Got sent the best angle of it. Seriously someone needs to make sure she's ok. (Source: Colin Edwards) PS: no this is not me. pic.twitter.com/NAcCsLC8qr— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) September 25, 2016
Yelling,'I got it!' is gonna sting her pride longer than her face.
Submitted by: (via @Ria_Martin)
I read The sorcerer to the crown by Zen Cho this weekend and that one I throughly enjoyed and would recommend. I'd call it regency fantasy more along the lines of Gail Carrienger maybe or at least the setting. It also stars two characters of color as it's main characters and explores their relationship with each other and the world around them it being shoehorned in. The magic is awesome and enjoyed too. I'd realized that's been a problem for me in some urban fantasy where the magic is always hidden or depressing. Here the magic was part of their world and something accepted to certain extent. Anyways it's fun and I'll read it again. Plus the familar's were great and the climatic battle hilarious!
2. It was hot today and supposed to be even hotter tomorrow, but then is supposed to drop pretty dramatically in a day or so, so I'm really hopeful this is just one last heat spell and not the start of a super hot autumn like last year.
3. The second half of the week is going to be sooooo busy, but at least I get tomorrow off. I'm looking forward to sleeping in and relaxing.
4. Look at this sweet sleepy Chloe.
I finally broke down and paid for a year's subscription to the full version of Photoshop. Ever since I upgraded to a new computer that can't run my old CS2, I've been getting by with Elements, but I'm doing more covers and other pro stuff now that needs the full-featured program. So naturally I'm using it in a responsible, professional kind of way ... to make animated gifs of television characters.
I'm pretty happy with how it came out, although I should have cropped the third one so you can see more of Jack's hand. That one was the first gif in the set that I made, though, and I did a ton of editing to it, so I don't think it bothers me enough to start over from scratch making a new one. (Foolishly, I didn't save any of the intermediate, pre-cropping stages.)
One thing I've noticed making Agent Carter vids, and it's also true of gifs, is that the first season is so desaturated compared to the second season, almost sepia-toned. You have to really lighten and saturate it to get it to match ...
Very long and very severe were the equinoctial gales that
year. We waited long for news of the Lone Star of Savannah, but none ever reached us. We did at last hear that somewhere far out in the Atlantic a shattered stern-post of a boat was seen swinging in the trough of a wave, with the letters “L. S.” carved upon it, and that is all which we shall ever know of the fate of the Lone Star. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Five Orange Pips)*
Autumn equinox is a funny time of year for me, because I cannot abide the slow dying of the light on the road to midwinter. So I end up doing things on or immediately after the equinox in order to prolong the illusion of summer for as long as possible. Hence my preferred time for holidays being the first or second weeks of October. "When the Flying Scotman fills for shootin' I go southwards..."
It was, however, only a few days ago that I remembered how long ago this tendency started.
September 1984. That equinoctial weekend, I was in Algonquin park, Ontario. I had landed in Canada slightly less than three weeks earlier, and in the gap between graduate school starting, the graduate student advisor had told me to go and see a bit of proper wilderness before winter started, and given me the name of a firm (Canadian Wilderness Tours) through whom to book.
And so I found myself in an expanse of 2700 square miles with only one road, learning to paddle a Canadian canoe, somewhat implausibly dressed in summer frocks (which aren't absolutely dreadful wilderness wear if the daytime is warm and still) and coping with the culture shock of sleeping in a tent in a place where we had to put the food up trees because bears.
On the night of the equinox itself I was on the banks of a lake the best part of two days paddle into the park, with, among others, a retired druid from Cleveland Ohio (apparently it's very hard to get mistltoe in Cleveland Ohio, which should be the title of a lost song by Gordon Lightfoot, whose Canadian Railroad Trilogy I heard sung round the fireside for the first time that night.) He offered lake water as part of an equinoctial dedication, there were loons out on the lake and the Milky Way was unbelievable.
And then the expedition leader trod in the two pans of water that had been boiled for the washing up and scalded both feet, and it all went to hell in a handbasket.
* I wonder if Doyle had any recollection of Villette when he wrote that.
The sun passes the equinox; the days shorten, the leaves grow sere; but -- he is coming.
Frosts appear at night; November has sent his fogs in advance; the wind takes its autumn moan; but -- he is coming.
The skies hang full and dark -- a rack sails from the west; the clouds cast themselves into strange forms -- arches and broad radiations; there rise resplendent morning -- glorious, royal, purple as monarch in his state; the heavens are one flame; so wild are they, they rival battle at its thickest -- so bloody, they shame Victory in her pride. I know some signs of the sky; I have noted them ever since childhood. God, watch that sail! Oh! guard it!
The wind shifts to the west. Peace, peace, Banshee -- 'keening' at every window! It will rise -- it will swell -- it shrieks out long: wander as I may through the house this night, I cannot lull the blast. The advancing hours make it strong: by midnight, all sleepless watchers hear and fear a wild south-west storm.
That storm roared frenzied for seven days. It did not cease till the Atlantic was strewn with wrecks: it did not lull till the deeps had gorged their full of sustenance. Not till the destroying angel of tempest had achieved his perfect work, would he fold the wings whose waft was thunder -- the tremor of whose plumes was storm.
Peace, be still! Oh! a thousand weepers, praying in agony on waiting shores, listened for that voice, but it was not uttered -- not uttered till, when the hush came, some could not feel it: till, when the sun returned, his light was night to some! (Charlotte Bronte, Villette)
All the fans and air conditioners and open windows that noisily let us survive the summer are quiet now. The dryer and dishwasher have finished their tasks and fallen silent. The laundry is folded and stowed. The people and cats are asleep, except for me. There is such contentment in this moment of stillness.
My brain promises me that if I do enough, and if I do it well enough, I will reach a moment of the house being perfect, at which point I can finally relax. My own work on coming to terms with my brain has helped me to expand my definition of perfection. There are little untidinesses around me, to be sure, and I'll tidy a few of them before bed; but those untidinesses also make a house a home. I don't want to live in a museum exhibit. I want to live in a place where the stray bits of cat fur and scratched-up furniture remind me of our adorable cats, and J's shirt draped over a chair and X's water bottle abandoned on the corner of the table remind me of my marvelous spouses. Soon there will be toys underfoot, and parts of bottles scattered over the kitchen counter, and tiny mismatched socks in inexplicable places, to remind me of my beloved child. And I will sit in this battered but extremely comfortable chair, and put my mug down on the fluff-attracting but gorgeously vibrant red tablecloth, in my beautiful lived-in home, and it will be perfect.
Tonight I turned off the ceiling vent fan for what is probably the last time this year, and such a beautiful hush fell. I tidied just enough to make the morning easier for J and X, and did a load of laundry mostly out of habit. Now all the machines are silent, and I'm sitting at the table in the comfy broken-in chair, and there are candles casting shimmery golden light on the red tablecloth, and everyone is asleep. There was even a tiny unmatched sock in tonight's laundry.
I was right: it's perfect.
At the intermission I staggered out and said to derspatchel, "I feel like I've been clubbed with a Sunday-school primer."
After it was over, my mother (who had not come with me) asked what I thought and I said, "Well, I don't think it's going to change how I lead next year's Seder."
I am not sorry to have seen the movie. It's full of great actors, it's gorgeously filmed, it's a cultural touchstone and a truly monumental spectacle and I got to see it larger than life, which I think is the only way to treat DeMille's pyramids and Heston's beard. Everything about Yul Brynner's Rameses is terrific, from the amounts of clothing he is not wearing (but a lot of jewelry in which he looks very good) to the fact that he is actually giving a performance as well as pageantry: a beautiful, commanding man wasting his energies on envy and insecurity and cruelty he doesn't need to resort to; he breaks himself on the God of Moses as surely as Pentheus on Dionysos' smile. The matte-painted parting of the Red Sea stands up to its reputation, but I was really impressed by the simple practical effect of the commandments writing themselves in fire on the red granite of Sinai, sparking and roaring like a cutting torch of Paleo-Hebrew.1 A lot of the smaller theatrical touches worked very well for me: the recognition token of the white-and-black-striped red Levite cloth that serves first as Moses' tell-tale swaddling, then as the ironic livery of his exile, and finally as the fulfilled reclamation of his heritage; the game of hounds and jackals between Cedric Hardwicke's Pharaoh Sethi and Anne Baxter's "throne princess" (because apparently you can't get away with depicting dynastic incest even in a movie with as impressive a third-act orgy as the Golden Calf) Nefretiri that ends when the ebony head of one of Sethi's jackals snaps off and skitters across the floor to be picked up by Rameses as he enters, unconsciously providing the final word in a discussion of birthright and inheritance; a scale balanced with silver weights and mud bricks with which Rameses maliciously underscores his charges of treachery against his cousin and Moses defends himself to his Pharaoh. When the Nile turns to blood, Rameses defiantly pours out water in a blessing upon it and the clear stream thickens and reddens mid-flow. DeMille's staging of the Exodus includes Moses' adoptive mother binding her fate to her son's and the mummy of Joseph borne on a palm-decorated bier, going home to be buried in long-lost Canaan. A lot of the bigger theatrical gestures did not work for me, especially once Heston shifts into really declamatory mode. The luminous green mist fissuring the sky and pouring in a smoke of pestilence through the streets, ankle-high, grave-deep, is a terrifying interpretation of the tenth plague, but I could not take seriously the passage of the Angel of Death over the house of Aaron and Miriam once it turned on the spot into the first Seder, complete with youngest child piping up innocently, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" Hearing a crowd of extras repeatedly shout "The Lord is our God! The Lord is one!" in English is really disorienting if you have ever said the Sh'ma on a regular basis. I appreciated the rabbi credited up front as one of the film's consultants along with archaeologists and scholars from the Oriental Institute and the Egyptian Department of Antiquities, but the overall effect of the movie is still a Jewish story being told for a Christian audience, through a Christian lens. To be fair to DeMille, I didn't go in expecting anything else. It was nearly four hours long and brilliantly colored and very loud. Edward G. Robinson looked like he was having a lot of fun. Any more intellectual analysis is going to have to wait until I feel less like a very intricately painted obelisk fell on me.
The Somerville was also screening Ben-Hur (1959) as the second half of what David the projectionist called the Charlton Heston Jewish Film Festival, but especially after seeing Spartacus (1960) last night,2 I was pretty much epic'd out. I sort of reeled home and fed the cats and wrote a job application, which was exhausting. I don't know if I would feel differently toward The Ten Commandments if I had grown up on it as an Easter tradition, the same way we always watched A Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987) and the Alastair Sim Scrooge/A Christmas Carol (1951) for Christmas and Lights (1984) for Hanukkah; I never had a default version of the Exodus story other than the one my family told every year, which changed a little every year. I didn't even see The Prince of Egypt (1998) until well into college. At the moment I can't imagine how The Ten Commandments would even work on a small screen, when I think much of the effect it had on me was the cast-of-thousands enormity of the production and the friezelike, painterly compositions, as if the whole thing were a moving progression by Alma-Tadema or some other pre-Raphaelite artist specializing in the ancient world.3 I was delighted to come home and discover Arnold Friberg's concept art and costume design for the film, which look, and I mean this in the best possible way, as though they should be decorating the walls of a library à la John Singer Sargent. And now I kind of want to read something with Jewish characters written by actual Jews, which shouldn't be at all hard to find. Who knew that eating at Mamaleh's yesterday would suddenly feel like a cultural victory? This awareness brought to you by my epic backers at Patreon.
1. The only T-shirt I own with Paleo-Hebrew on it is the one ladymondegreen sent me from the Archaeological Seminars Institute in Israel. I wore it for the occasion.
2. I still think Kirk Douglas would have knocked it out of the park as Judah Ben-Hur. So did he—being turned down for the part by either William Wyler or MGM seems to have been one of his major impetus for making Spartacus. I can't say that was a bad idea, especially considering what Spartacus did for Dalton Trumbo and the breaking of the blacklist, but Douglas would have brought the requisite intensity to the role, plus he was fit as hell and actually Jewish. It would have been fun.
3. I can't imagine how long it must run with commercial breaks, either. My reaction to the latter parts of the film was rather like a road trip version of "Dayenu": all right, the Lord has hurled horse and rider into the sea, are we done yet? All right, Moses has brought down the laws from Sinai, are we done yet? All right, Moses has destroyed the Golden Calf and divided the faithful from the idolators, are we done yet? All right, the people have wandered in the wilderness for forty years, are we done yet? All right, Moses is on Mount Nebo, are we done yet? Cecil B. DeMille, it would have been enough!
For those who don't know (and until I read a passing comment on the Internet about her and the book she'd just written, I didn't), Lindy West is a feminist, fat acceptance movement activist. That was quite enough for me to be interested in her book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman.
Shrill is, like Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist or Laurie Penny's Unspeakable Things, a heady combination of personal narrative, political analysis and call-to-arms.
She talks with humour and honesty about growing up as a shy, overweight child, about reaching menache in a culture that seeks to ignore the biological processes of female bodies, about living as a fat woman, about struggling to come to self acceptance and to raise the consciousness of colleagues in the media about the effects of public fat-shaming.
She writes matter-of-factly about her abortion, and I recognised some of my own reactions on having mine. It was no horrible tragedy, no wrenching drama, simply a thing that I chose to have because I was not interested in having a child. What she says about the right to abortion, to control one's body, is short and exactly on the mark.
"The truth is that I don’t give a damn why anyone has an abortion. I believe unconditionally in the right of people with uteruses to decide what grows inside of their body and feeds on their blood and endangers their life and reroutes their future. There are no “good” abortions and “bad” abortions, there are only pregnant people who want them and pregnant people who don’t, pregnant people who have access and support and pregnant people who face institutional roadblocks and lies."
West writes movingly about the psychological consequences of the violent and obscene harassment - often minimised as "trolling" - of women on the Internet. She pulls no punches - she calls it what it is, abuse directed at the marginalised inhabitants of the net:
"Why is invasive, relentless abuse—that disproportionately affects marginalized people who have already faced additional obstacles just to establish themselves in this field—something we should all have to live with just to do our jobs? Six years later, this is still a question I’ve yet to have answered."
One of many interrelated topics she addresses is the idea of socially responsible comedy - comedy that does not make marginalised people, be they women, people with a disability or a socially awkward disease such as herpes, or any other marked status, the punchline of the joke.
"When I looked at the pantheon of comedy gods (Bill Hicks, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Louis CK, Jon Stewart, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld), the alt-comedy demigods (Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, David Cross, Marc Maron, Dave Attell, Bill Burr), and even that little roster of 2005 Seattle comics I rattled off in the previous chapter, I couldn’t escape the question: If that’s who drafted our comedy constitution, why should I assume that my best interests are represented? That is a bunch of dudes. Of course there are exceptions—maybe Joan Rivers got to propose a bylaw or two—but you can’t tell me there’s no gender bias in an industry where “women aren’t funny” is widely accepted as conventional wisdom."
She pays particular attention to the phenomenon of the rape joke.
"Feminists don’t single out rape jokes because rape is “worse” than other crimes—we single them out because we live in a culture that actively strives to shrink the definition of sexual assault; that casts stalking behaviors as romance; blames victims for wearing the wrong clothes, walking through the wrong neighborhood, or flirting with the wrong person; bends over backwards to excuse boys-will-be-boys misogyny; makes the emotional and social costs of reporting a rape prohibitively high; pretends that false accusations are a more dire problem than actual assaults; elects officials who tell rape victims that their sexual violation was “god’s plan”; and convicts in less than 5 percent of rape cases that go to trial. Comedians regularly retort that no one complains when they joke about murder or other crimes in their acts, citing that as a double standard. Well, fortunately, there is no cultural narrative casting doubt on the existence and prevalence of murder and pressuring people not to report it."
I enjoyed reading West's lived experiences - some of which, in certain ways, seemed similar to some of mine - and her strong, bold voice. Not shrill, Lindy, though frightened misogynist men might label it so. Just strong, and true.