated to encourage. Bingeing, aided by cliffhangers, sells engagement by way of disengaging; together they make a sport of spectatorship.

Most of us can’t stand an open narrative loop, so we persevere and sprint back to our devices, again and again. Cliffhangers deny us resolution and closure so that we may never find peace, may not turn off the machine, may continually dissolve into some violent or exotic disaster involving a volcano.


I think a lot of what the critic states is true, and she's seen more television shows than I have. What I know is that over time, I've become underwhelmed and almost immune to the shocking plot twist. In some cases, such as Scandal and Grey's I find myself waiting for it.

Nashville has started to impress me a little by swinging away from it, well for the most part.
There was that one shocking plot twist...the big character death. Reminiscent of The Good Wife's big character death, except the Good Wife did a better job of keeping theirs a secret.

Also, big character deaths happen a lot in television serials, due to the actors pesky habit of wanting to leave the television serial before it has completed its run. The writers aren't left with a lot of options. Because with few exceptions, actors don't tend to tell them years in advance, so much as weeks in advance. It's sort of like giving two weeks notice for a job your leaving, except your job is a major television show and you play one of the major characters or leads. Whoops.

This is why I don't get that angry at the writers. Usually, I just think, damn, I liked that character. Sometimes it is story dictated, but in the cases of Grey's Anatomy, the Good Wife, and Nashville, really not.

But the cliffhanger ending, particularly at the end of a season arc, or even worse as a series finale, is irritating. Joss Whedon did it with several of his television series. Granted he wasn't given a lot of choices, since the network ended his series before he was ready.

You'd think television writers would pre-plan for the eventuality of cancellation and just write a season ender that can double as a series ender. Sort of like what Once Upon a Time did.

But going back to the above article? This is why a lot of people, such as my parents, prefer episodic television series which can't be easily binged, and are wrapped up in one or two episodes, tops.
Less commitment of time and energy.

I'm admittedly addicted to the cliff-hanger format. I like binge-watching. TV turns off my busy brain effectively. So too does reading a book. Which is why I love both pursuits. Writing also keeps the busy brain active.

But, I have fallen into the trap of...just one more episode, and I'll stop. I did that with Sense 8 and Iron Fist. And Iron Fist wasn't even that good, but...I thought, just one more episode then I'll stop... eight hours later, frigging hell, where'd the weekend go!!!

I think the writer has a point about there being a sort of artistry in the slow build, in forgoing the cliffhanger. Cliffhangers used to be associated with pulpier fare such as those Saturday Maintainees way back when, before I was born, which Spielberg and Lucas paid homage to with Indiana Jones. Or daytime soap operas, which always ended on a cliff-hanger on Friday, leaving the audience sputtering over the weekend. Not so much any more -- due to pre-emptions.

But with the insane amount of cultural media available, audience's are less patient. So the slower build or more artistic series are often left by the wayside. I know I'm guilty of this, I didn't have the patience for Rectified or Left-Overs. Preferring faster paced and pulpier fare. But this too has to a degree always been the case. Many of us worker bees want the thrill ride, the roller-coaster, and then the ability to let it go. The appeal of the commuter fast paced novel to the literary work of art.

Although, then again...whose to say what is art? Or what moves us? Or informs us? I no longer know.
I've read more books than I can count or even remember, and I've gained something from them all, along with television series, of which I've seen just about as many. Some stay with me, some don't.
I can't really say any more which is quality and which isn't for certain. So much as I think it is in the eye of the beholder.

I am critical of things I love. I am trying to be less so. Since I've noticed it doesn't make me happy always. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.
shadowkat: (tv slut)
[personal profile] shadowkat
1.) Just finished watching the two episode season premiere of the new TNT series Will which airs at 9/10 pm on I think, Monday nights.

It's surprisingly good. If you enjoy Shakespeare, are interested in theater and how it is created, love poetry slams, and ahem, pretty men, not to mention a few pretty and strong women, this is the show for you. (It does, however, feel a bit like I'm watching Shakespeare in Love meets the Protestant Inquisition by way of Slings and Arrows. With a 1980s British Pop Rock soundtrack. The Clash's London Calling was playing in the background. Not that I mind, I happen to like the Clash.)

"Will" takes place in Elizabethan England, and follows the escapades of a young William Shakespeare who has journeyed to London to make his fortune as a playwright, against his family's wishes. He's married to Anne Hathaway, with three children, and is Catholic. With a job as a glove maker. His devout parents want him to take a message to his cousin, a Catholic rebel, Robert Sutcliff, placing his own life in danger in the process. So off he goes, and well the message doesn't get to Sutcliff because a young street kid, slashes his hand and steals it. The kid hopes to sell it to Tomkins, one of her Majesty's agents, to save olderhis sister from a brothel. Tompkins is a nasty piece of work, a Cromwellian Protestant, who tortures people for being Catholics, instead of the true Protestant faith.

Will is torn between two worlds, his duty as a Catholic and to his wife and family, and his art and dreams of being a successful playwright. His wife is less than enthusiastic regarding his artistic dreams, and wishes he'd settle down as a tailor and support the family. But in London he's found a tribe of like-minded spirits, and in Christopher Marlow, a tempting devil.

This sounds more hokey than it actually is. Because all of the above is sort of in the background. Front and center is the Burbidge theater troop's struggle to become successful and avoid bankruptcy.
It also serves as the conflict in Shakespeare, who is guilt-ridden for doing what he feels driven to do. At one he tells Marlow that what he most wants is freedom. Marlow's response is to gleefully kiss him.
Read more... )

2. Update on my bathroom ceiling. After a difficult work day, in which various co-workers half convinced me that no work would get done on my ceiling this weekend and I should be hunting a way out of my lease...I came home to a pleasant surprise, my super had come in and completed his work on my ceiling patching it up and scraping away the peeling paint. He also patched up the living wall a bit and scraped away the bubbled and peeling paint. Readying it for a new paint job.

Silly co-workers.

Note to self - stop venting about things at work. It's hard, there's a limited amount of things I can discuss with various co-workers.

3. Reading this funky fantasy series, that's won all sorts of romantic fantasy awards, but has a rather juvenile writing style -- in that it reminds me a bit too much of stuff that I wrote when I was 17. Except my writing was a little less hyperbolic. However, the world building is excellent, and the detail is consistent and logical. It also builds plot. So...not sure what to make of it.
usedtobeljs: (What Would Donna Do by Omphalos)
[personal profile] usedtobeljs
It's been announced that this Sunday, after the Wimbledon men's championship, the new Doctor will be introduced.

I have the following thoughts:

1) I know, intellectually, that it is time for P Cap and S Moffat to go. But I am not looking forward to Chibnall as show runner, and I am very very worried about who will be the next Doctor.

2) This worry is displacement for larger political and personal worries, I assure you. But still.

3) I DON'T WANT IT TO BE KRIS MARSHALL. He seems like a lovely chap, but NO NO NO.

4) I have a list of white boys I'd like to see as the Doctor, but really, I don't think it's the time.

5) Am sad that Adrian Lester has taken himself out of the running, but then I want him to be Aziraphale in Gaiman's Good Omens miniseries anyway.

6) I will be traveling (back to see my father, who is lingering on despite all odds) during the announcement and that is also stressing me out.

In conclusion, P Cap.

Hugs to all!
cjlasky7: (Default)
[personal profile] cjlasky7
The actor (or actress) playing the thirteenth incarnation of the Doctor will be announced on the BBC after the Wimbledon final on Sunday. (There is no truth to the rumor that Doctor #13 will immediately go to work fighting sentient, table-sized blancmanges from the planet Skyron who have threatened to hijack the tournament...)

Birthday Girl!!!

Jul. 13th, 2017 05:11 am
masqthephlsphr: (vincent)
[personal profile] masqthephlsphr
Happy Birthday, [profile] astrogirl2!!!

Wed Reading Meme

Jul. 12th, 2017 08:57 pm
shadowkat: (work/reading)
[personal profile] shadowkat
1. What I just finished reading?

Kings Rising - Book 3 of The Captive Prince by CS Pascat

Your_Librarian has actually written a thorough and detailed review of this book, HERE. Which I pretty much agree with.

The only difference between us, is I've read a lot of romance novels, f/m and m/m, and I think one f/f, published, fanfiction, etc...so picked up right off the bat some of the romance conventions.

Kings Rising, as previously stated, is the third book in a series of novels that were initially written as a web serial on the author's live journal blog. This is important to note, because the series has some of the same failings as a lot of WIP "romantic" or "shipper" focused fan-fic, and romance novels.

By that, I mean, the writer adheres to a couple of romance novel conventions that unfortunately don't necessarily serve her story that well. She also goes out of her way to put the leads in romantic and/or sexual situations, that do little to drive the story or characters forward, and in some places grind the action to a halt. There's a few sequences that make no sense from a plot and character stand-point. I can almost hear the characters standing on the side lines protesting -- "wait! There is no way I'd bring a Sword into Kings Meet, or attack any one there, I'm not an idiot." Or "why in the hell, would I enter a tournament or even agree to hold one, when we are at war, with three unstable armies, and I've been injured? You nit witty writer!"

The reason romance writers and fanfic writers often do this is to cater to their readership, which expects adherence to these conventions, and wants certain things from the book or story. (I can't help but respect writers who tell their readers and fans to go screw themselves. And just write the story. Which is actually what literary writers and the sci-fi, noir, mystery and action genres tend to do. Hence the reason romance and romantic fanfic get such a bad rap. There's something to be said for the axion, give the audience/reader what they need not what they want. In other words tell the story, ignore the readership. Or as Stephen King put it once, if it doesn't serve your story or your characters, ax it.)

It's probably worth noting that this series is actually just a romance novel set in historical fantasy setting similar to ancient Greece and Rome. (It just happens to be between men instead of male/female. I'd say it was an LGBTQ romance, except I'm pretty certain the intended audience is heterosexual women. I don't really envision gay men reading and enjoying this, or gay women for that matter. Although I could be wrong about that.) So some of this probably can be hand-waved, since that's what the story is. It's not a fantasy series or historical series, but a romance, with the central bit -- being the romance and HEA between the two leads. Everything else is window dressing.

Which is the problem with it. It starts out as being a bit more than that...a fantasty history romance novel that focuses on things outside of the romance, and appears to have something to say.
But somewhere along the line that gets lost and as a result so does much of what made this story interesting and unique. At least to me.

It was okay, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone. If you read the series, you might want to stop with book 2. Which I thought had an interesting and thought-provoking ending.

What I'm reading now?

The Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson -- interesting book, so far. It's a romantic fantasy. Emphasis on well both. The author unlike Pascat, above, is spending a lot of time building her world, and on developing various characters. It also has more than one point of view, or mulitple point of views -- third person close.

The heroine is not physically strong, rather confused, and has a disability of sorts. As a baby she was found and adopted by a handicapped wood-carver and his wife. Who were poor. But after adopting her, he became healed somehow. Also the child, Ellie, started having horrible night tremors and seizures. Being somewhat superstitious, her adoptive parents took her to the church, where they attempted to exorcise her of demons. Luckily they didn't decide to leave her there, and took her home and prayed. Eventually she learned to control her rages and emotions, along with the seizures, so they weren't as noticeable, and they appeared to go away. Her adoptive mother believed this was due to her accepting the Lord of Light as her savior, and being confirmed in the Church of Light.

Now, at 24, her parents fear she is to be forever unwed. This takes place in a medieval setting, where the system is somewhat feudal in nature, and most of the people are uneducated, and superstitious. Women get married around 18 or 16 is the norm. She has two sisters, who aren't adopted, and rather young, and the local Butcher's son, whom she despises and for good reason, is attempting to woo her. The one time they are left in a room together, he bites and sucks her neck, mauls her breasts, and shoves his tongue down her throat. Repulsed and frightened, she cries out in pain.

And is heard by Rain, The Tairyn Soul. King of the Light Fey. He's an ancient Fey Lord, who lost his truemate (soul mate) thousands of years ago. The Fey are for the most part immortal. And he's very powerful. He turns into a giant black cat with lavender eyes and black taloned wings (like a bats).
He's trying to save his kind. So seeks guidance from the Eye of the Oracle, which shows him a woman's face and the town he despises. (The town is where Ellie resides.) Thousands of years ago when his first truemate died, murdered by Dark Mages, he almost destroyed the world in a wild rampage of grief. The Light Fey are dying off. Fading.

Rain hears Ellie cry out in his soul and searches for her, no idea who she is. But knowing that now, a thousand years later, he's found, against all odds, another truemate.

Well, maybe. He has to woo her and win her first. It's complicated. And he's rather scary. Granted so is the Butcher Boy. In Ellie prays to the Gods to send her anyone but the Butcher boy, but I think she was thinking more in lines of a nice kind man who sells cloth or cuts wood.

There's a fairy-tale aspect to the story, which I rather like. It does have Cinderella vibe, although I don't see any wicked stepmothers -- unless her adoptive mother is wicked in attempting to marry her off to the first promising suitor available.

The writing is rather hyperbolic in places. I keep envisioning exclamation marks. Look, I'm EPIC! But I don't mind it, it's sort of fun and doesn't require much focus.

3. I've gone on another book buying spree at Amazon. They keep having sales, I keep buying books.

The latest? A vampire novel by Octavia Butler, entitled "Fledging" for $3.99.

I also have Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human, which was on sale for $1.99.

I keep collecting genre books. I'm flirting with Americanh, which is not a genre book, and Church may be doing it as a book club selection.

My Morning Cereal

Jul. 12th, 2017 11:00 am
cjlasky7: (Default)
[personal profile] cjlasky7
Ganked from anne1962 and cactuswatcher:

I have a very specific cereal ritual:

1/2 serving Kellogg's Crispix
1/2 serving Kellogg's Mueslix

Mix well. 2% milk only. (Whole milk is too fatty, 1% is too watery.) Will occasionally add banana, strawberry or blueberry, but this is not essential.

And yes, I have a "special" bowl.

(no subject)

Jul. 11th, 2017 05:09 pm
cactuswatcher: (Default)
[personal profile] cactuswatcher
from [personal profile] mamculuna

What's your favorite cereal? Something with oats. Honeynut Cherrios, Honeybunches of Oats with almonds, oatmeal...

Is there a bus stop near your house? As the crow flies it's not far. Considering how far I'd have to walk around to get to it, it's far. Worse the bus doesn't go any place I'd be interested in going.

Do you prefer red wine or white wine? I'm not fond of red. Rosè is nice. I used to drink Riesling about as frequently as any other wine.

What's the last airport you were at? Why were you there? Phoenix Skyharbor. Comin' home.

Who do you live with? Sirius Black, the kitty cat.

Do you read reddit? If so, how often and what subreddits do you like? Nope, the things I've heard about it were discouraging.

Have you recently broken up with a significant other or even just a friend? Nope.

What's the weather like today? Is it nice enough to go outside? It's 102F and thunderstorms possible. Compared to the 119F a couple weeks ago, it is relatively nice.

Do you know anyone who's had a baby recently? Grandnieces.

Have you used a pen or pencil today? What did you write down? Oddly, no.

What does your last text message say and who is it from? I don't own a cell phone.

Can you count how many times you've seen your favorite film? No, but probably seven or eight times.

When was the last time you ate marshmallows? By themselves, decades ago. In hot chocolate last winter some time.

Do you listen to any podcasts? How do you listen to them? Yes and no. I start listening on the computer through twitch.tv, but usually don't stay long.

How old will you be in the year 2030? Ten years older than I will be in 2020!

How often does the kettle in your house get used? In the summer never, in the winter about once a day.

Does your skin bruise easily? Do you have any bruises right now? What from? I bruise mostly from bumping into things, but I don't think I have any at the moment. I probably have a few cat claw marks.

What was the last thing you spent $150 or more on? A new refrigerator.

Do you prefer yes or no questions or more open-ended questions? Depends on the circumstances.

What brand of toilet paper do you usually buy? Most recently I bought Charmin. I probably got a deal.

If I knocked on your door right now, would you be acceptably dressed? Depends on who you are and what you wanted, but generally, today, yes.

Why did you leave your last job? I retired.

What color were the last socks you wore? Blue, I'm still wearing them.

Are you studying currently? What level of education and what do you study? I suppose you could call my continuing work with the Russian Language studying. I have an M.A. in Slavic Studies, and did everything but finish a dissertation for a PhD in Russian Linguistics.

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant and left without paying? Lot's of times. Without anyone in the party paying for us? Never!

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud? That last question.

What's your favorite scent of air freshener? It's called fresh air. Can't open the window for it tonight because it's too hot and we might have a dust storm!

How many weddings have you ever been to? A dozen maybe.

Do you know anyone named Nora? I really like the name, but I think the closest I came to knowing one was a Nola.

Are your hands and feet in good condition or could you do with a mani-pedi? If you think a mani-pedi improves the *condition* of one's hands and feet, I think you are mistaken. Improving the looks is a different matter, and I think I'm lacking enough vanity to care what my feet look like.

When was the last time you played a board game? What did you play? A few weeks ago. Actually it's a card game. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. Cooperative, challenging and fun.

Have you ever been to a festival for beer or other type of alcohol? Yep, Oktoberfest in St. Louis.

Do you own a record player and/or vinyls? I have the records and they are in good shape, but haven't had a record player in ages.

When was the last time you went out for drinks? I don't think I've gone out just for drinks since grad school.

Have you ever been to a strip club? No, if you ever saw the outside of one of them in daylight when you were sober, you likely wouldn't go in at night when you were drunk.

What's your favorite kind of smoothie? I have to admit I've never been tempted to drink a smoothie. I like fruit and vegetables unsmooshed just fine.

Do you know anyone with a 'virtue name'? (Google it) I knew a young guy named Pride and a young woman named Prudence. The guy liked his name; the woman did not like hers.

Would you ever wear real authentic leather? I still own leather dress shoes and only have genuine leather belts. With all that beef being slaughtered, it would seem a giant waste to not do something useful with the hides.

Have you taken out the trash today? No, trash set-out evening is tomorrow! I did bag up and take out some kitty litter, early today. Does that count?

How often do you wear make-up? About as often as I star in Broadway plays.

What's your opinion on The Simpsons? It's about as dumb as Homer. I haven't watched a full episode since I retired.

Do you prefer horizontal or vertical stripes? On me? I'm probably thin enough for either again, but I usually don't buy the causal sort of men's clothing that has horizontal stripes.

What's your favorite brand of deodorant/antiperspirant? It's called soap.

Do you know anyone who has been through a divorce? Yes, not me, thankfully.

If you had the money, would you take taxis everywhere instead of driving? Probably not.

Have you ever done a juice cleanse? If you seriously believe a juice cleanse will do you any particular good, you might need a brain tidy instead.

Do you have any friends who you can't decide if they're attractive or not? I hope I'm beyond that nonsense. As the old song goes "Everybody's beautiful in their own way."

Is the inside of your fridge clean right now or does it need a clean out? It's clean!

When was the last time you washed the dishes? Yesterday. By myself it takes a few days to fill up the dishwasher.

Are there any magazines that you read on a regular basis? National Geographic (not as good as it once was) Trains

Do you have to pay for parking in most places in the town/city you live in? Nope, I try to avoid places that only have pay parking.

What's the first thing you tend to do when you have a headache? Suffer. If I can't sleep I might take an aspirin.

Tell me about your responsibilities at work. Get up, feed myself, go to bed, go to the store, go to the mail box, pet the cat, water the cat, feed the cat, clean up the litter box...

What's your favorite style/cut of underwear? Boxers

Can you hear lots of traffic from your house? Does it bother you? If I try, I can hear the freeway, but it's far enough away it doesn't bother me. It does bother me to hear the fire trucks go by on the main streets nearby, but only from wondering where they are headed.

Have you ever had proper Canadian poutine with the squeaky cheese? Personally I don't like soggy fries. Why put perfectly good gravy and cheese on something that doesn't need either? Put them on mashed potatoes (i.e. something that's a little bland and soggy already) and you'd be more likely to get me to try it.

Do your parents know how to operate smartphones and/or computers? My mother was lucky to figure out her microwave oven and was gone before cellphones were common, let alone smartphones. If my father had lived long enough he would have been fine with computers.

How old are your parents, anyway? Both would be well over 100.

Are you allergic to anything? What do you have to do to prevent them? Mold. Got rid of my grass.

What song is stuck in your head at the moment? "This is the song that doesn't end. It just goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing not knowing what it was..."

Do you hate it when people try really hard, or do you kinda like it? It depends. You can overdo anything. But generally if it's something important, try hard. If it's not important, ease up.

What's your boss' first name? Do you call him/her by that name? I'm my own boss. And I've been know to call him 'Hey, Stupid!'

When was the last time you wore a uniform of any kind? What color was it? I was a boy scout. Olive green.

Have you ever lost enough weight to drop a dress size? I'm afraid I've never kept track of my dress size. Have I dropped a size in pants from my heaviest? Yes! A man is not likely to drop a shirt size unless he has more weight the lose than I ever had.

What's your favorite kind of bread? Sopapillas. Bread as in plain old bread? Pumpernickel, maybe.

When was the last time you got pizza? What toppings did you get? A month or so ago. I got my usual, Italian sausage, pepperoni, black olives and mushrooms.

Do you own Monopoly? Is it the original or a special version? I think I do have the original. I haven't had it out in decades.

What was the last thing you said out loud? Sirius, Sirius, come on, boy! (feeding the cat)

You have to choose one: cats or dogs? I like dogs better, but right now a cat fits my life style better.

Would someone being either a cat or dog person effect you dating them? Not unless they wanted to bring the pet along on the date.

How do you travel to and from work? What little traveling I do is by car.

Do you primarily use cash or card for your purchases? Why? Cash. Though chips in the card help, I think it is wise to generally limit the number of stores that have your card information.

Have you ever been to a stadium concert? If a pro basketball stadium counts, yes.
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