Taliban Signal Readiness for Peace Talks
It would be the first time that the antagonists in the Afghanistan war have undertaken peace negotiations to end a conflict that has encumbered the United States since 2001, when American forces entered the country to rout Al Qaeda.
I had to skip over quite a few slides at the end to stay within the time limit, and while I probably won't get quite as many questions during the conference as I did during the practice talk, I suspect part of my time tomorrow is going to be spent tightening up the earlier part of the talk; I don't want to run out of time and have to skip pointers altogether!
Tomorrow, some combination of attending Open Source Bridge talks and finishing my talk (as is the day-before-talk conference tradition in general, I think), probably while taking advantage of the hacker lounge there.
I find myself anticipating a day, probably late in 2015 after all the "Hobbit" movies have been released on home media, when some enterprising Tolkein fan will be able to take the trilogy and edit out all the extraneous, invented content, all the fanservice, and all the indulgences, and carve out a tight, lean, faithful adaptation of the "Hobbit" that will only take a fraction of the time to watch. In short, I want a fan edit, defined by Wikipedia as "a version of a film modified by a viewer, that removes, reorders, or adds material in order to create a new interpretation of the source material." Copyright law prevents legal distribution of these creations, of course, but fan edits have become quite popular in recent years, particularly the efforts of several enterprising fans who have tried to improve the notorious "Star Wars" prequels. One of the earliest and most famous fan edits is a trimmed down version of "The Phantom Menace," known as "The Phantom Edit" that was passed around Hollywood in the early 2000s, created by an anonymous editor who was eventually revealed to be Mike J. Nichols. Now there's a thriving community of fan editors, who have produced alternate versions of everything from "Austin Powers" to "Eyes Wide Shut."
With the growing popularity of video editing software and remix activities like vidding and mashup videos, fan edits feel like a logical extension of the same creative impulse. There are so many films out there that cause consternation among films fans, particularly the most impassioned ones who spot all the little errors and mistakes, and can't help but wish that they could just go in themselves and fix things. Or those who disagree with how a beloved media property has been adapted, and want to mitigate what they perceive to be unfortunate damage. Or those who just want to have some fun and see if they can reintegrate all the deleted scenes from their favorite comedy back into the movie. After all, who hasn't wished they could fix the ending to "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" or that there was a version of "Blade Runner" or "Legend" that just gave you all the footage from all the different cuts? The biggest fan editors are professional directors, of course. George Lucas coming back after twenty years to tinker with the original "Star Wars" trilogy provided the example for many of these fan editors to follow.
Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" franchise has already been targeted by fan editors, of course. "The Two Towers" in particular has always had its detractors, who weren't happy with some of the departures Jackson made from the original novel. I never found these differences distracting enough to impact my enjoyment of this movie, but the "Hobbit" film is a different matter. In my review, I pointed out that it felt like we were watching an Extended Edition cut of the film, with all the extra material that would only be of interest to hardcore fans left in. I was sure there was a good version of "The Hobbit" somewhere in there. Since we already had the Extended Edition, I wondered if Jackson might considering doing a more stripped down, faithful cut as an extra on DVD sets. Instead, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Extended Edition" is going to be released on home media later this year with an extra 20-25 minutes of footage, and I can't imagine how much more of a slog the film is going to be with even more unnecessary material crammed in.
Fan edits haven't really caught on in the mainstream, but I can imagine them getting more traction if we see more situations like "The Hobbit," where these movies are getting padded out to the point where it's seriously affecting their watchability. I really hope I'm wrong abut "The Desolation of Smaug," and the third "Hobbit" film, "There and Back Again." But if I'm not, I can see myself resorting to fan edits in order to revisit these films in the future - as a new way to just skip ahead to the good stuff.
Let me present you a fanfic instead.
Summary: Heroes In Manhattan: From Captain America's Hidden Talents To The Truth About The Hulk, We Debunk The Myths And Expose The Daily Lives Of The Avengers.
Warnings: Some discussion of childhood trauma and depression.
Here at Dreamwidth | Here at AO3
I did my part for the flight attendants' sanity by patiently trying to explain to all the slowly panicking people around me that shutdown means shutdown and their connections would probably not leave without them. And also why we were sitting on the tarmac (no, really, they can't just put us at a random gate) and why they couldn't just call over to the connecting flights people would otherwise miss and ask them to wait (I'm looking for the post that I KNOW I remember reading in one of the pilot blogs I follow that explains why no, they can't, but I can't find it on a quick search.)
The airport is a zoo. Absolute sheer chaos. They're still trying to land all those planes that are circling, they've run out of gates because they can't get planes out (especially since many other east coast airlines, including JFK, ATL, and LGA, are also on ground stop). So I took one look at the crowd, said "fuck that noise", and am now ensconced in the airline lounge. (God bless the corporate AmEx, since it comes with lounge access, but I'd've paid for the day pass if it hadn't.)
Meanwhile, it is amazing how many people out there think they are special, especially people who are in some kind of restricted-access or elite program -- the lounge's primary audience is people who have platinum AmEx cards or who fly more than 50k miles a year. I'm sitting in the quiet room because the main room is very very full and I don't want to deal with people; there are signs everywhere saying "no cell phone use, no loud conversations, no gathering of groups or families", and what happens? dude comes in with his cell phone, talking loudly on it, because it's too noisy in the bar for him to hear! so i let it go by for a minute or two and then say "excuse me, this is the quiet lounge." he waves a hand at me. i press on: "that means no cell phone use." he gives me the death look, stomps out, and on his way out, shoots at me, "i guess you're the quiet lounge police, then." i said, fairly cheerfully, "yup! yes, i am." he said "do you get a badge for that and everything?" i said "no, just the satisfaction of not being an asshole." but hey, he left.
(I would like credit: the conversation he was loudly having was him reciting his credit card #, complete with expiration date and CVN. I did not write it down.)
Anyway, wish me luck. My flight's showing as not delayed for now, but God knows what's going to happen when I get to the gate.
on the other hand, at least this flight has wifi! and my layover is like three hours and 45 minutes, so it's not like the delay is going to fuck me over.
The thing about my experience of reading Calico Joe is that somehow I mixed up the author. I know who John Grisham is, I've read other books by him, but with the file open and the author not evident I managed to get it into my head that this book had been written by Stephen King -- I think I mixed it up with The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Which did lend a delightful air of anticipation to the story. I kept waiting for some monsters to show up.
Despite the fact that the monsters never did show up, Calico Joe was a pretty interesting read. It's told from the point of view of a man named Paul Tracey, the son of Warren Tracey, who in this fictional world was a pro baseball player for the Mets. And the rest of the summary is a bit of a spoiler, so I'll put it behind a cut.
( Calico Joe, by John Grisham )
Final Verdict: Calico Joe is a book meant for baseball fans and it's a book very much about men and their relationships to each other. The exploration of Paul and Warren's life, and of the way baseball has been played in the past, was less subtle than it could have been. But I have to admit I kept turning the pages and I never got bored with it, which is kind of rare for me. So -- flawed, but if you're in the mood for a sports-oriented tragedy, or if you like baseball history, it's a reasonably good read.
Ways To Give:
aelfgyfu_mead linked to a_phoenixdragon, who has been running a little short on money and is doing tarot readings by phone, email, or skype.
starlady linked to gchisom, who is raising money to attend the Lambda Literary Foundation's Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices this summer in Los Angeles, a one-week intensive immersion seminar for up-and-coming queer writers. Her post about her acceptance is here and her fundraising page is here.
Amy linked to an Indiegogo campaign for the brand new Kansas City Opera Institute, focused on bringing opera to Kansas City and providing professional development and exposure for young opera singers (college grads up to age 36) free of charge for participants and the public. .
subluxate linked to an Indiegogo campaign to finance the evacuation of ancient manuscripts from Timbuktu, due to rising violence in Mali. It only has a few days left; it is a flexible funding campaign, so they'll get everything that's raised regardless, but more is always better!
Ink linked to a grant campaign for Sport Social, an athletics program for people with autism. They've just recovered from an arson attack and are in competition to win a hundred thousand dollar grant, which would go a long way towards supporting and expanding their program. You can vote here to help them win the grant -- apparently they're competing with a motocross racing app for the money.
Help For Free:
shanaqui is collecting names of people who have died of cancer to write on a t-shirt to wear during a fundraising run. Everyone is welcome to contribute names.
Just For Fun:
moyakite has just published a collection of stories called Unmaking. In her words, "it spans retold myths to urban fantasy to post-apocalyptic fairy tales to a novella with time-and-reality-bending lesbians having adventures on motorcycles. So there's a bit of something for everyone, I think."
And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can always post items for my attention in comments here (or on any post) or email me at copperbadge at gmail dot com. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!).
As written or spoken language in extraordinary form, poetry is a natural home for metaphor and emotional intensity. Feelings that may be difficult to express in everyday language find potent release in matching the form and feel of words and their meanings more tightly to their intended effect.
Thus, the closer we get to talking about what is not ordinarily said, or deeply personal, or complicated and achingly vulnerable - in short, the closer we get to emotional intimacy - the more we turn to song and poetry to bypass the usual boundaries of polite distance and speak heart-to-heart.
This week at POETREE, we hope you will join us in letting go a little of that protective distance, and engage openly and honestly with our various hosts' offerings on the theme of emotional intimacy.
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ETA: mark: Payments are back
I’ve been meaning to make a blog post for a while and just not had the time to get around to it, so this’ll be a fairly variegated one, drawing on the stuff of the past few weeks.
A couple of weekends ago I was finishing up my line-edit of my Regency fantasy of manners, and I walked to Hampstead Heath with Cephas. It was a really pretty day — it’s a really pretty area, and it’s nice to be close enough to escape there when you spend the bulk of your days in the centre of town.
We visited Keats House, which we’d been meaning to do for a while. (It’s basically just a house, and they’ve filled the rooms with pictures of Keats while also trying to keep it authentic to the period, which makes everything a bit weird because you can’t imagine that he had loads of pictures of himself in his house when he still lived there. Maybe if it was Byron House!
Anyway, if you want to visit a famous person’s house in North London I’d recommend Freud House instead. Once in a while they have a Kaffee und Kuchen tour where they give you Austrian coffee and cake and a tour, and it is delicious. But also Improving!)
After our tour of the interior of Keats House I went to sit on the lawn to work on my book, and while wrangling a particularly knotty sentence I looked up and realised I was surrounded by Regency cosplayers, present for the Keats Festival.
Here they are demonstrating Georgian music to an interested audience. Being a Philistine in all matters musical, I quietly beredar-ed and spent the rest of the afternoon on the sunny lawn. The house is kind of boh tat, because you have to pay £5 to enter, but the gardens appear to be free and they are very pretty.
Today I applied myself to the challenge of making a green tea Swiss roll, and I am inordinately proud of the result. Behold!
I am a great big ball of vanity. The cake itself is not too difficult — it does involve working with peaky egg whites, but I always figure with this sort of thing that either it will go well and it will rise, or it won’t go that well but the cake will still taste good. (And you can see from the pockets of air in the cake that I mixed my egg whites in with no very skilful hand.) The whipped cream is also easy to do — the recipe tells you to put but 3/4 of a tablespoon of sugar in it, so you worry that it is not sweet enough, but actually the cake is pretty sweet so together they are perfect.
What is hard, and what I worried about when contemplating doing the cake, was the purely mechanical aspect of the roll — getting the cake into that shape without breaking it or turning into a cream monster. But Cooking With Dog helped me!
I don’t know if you know Cooking With Dog? I introduced Cephas to it today and he started LOLing, to my sister’s puzzlement.
“It’s just a normal cooking show,” she said. “I watch it to see the cooking. I wouldn’t link it to my friends, it’s not funny. The dog isn’t even doing anything.”
“How can you say he’s not doing anything?” I said severely. “The dog is hosting.”
Dog was very helpful with my Swiss roll mechanics today! Thank you, Francis.
I started following Singaporean writer Alfian Sa’at’s Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago and feel pretty good about that as a life decision. You can follow his updates even if you’re not friended (it does, alas, require you to have a Facebook account), and it is worth the price of entry if you are at all interested in local literature. His most recent status on pantun and peribahasa (Malay poetry and sayings) referencing apes, monkeys and slow lorises is a good example — my favourite of the ones he lists is:
Seutas rotan ditarik, bergegar hutan belukar, riuh bunyi kera dan lotong
‘A rattan stem is pulled, the forest underbrush shakes, the outburst from the macaques and langurs is deafening’. If someone is guilty of wrongdoing, he or she will receive an earful from friends and relatives.
If they taught Malay literature like this at school I think people would be a lot more interested lor. (Not that I didn’t enjoy Konserto Terakhir, mind you. Surprise almost-incest always jazzes up one’s school reading!)
And a final picture
Which requires no explanation.
Mirrored from Zen Cho.