delphipsmith: (damnsnow)
It's snowing again still. Argh.
delphipsmith: (McBadass)
...is all the women's marches, not just in the U.S. but around the world. Amsterdam, Oslo, Helsinki, Bogota, Nairobi, Madrid, Marseilles, London. Truly heartwarming to see so many people (both men and women!) in some many places, speaking out against the stated policies of the current administration.

Also: THANK YOU so much to my lovely flisties who gifted me with virtual prezzies and LJ account extensions! You are lovely and I smooch you all :)

Also also: We saw Rogue One today and LOVED it. More on that tomorrow...
delphipsmith: (GrampaMunster)
Forget the candy and costumes -- give me vintage horror movies! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

TCM is doing a marathon today through Monday. We just finished watching "The Blob" (1958) and now "Village of the Damned" (1960) is on, squeee!!! Also on the schedule, among others: House of Wax, Cat People, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, To the Devil a Daughter, The Mummy, Black Sabbath... I can hardly contain my glee :) I may have to call in sick to work on Monday lol

Saturday lineup
Sunday lineup
Monday lineup
delphipsmith: (George scream)
Mr Psmith's biggest tarantula, Shelob, molted last week. He asked if I would kindly allow him to pose it on my face. In a moment of insanity (or possibly due to the three glasses of wine I had had), I said yes.

WARNING - BIG SPIDER UNDER CUT! )
delphipsmith: (save the liver)
How many of these terrors of the table do you remember?

The banana ones are particularly nightmare-inducing. But the little igloo meatloaf is kind of cute.

When I was a kid, my mom went through a serious health-food kick. The rule at every meal was "No matter what you think, you have to try at lesat one bite." Then, if you didn't like the brewer's yeast surprise or the kale cookies, you didn't have to eat them.

This rule stood until one morning when my brother barfed his one bite of wheat-germ-scrambled-eggs all over the breakfast table.

What's your scariest childhood food memory?
delphipsmith: (starstuff)
I just discovered that in December, SyFy will be airing a tv miniseries version of Childhood's End, and I am sorely conflicted.

I love this book. It was one of the first science fiction novels I ever read. My mother introduced me to it when I was about twelve or so; it blew me away and set the bar for future reading very high indeed. I have re-read it many times since, always with great pleasure. It's a classic that turns up on every science fiction "best of" list: thought-provoking, complex, beautifully crafted, joyous and heartbreaking at the same time. The thought of seeing it brought to life fills me with unspeakable excitement.

But it's SyFy. Their record with adaptations fills me with equally unspeakable horror. If I watch the first episode and it's awful, I may never get it out of my head. Back when they were SciFi, they did a shamefully poor adaptatio of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books. Fortunately I knew ahead of time that it stunk -- Le Guin herself disclaimed all connection with it -- so was able to avoid it, but it has left me highly distrustful of them. They're fine with Piranhaconda (after all, it isn't really possible to screw THAT up) and things of that ilk, but a Golden Age science fiction classic like this?

As I said, I'm on the horns of a dilemma :P
delphipsmith: (George scream)
So, we have the Heartbleed bug, an outbreak of Ebola, and a blood moon all in the same week. Coincidence...or evil omen??
delphipsmith: (George scream)
"Little" being a relative term. Eeeeeeeeek!


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delphipsmith: (GilesLatin)
"A judge has ruled that the vast majority of Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes stories are now in the public domain in the US, which means (among other things) that you can make money off your Johnlock fic without Conan Doyle’s heirs swooping down on you with blazing swords, ready to exact financial vengeance. It’s go time..."

Read the rest here. So all of you go start selling your Sherlock fic :D

(I don't have any Sherlock icons so you get Giles. Librarian, detective, same thing, right?)
delphipsmith: (Luddite laptop)
A couple of weeks ago, on my mom's recommendation, I read Dave Eggers' The Circle. Like Orwell's 1984 or Huxley's Brave New World, it's more of a fable than a novel, social criticism rather than great characterization and plotting, but rather chilling in that this awful world is yet so very close to where we already are, and very likely where we're headed absent some sort of epiphany in our love affair with technology. In a sense he is preaching to the choir (the choir, in this case, being those who worry about the ubiquity of social media and Big Server rather than Big Brother), but it was engrossing. The ending was surprising; I think his message is that no big deus ex machina is going to rescue us from the constant stream of friending-tweeting-liking-pinning-statusupdating-rating-networking-linking-sharing-sharing-sharing-MUSTSHAREALLTHETHINGS!!! We have to rescue ourselves. I sympathized very much with Mae's friend who makes lamps out of antlers and just wants to be left alone.

Then today I ran across this rather apt quote from Neil Postman (written in 1985!!):

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

I fear very much that we're a good way down into Huxley's world: "a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy." (Honey Boo Boo or Ashley Madison, anyone?) The problem is that if 99% of the world is living in Huxley's version of the future, it's incredibly easy for a very few people to operate it like Orwell's version without anyone noticing. When everything is digital, it's easier than ever to edit the past. Or the present.
delphipsmith: (George scream)
Why am I seeing pictures of Miley Cyrus naked on a wrecking ball everywhere I go online? Is this some sort of metaphor for what she's done to her career or what?

Also, the winner of the "Best Spontaneous Reaction" contest is "Oh, sweet Jesus on a breadstick..." for this atrocious violation of a beloved classic. I'm sorry, Carrie what? And Captain von Trapp is being played by Stephen who??

Thank god for today's google doodle, otherwise I would despair of modern culture.
delphipsmith: (PIcard face-palm)
A preschool in Philadelphia has prohibited its kids from acting like superheroes during recess. For realz. Because apparently the correct response to excessively rough play in five-year-olds is to BAN SUPERMAN.

The letter begins thusly:

PARENTS WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Recently it has been brought to our attention that the imaginations of our preschool children are becoming dangerously overactive...

Because yeah, IMAGINATION BAD. When I was in preschool I dressed as Batgirl for Halloween (and yes, I was adorable). Guess that won't be an option for anyone at this re-education camp school.

More here: Preschool Bans Kids From “Super Hero Play,” Doesn’t Even Have the Decency To Do It With Proper Grammar

And here: Preschool Bans Kids From Pretending to Be Superheroes, Misses Point of Childhood Completely .
delphipsmith: (magick)
A man has died of rabies from a kidney transplant. After seventeen months. Yay, now we can worry about long-incubation period rabies! The lesson here I guess is take good care of your kidneys so you don't need a new one.

The Infinity ConcertoSo, The Infinity Concerto. I loved Greg Bear's Blood Music, and the title, summary, and about the first third of this book intrigued me very much, which made me all the more disappointed when it all went flat. Bear incorporates some excellent fantasy elements -- Lamia, the Crane Women, humans confined to a sort of ghetto in the realm of the Sidhe, the mystical power of music -- but he never seems to effectively meld the components into a coherent whole.

The most obvious example is music: the title has the word "concerto" in it, Michael's translation into the Realm is instigated by a composer, nearly all of the humans in the Realm are there because they experienced a mystical response to music (either playing or listening), no musical instruments are allowed in the Sidhe realm and it's mentioned more than once that the Sidhe dislike human music, etc. But in the end, all of that is completely irrelevant. Music plays no part whatsoever in the central conflict of the book, either in its unfolding or resolution. That was a major "WTF?" for me.

Another example of apparently important but ultimately unincorporated story elements is Eleuth: she loves Michael to the point that she dies for him but in the end her death means nothing, since he learns nothing from it and it has no effect on his quest, his training, his knowledge, or even his emotions! Many of the other characters such as Nikolai, Lin Piao, Savarin, the Sidhe horse, even Lamia suffer from this same lack of integration into the plot. As a reader, if I spend time getting invested in characters -- learning not only their names but little things about them -- I expect that investment to be returned somehow. The ROI on 95% of the characters in this book is about zero.

It wasn't just characters that floated about unattached. Since the main character is initially completely at a loss about what's going on, so is the reader. This is not a problem if the main character slowly begins to piece together the puzzle, carrying the reader with him or her. That didn't happen here, at least not for me. The back-story about Mages battling each other and turning each other into Earth(?) animals was intriguing but I had a lot of trouble following how it was connected to the Michael's story, what with the muddle of humans, Sidhe, gods and Mages who are, or pretend to be, each other, or something else. There also seemed to be a lot of extraneous information that wasn't integrated into the story (interstellar Sidhe travel, for example, and the weird brass cylinder floating in the Maelstrom).

This is at bottom a quest tale, which by definition means that the main character undertakes a journey, with a goal, and he changes along the way. Here again, Michael's journey and growth seemed to be largely unconnected to the climax of the story. His goal was never clear even to himself; his training consists of a lot of running, learning to generate heat so he doesn't need a fire, and throwing shadows to distract attackers. The "power" he uses at the end to defeat the Isomage is that he's a poet - but he was a poet from the beginning, so nothing about his journey has anything to do with it.

As a minor nit, I totally stopped caring about Biri when it's revealed that the first task he's assigned on joining the Sidhe version of the priesthood is to kill his horse, and he does. Maybe it's Bear's shorthand for demonstrating that the Sidhe are irredeemable bastards, but I think there are more sensible ways to demonstrate it. Besides, it doesn't really jibe with their other characteristics, such as nature magic and becoming trees after death.

This is a lot to say about a book that I didn't much like, but I think it's because it had so much potential and it vexes me that the potential was unrealized. (By comparison, Andre Norton's Dread Companion is a similar story about a human being translated to the Faerie Realm, but it does a much better job (maybe because it doesn't try so hard). I re-read that one on a regular basis.)

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