Chill out, dude

Jul. 23rd, 2017 07:45 am
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[personal profile] jhetley
Air temperature 51 F and calm at breakfast, up to 57 F now, scattered clouds, dew point 44 F. Welcome break from the heat and humidity.

Bike ride on schedule.

(no subject)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:52 pm
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[personal profile] jhetley

Stars out of hiding.

What if for 2018

Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:53 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
My Friday reviews rotated between four long running series? Say, Vorkosigan, Kitty and two others?

(no subject)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 02:59 pm
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[personal profile] jhetley
Reading through a compilation of 1950s Pogo. Depressing, how much of it is still topical . . .

(no subject)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 01:27 pm
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[personal profile] jhetley
Rejecting allies because they don't fit a narrow template . . .
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[personal profile] jhetley

Mowed the buttercups again, before the heat gets any worse. 76 F now, little wind, July sun.

Sic transit etc.

Jul. 21st, 2017 02:41 pm
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[personal profile] jhetley

Cellar hole down the street has acquired backfill and loam, with hay mulch to control erosion and keep the pigeons out of the birdseed.

separate hobbies

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:47 pm
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[personal profile] mizkit

I saw a thing yesterday that said “Buying fabric and sewing fabric are TWO SEPARATE HOBBIES.”

I actually feel that I understand so much more about the world now.

I’m now up to 6 artist’s figurines (I need to write more reviews) and I was unable (or unwilling) to resist a set of 14 archival color pens, plus all the stuff I already own, but do I actually draw? No, hardly ever. (That said, I’ve done more this year than in many years.)

Anyway, point is I’m back to that “I want to draw some silly little story like Questionable Content only about, IDK, fat 40somethings instead of hipster robots” thing. Except I really don’t want to draw a story about fat 40somethings because ugh life. I want to do something cute and funny that I don’t have the skill set for but who cares I’ll do it anyway because it doesn’t matter. Or something. And I want just enough pressure to help me do maybe half an hour of art a day without having any real expectations.

Which of course is not much like my personality at all, because yes, I have met me. :p

Moop.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Friday not-roadkill report

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:00 am
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[personal profile] jhetley

Great blue heron preening on the grass near the cemetery pond. I deduce it had already speared breakfast. Same bird (?) in the water weeds hunting when I came back, plus a possible second in the far part of the pond.

One squashed and leaky raccoon about four miles into my ride, looked like a second-year critter. That's near a cafe, and I suspect the lure of a ripe dumpster was involved.

Not totally lethal out there, yet (82 F now), so I got out on the bike. Did not die.

15.25 miles, 1:13:12

(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 08:10 am
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[personal profile] jhetley
People running around the internet, blithering about names I've never heard before . . .

Icky sticky (one in a series)

Jul. 21st, 2017 07:59 am
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[personal profile] jhetley

Air temperature 72 F, west wind about 7 mph, clear/hazy. Need to get out on the bike before it gets worse.

jemck: rune logo from The Thief's Gamble (Default)
[personal profile] jemck
And so we come to War for the Planet of the Apes, the latest in what now seems to be an ongoing series of films rather than merely a trilogy. We see where events since the last movie have led us, as man’s arrogance encompasses his own downfall. Will the unexpected consequences of bio-technology offer other primates a chance at the top slot?

Technologically, the film is a tour de force. What motion capture and CGI can do is astonishing – you really cannot see where reality stops and special effects start. So far, so increasingly common these days. But great special effects are not enough, as rather too many movies fail to realise. A film like this must also have sufficiently strong central performances to make it a drama, not merely a spectacle. Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson deliver absolutely what’s needed. The dynamic between Caesar, leader of the apes, and Colonel McCullough, commanding an embattled remnant of humanity, is tense and compelling from start to finish.

Mankind’s inhumanity to man is front and centre, compared and contrasting with the apes’ mutually supportive culture. All Caesar and his kind want is to be left alone. Colonel McCullough needs an enemy to fight though, and unable to attack the virus that’s been humanity’s downfall, finds the scapegoats he needs in the apes.

As a war film, the movie wears its influences unashamedly on its sleeve, most obviously, though not exclusively films exploring the Vietnam War. It can absolutely and legitimately be called Ape-ocalypse Now. This is not merely retreading those footsteps though. Such echoes, and other references such as the slang names for servile apes, serve to tie this dystopian future to our own reality. There’s also the inescapable fact that the Vietnam War proved the hollowness of the American doctrine of ‘peace through superior firepower’. That undercurrent continually runs beneath our viewing of events where armed men seem to have an inescapable whip hand over apes with severely limited abilities to fight back. Beware assumptions.

Issues of gender in this movie are more complex than they might first appear, certainly as far as I am concerned. I’m using words like ‘man’ and ‘him’ advisedly because this is very male-gaze apocalypse. Not however, one where masculinity-under-threat-in-this-modern-liberal-world can finally come good, with its guns and its manly men taking charge of helpless women and children to save the day.

This is a story about the dead-end destructiveness of arrogant white male masculinity so used to solving everything with aggression that it's incapable of thinking outside that self-defeating box. That influences my response to the widespread online comment about the complete absence of female voices in the dialogue (apart from possibly one female soldier’s scream?) The one significant human female role is mute and childlike in the most literal sense, and while a couple of female apes have things to say, they do so through sign language. Could one view the lack of female voices as a feature rather than a bug, if one were prepared to squint a bit...? Then there’s the almost-gender-neutral appearance of the apes apart from the females’ apparent (and to my mind inexplicable) inclination to unflattering central partings and rustic ear decoration. I think there’s more to be discussed about the absence of female characters here than might be first apparent. Is that very absence what permits masculinity to turn so toxic?

Not that this excuses the use of perhaps the laziest motivate-your-male-protagonist cliche in the first act of the movie. There are other script-writing choices I can quibble with, most notably some utterly bone-headed human tactics as the film rushes to its conclusion.

A fourth movie is reportedly under discussion, or development, depending on what you read. I’ll be very interested to see it, provided that the writers can offer something more than man and ape in conflict. These films have done that, and done it well, but the story needs to move on. In my head at least, there must be other corners of this world where the post-apocalypse is working out differently, with male and female voices contributing equally to co-operation rather than conflict. I’d like to see how that’s working out, given so many challenges will still remain to drive a story.

1st Chapter Friday – Southern Fire

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:51 am
jemck: rune logo from The Thief's Gamble (Default)
[personal profile] jemck
After the holiday-and-other-stuff hiatus, here's where you can find the opening chapter of Southern Fire, Book 1 of The Aldabreshin Compass.
I've mentioned before that I am always determined not to rewrite the last book each time I start a new one. This time round, I was absolutely determined to write a very different series.

Meet Daish Kheda, absolute ruler and warlord, unquestioned master of all he surveys. Of course that means when trouble arrives, absolutely everyone is looking back at him, expecting him to have all the answers. That's a problem when the trouble that's turned up is invaders backed by violent sorcery, and all Aldabreshin law and custom bans magic on pain of death...



Southern Fire - Artwork by Ben Baldwin

Courtesy of Facebook's On This Day

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:30 am
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I just got to a series of posts from 2014 Wiscon harassment meltdown. Ah, memory lane.
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Previous models set first occupation significantly later. Much earlier and the first humans on the path to Australia would have left footprints in the still-cooling ashes of the Toba eruption.

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