seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
A few things:

A friend from college just posted this comic, and it's pretty amazing and should be shared widely: (TW: The title pretty much gives it away. Deals with miscarriage and living with loss)

On a completely different note, I've been watching How To Make It In America and struggling to articulate a genre name for a thing I love which links How to Make it In America with shows as disparate as Orphan Black and The Wire and Suits and some other shows I love. What these shows have in common is that they use the mechanics of the competence porn subgenre- supernaturally clever and skilled protagonists working together in teams that maximize everyone's potentials- but the good guys don't always win at the end of the hour.

The rush I get from watching these shows is definitely the same I get from watching shows like Leverage or Bones or the Flash, the hustle of adjusting plans on the fly to deal with unanticipated obstacles, the sudden insight of how to creatively route around a problem... but somehow outside the genre requirement that the end of the episode bring a triumph and a close to the episodic structure.

How To Make It In America sometimes closes its episodes with its heroes getting an unexpected order to make 300 T-shirts by next Wednesday, when they'd gone in looking to sell jeans. But it just as often ends its episodes with those 300 shirts, frantically and competently sourced from a mysterious warehouse in Greenpoint, stolen when the truck they were sitting in was jacked.

I really like that combination of competence and failure. But I don't have a vocabulary to describe the generic conventions of these stories, though I think they do have conventions. Like, there's a very specific kind of defeat-snatched-from-the-jaws-of-victory beat that I've seen on all the shows I mentioned, and a very specific gutpunched-character-sits-alone-while-sad-usually-indie-music-plays-into-the-credits beat.

Incompetence Porn? Anti-Competence Porn? Failure Porn? None of these names seem quite adequate to call what I'm describing. Possibly it's just Competence Porn That's Weirdly Paced... it's very common on these shows for the heroes to hit the tropey denouement of a competence porn plot at the three quarters mark, and it feels like the episode is over, and then rather than the episode ending, the remaining quarter of the show is the letdown. But we could, I suppose, think of that as really being the first fifteen minutes of the next episode of a competence porn storyline, time-shifted to the end of the previous episode.

Also, I finished reading the Meyer's history of Reform Judaism, which remained just as frustratingly full of interesting factoids yet tantalizingly far from enough detail fleshing out any of those factoids to the finish. The biggest hole in the book is in Meyer's discussion of the Reform Movement's actions during the Holocaust- I think there's a general sense in the Jewish community that because of Reform's connections at the time to the richest and most politically influential Jews in America, it could have done more than it did to mitigate the effects of the Holocaust, and nothing Meyer says refutes this sense, but... he mostly chose to skip over any serious discussion of what Reform did do during the Holocaust, despite covering both the immediate pre-war and post-war eras at length. It's an omission that felt cowardly to me.

I also had feelings about his discussion of Sally Priesand, since unlike most of the other interesting factoids taking all of a page in the book that I wanted to read a whole book about, I actually have read the whole book about Sally Priesand. I did think Meyer actually fleshed out some questions I had after reading Nadell's book... it seems clearer, in the wake of Meyer, that women Rabbis became an inevitability in Reform Judaism only after the merger of HUC and JIS- the institutional politics of the various campuses of HUC-JIS is something Nadell wasn't all that interested in.

All in all, I'm glad I read the book, but it's probably going to lead to a lot more reading about Jewish history to answer all the questions it left me with. But that's okay.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
I submitted my vid for Club Vivid last night!!!

Looking through emails, I conceived the idea for this vid at the start of October, started collecting clips on 10/15, had the first draft on 11/28. I have put so much work into this vid over what is for me a very long time to work on a fanwork. I definitely think this is the fannish project I've put the most of myself into.

It feels very funny to be done with this thing that's consumed so much of my attention for months. I celebrated the completion by doing a shot of slivovitz, as felt appropriate. I subsequently felt a little dizzy, but I'm not sure if that's because of the liquor or the feeling of loss.

August seems a long way away. Funny to have to sit on a fanwork for so long before sharing it. I'm used to the instant gratification of finishing something, posting it, and getting comments more or less right away. I widened the circle of people I asked to beta in the last week, so I did get to see some new people reacting to seeing it for the first time, including the first set of people I actually literally was in the same room with and watched them react to it. They responded as I'd hoped and it was awesome.

I can't wait to dance to my vid at Vividcon.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
Last night I went to a Star Wars themed pub trivia event in honor of May the 4th. I went with a team of people I've been fannish about Star Wars with for fifteen years- we've done Star Wars rpgs together, we've gone to cons together, we've grown up talking EU books together. I didn't expect we'd win, as I'm well aware that there are many people more obsessive about Star Wars than I am, but I thought we'd do decently. I'm usually good at trivia in general and I'm usually good at knowing things about Star Wars.

We were holding at 5th through most of the evening, but slipped to 9th at the end (out of about 15). I'd have been pleased with fifth, but 9th is kind of sticking in my craw.

It turned out the night tilted a little more toward The Force Awakens and Rogue One than we were comfortable with. I've seen TFA maybe three times, and R1 once, plus a bunch of rewatching parts of TFA with the sound off while vidding "Science Fiction Double Feature". But it's more than just "Eh, they're new movies, we haven't had time to watch them as much." I haven't read the novelizations, I've only read one of the tie-in novels, I haven't read the technical manuals. Whereas with the original movies AND the prequels, I've done those things. Obsessively.

Yet we can hardly say I've been unfannish about the new films, given that I just vidded TFA, a process that took quite a few hours of investment. I think it's interesting how differently I've been interacting fannishly with TFA and R1. And sorta frustrating. I guess I want to have the same level of obsessive trivial knowledge about the new movies, but I don't want to put in the work. :P
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Cyrano de Bergerac by Franco Alfano, staged at the Met with Roberto Alagna as Cyrano

This was actually really good. I'm surprised, I didn't know what to expect of Alfano, who's most famous for finishing Puccini's Turandot (yuck) rather than for his own original work. The drama was exceptionally tightly plotted, the vocal lines were pretty and the orchestration made surprisingly ironic use of its lush post-romanticism.

Written in the 1930s based on a play written in the 1890s, it felt like an opera of the 1890s in spirit- A sort of verismo mostly unaware of Schoenberg, Debussy, Stravinsky. But I'm not sure I mean that in as negative a way as I normally do. In some sense there was a rightness to the choice- Cyrano de Bergerac is a story about a bygone era and that Romantic nostalgia is consonant thematically with the story being told.

The only major problem I had with the transplant to opera is that the Baron is a little too similar to typical operatic empty shirt tenor heroes that we're supposed to root for, not quite ridiculous enough, because he is not supposed to be a villain either. So the idea that Roxane may end up with him does not seem quite as horrifying as it should, to an audience inured by offensively banal romantic operas. The third act does not quite hold together as a result, a little too frantic in its movements to fully develop its principal characters. But the fourth act... What a gorgeously executed "15 years later," a jump that stands in for a kind of romantic development most operatic composers can't quite evoke in the time they have available to them. One of the reasons opera love is broken is that you can't invest the time it takes to actually show real relationships forge themselves on stage, unless, you know, you're Strauss. But the 15 years later jump here sold me- the Cyrano/Roxane relationship that followed speaks clearly of 15 years of development.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
Title: Science Fiction Double Feature
Fandom: Star Wars A New Hope/ Star Wars The Force Awakens (geddit? It's a double feature!)
Vidder: seekingferret
Song: "Science Fiction Double Feature" by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Content Notes: Canonical Major Character Death, Violence
Length: 2:29
Responsible for the lack of consistent title block from vid to vid: seekingferret
Summary A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, God said let there be lips. And there were, and they were good.
Created For: [personal profile] niyalune [community profile] equinox_exchange Spring 2017
Acknowledgements: thanks for [personal profile] thirdblindmouse for betaing!
Originally posted: here on AO3

My primary vid for Equinox was "Science Fiction Double Feature", a Star Wars fanvid to the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes punk cover of the opening song from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, how it's informed both by the Star Wars fandom meta side and by the Rocky Horror fandom meta side as it tells a story about the cyclical nature of media franchises and scifi as a genre in general- the literal 'double feature' in my vid is A New Hope and The Force Awakens, the iconic original film that is itself a transparent remix of things like the classic Flash Gordon serials, and the awesome new remix of the original film.

So... my relationship with Rocky Horror is complex. I was first introduced to it at nerd camp, where a costumed performance of "Sweet Transvestite" was a Second Saturday ritual and where quite a few of the campers knew the callbacks by heart. Because of its association with nerd camp, and because my friends enjoyed it, I watched it with nerd camp friends several times in the years after we left nerd camp- it was a habitual part of our reunions.

My opinion on RHPS, as a film, is simple: I think it's terrible and I think once you get to the Floor Show it becomes unwatchably terrible. That said, it can be fun to watch the earlier parts with good friends, and some of the callbacks are amusing. And for a movie that I dislike, it has a lot of good memories attached to it.

And I do resonate with the opening song and with the movie's idea of looking back nostalgically at early 20th century B movie SF. Which, not coincidentally, is what Star Wars, released only 2 years after Rocky Horror, is also doing- though they're tonally completely different, they're nostalgic about the exact same movies! I make a lot of vids where I find some inexplicable and surprising connection between two disparate fandoms/memes/themes, but that's not what this is. This is a vid about the very real nostalgia that drove the creation of both Star Wars and Rocky Horror. And how that cycle of nostalgia has looped around to the point where, cashing in on nostalgia for Star Wars, JJ Abrams created The Force Awakens as a coherent, recognizable remix of Star Wars.

I'm super pleased with so many of the lyric matches- Han and Chewie as Fay Wray and King Kong, Obi Wan as the Invisible Man, BB-88 as the Tarantula, Threepio as Anne Francis in both verses, Peter Cushing's Tarkin as Dr. X (he was, of course, cast as Tarkin because he spent so many decades playing various creature builders in various B SF films), Vader and Kylo as the Androids Fighting, and wrapping up each verse with the cantina crew as Rocky Horror fandom itself, which is to say Star Wars fandom, a crew of wonderful weirdos united by our shared obsession with skiffy. The song maps to Star Wars incredibly easily, really.

At the end I threw in a joke based on one of the Rocky Horror callbacks, because it felt necessary to acknowledge that part of the fannish experience of Rocky Horror- a twist on the Fuck the Back Row/ Fuck the Front Row/ Fuck All the Rows! callback that ends instead "Fuck Kylo Ren!" Which I figure is something everyone in Star Wars fandom ought to be able to agree about.

The opening callback in the standard Rocky script begins "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." There is, again, in the fandom a significant connection between Star Wars and Rocky Horror. In different ways they speak to the same things. To be honest as I was vidding and listening to the song over and over I kept hearing the callbacks in my head... I'm not sure there are any other conscious references to callbacks in the vid, beyond the Fuck the Back Row joke, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were subconscious ones, places where my lyric matches are informed as much by the fannish subtext of Rocky Horror as by the actual text of the song. Certainly I had great pause about how to vid the "Brad and Janet" lines not because of who Brad and Janet represent in the film, but because of what they represent in the fannish consciousness. Anyone I tagged as Janet would carry the 'slut' moniker with her, and, for example, I definitely did not want that anywhere near Princess Leia. But I also was hesitant about tagging a male character as Janet the slut because that kind of joke is at least potentially transphobic. So certainly the fannish consciousness of Rocky Horror shaped how I approached the vid.

I made the vid before [personal profile] niyalune posted their letter, and really before looking very closely at their journal, so I was relieved when I poked at their work to find their awesome Brooklyn 9-9 vid to The Time Warp, which signaled to me that I was in the right territory. In other meta thoughts, I was amused as hell when I opened my present and found that for the second exchange in a row, I both received and gave a vid with music by the same band- in Festivids it was They Might Be Giants, this time it was Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Both are, I think, really vid-friendly bands. TMBG because they sing songs about specific things, which can provide better grounding for vidders than songs that are just about vague romantic feelings. And Me First because their uptempo covers can give a foothold to vidders who find the slower paced originals require too much support from the images.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
Title: Feasting and Dancing
Fandom: Star Wars Original Trilogy
Vidder: seekingferret
Song: "This Year" by the Mountain Goats
Content Notes: Canonical Major Character Death, Violence, Child Abuse
Length: 3:40
Responsible for the lack of consistent title block from vid to vid: seekingferret
Summary Ready for the bad things to come.
Created For: [personal profile] niyalune [community profile] equinox_exchange Spring 2017
Originally posted: Here to AO3

I was looking to do something with Skywalker family angst, per [personal profile] niyalune's request. It was kind of a tossup between the song I ended up choosing, "This Year" by the Mountain goats, and fun.'s "Carry On"- both songs about just putting your shoulder to the wheel and enduring pain and loss and sadness to hopefully get to the good stuff you're not entirely certain is around the corner. Ultimately the evil stepfather stuff in "This Year" carried the day- I was talking to [ profile] allandaros and he commented on how, of all the fictional characters with daddy issues, Luke and Leia's daddy issues are perhaps the most legit- their daddy is actually a genocidal maniac. If anyone deserves the right to bitch about his daddy issues, it's Luke Skywalker. And yet... "This Year" is a brutal song, but it's also a self-mocking song. The narrator, looking back on his teenage years, knows to some level that the abuse was not his fault, but he also knows that as a teenager he was a stupid teenager. The absurdity of "I am going to make it through this year if it kills me" anchors the song, and then Darnielle piles on ironies like "I was seventeen years young" and "twin high maintenance machines" (I reversed the polarity of that one back to literal for double irony points by making the Falcon and Luke's X-Wing the high maintenance machines ferrying around their high maintenance pilots). This is a vid about how Luke is a ridiculous child who turns into a hero in spite of having a hell of a lot stacked against him.

This vid was harder to figure out than "Science Fiction Double Feature"- the lyric matches less obvious, the narrative trickier. I had to do the opening thirty seconds four times, over the course of two weeks, before I had it down. At first I had a much longer whomping Luke section at the start where I played out, over the instrumental prelude, each of a series of terrible things happening to Luke- the dianoga attack, the wampa attack, crashing his airspeeder, etc... It didn't work- the whole thing was too slow and repetitive and the story I was telling didn't really start way for too long, so I had to cut back the instrumental prelude, trim back all the whomping of Luke into a much more economical narrative, and get into "I broke free on a Saturday morning" and Luke's actual agency much quicker and the section started to gel. Then I stalled out for a month, before finishing the remaining two minutes in about a week. I think I needed to stew on the vid to decide how to pace it, when Vader would reappear and which moments told the story. I also considered for a while whether Leia's daddy issues belonged- ultimately I decided that the song didn't have the narrative density to support those dual narratives, but that's a question that to some degree still lingers for me as a what-if. There are a couple of places in the song that seem like natural places to introduce a new perspective, but I am less certain that there are natural places to conclude the second narrative. I could see introducing the torture droid scene from ANH, I could see Leia running full-steam ahead, blaster locked and loaded, in the mid sections, but I couldn't see how the ending of the Leia narrative looked. She never gets to confront her father the way Luke does.

I hit "there will be dancing and feasting in Jerusalem next year" and really struggled with what to do after that. It's an obvious lyrical match for the end of RotJ- Luke triumphant, having escaped/surmounted his father's shadow. But if I do that jump, how does the vid continue? How do I work my way back to the final chorus, and then to the thirty seconds of instrumental coda that follow the last chorus? I jokingly told [personal profile] sanguinity I was thinking of just stopping there- Luke celebrates with his new family over the final chorus, then thirty seconds of credits. But it was an unsatisfying solution, so what I ended up doing was switching mid-chorus from the RotJ celebration to Luke's final battle, as if to say that the celebration still lies in the future, he's still fighting for his soul and his father's soul, and the abuse is something he'll carry even after the celebration. Even though it was forced by the song and not my original plan, I think it worked out better than if I'd ended the song with Luke's pure, unambiguous triumph. There is an integrity as a vidder in trusting the song you've committed to- if it truly is the right song, it will teach you how to vid to it, nudge you into new understandings of the characters. And if it's the wrong song, well, then you add it to the ever-growing scrap heap of failed vid ideas.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
I've been thinking, as I wrote in my last D&D post, about how to do the more natural settings in my new campaign in a way that both explores the economic questions and maintains the sense of whimsy and adventure you want in a fantasy adventure and it struck me that the obvious approach is to use Fey. The very nature of Fey adventures is tied up in questions of contracts and obligations, it's inherently economic in nature. Players want to exploit a mine, but in order to gain access they need to make deals with the local fey, whose goals may be orthogonal to predictable economic aims, but whose practices are definitely economic in nature.

This creates a really interesting potential scenario: Beneficial contracts that players make with fey accrue immediate guild merits (XP) toward levelling, but if a deal with a fey is ever breached, players lose those guild merits and potentially can de-level. I really like this effect, it makes breaking fey contracts have real, meaningful teeth to the players on a metaphysical level.

Larger contracts between Auction Houses and fey kingdoms are also a wonderful source of adventure hooks, as such deals no doubt require periodic acts of maintenance. I'm imagining a scenario like where the Deal is that in order to ensure safe passage across a river in fey territory, all the Carter's Guild needs to present the local fey lord with a small, somewhat obscure but not valuable gem every year- the kind of payment where the players might wonder what the hell the faeries want with it. The players try to cross the river and the fey lord, wearing an outfit beautifully adorned with hundreds of identical gems showing that this Deal has been in force for centuries and revealing the intricate way that this ageless lord executes plans over long time scales, denies them passage until they present him this year's gem. And he doesn't deny them passage by force, but with a simple but immensely powerful teleport spell. Any time they try to cross the river, they end up back where they started. I can do so much with this kind of story element.

So I'm going to need to think up the details of the organization, such as it is, of the fey in the Mannheim Vale. I definitely want multiple kingdoms/courts of fey, but I probably also want individual loner fey creatures.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
Just watched an IA episode of a police procedural. And I was wondering- has anyone ever made a morally satisfying internal affairs episode on such a show? IA episodes have to be my least favorite trope of police procedurals because all police procedurals are morally bankrupt, or at least morally driven by the dictates of closing plots in 40 minutes or less. Yet we are still supposed to regard the protagonists as the heroes, or the premise of the show doesn't work. So an IA episode involves, for one 40 minute or sometimes 80 minute period, looking back at past episodes of the show from an external, absolutist moral lens. It makes no sense within the internal morality of the show, and given that as soon as the IA episode is cleared, usually by a deus ex machina that bestows no meaningful consequences on our heroes and often affirms their cloudy moral horizons as righteous, morality returns to amoral normal, it does not serve to create a new moral status quo.

Maybe the Wire achieves a successful IA storyline? I've only seen the first season, so I'm not sure, but I guess I could believe the Wire could pull it off because the Wire doesn't require us to think of the police as the heroes of the show and it doesn't require us rooting for their success.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
[community profile] equinox_exchange, a new biannual fanvidding exchange, just revealed its vids for its first round. 54 vids, all for space-based fandoms (the exchange picks a new theme each round, is the plan).

All of the vids can be found here

I received an amazing The Martian vid to Me First and the Gimme Gimme's punk cover of Elton John's "Rocket Man", which is an inspired song choice for a wonderful Mark being lonely but badass vid. I commend you to it. I also commend you to the rest of the exchange, which I'm still taking in, but so far it all looks great.

Rocket Man (9 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Martian (2015)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Mark Watney
Additional Tags: Video, Angst, Happy Ending

Burning out his fuse up here alone.

I made two vids- feel free to guess which ones they are. They're probably screamingly obvious, as usual.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
In a couple months the rotation in my regular D&D group is going to work its way around to me DMing the on-going campaign. I've been a fill-in one shot DM for the group for years and have in various contexts run one shots and two and three shots over the years, but have never run a sustained rpg campaign before. I'm very excited.

My goal is basically to run Capitalism: The RPG. The setting is a homebrew called the Mannheim Vale setting, and it's a setting I've used to run one-shots before. It's a late-medieval setting where three kingdoms hold in dispute the Mannheim Vale, a geographically isolated area, with the result being that it's ended up being fairly ungoverned, home to subsistence farming goblins and a few esoteric hermit cults. But the vale has mineral resources of interest to a rapidly industrializing late-medieval power, so that my one-shot adventures have been tinged with the sense that this geographically isolated area is unlikely to stay untouched by the larger powers for long, and that in fact the triggering events of my one-shots have been the early probings of the major powers. I propose to explore in more detail the conflict as the long-time inhabitants of the vale deal with the influx of newcomers with their own agendas, from the point of view of the colonizers. I plan to exploit the tendency of D&D adventurers to, er, exploit, by directly converting economic externalities into plot hooks. And I plan to encourage the tendency of D&D adventurers to exploit by supplementing and modifying conventional XP systems to particularly reward players for discovering and laying claim to resources that have long-term economic value. I want discovering a vein of ore to be more valuable to a player than discovering a monster's treasure horde. But I want mining that vein of ore to bring with it story consequences that make players learn to ask if the reward is worth the human cost.

Players will be all affiliated with one of the numerous Auction Houses of Holern- powerful vertically integrated medieval guilds headed by a Chief Auctioneer (generally a high level bard). I want them to all be affiliated with different Auction Houses so that they're jockeying against each other, working together for the good of Holern and the joint venture but particularly attuned to how they can benefit their own sponsoring guild.

I haven't quite decided on the mechanics of my XP system modifications yet. I was at first thinking of replacing XP for combat with a mechanic I was thinking of as "XP for Profit", as a play on OD&D's "XP for Treasure". But it got messy, it would pretty much only work if players actually operated a fairly substantial economic ledger, which seems like a big ask. I'm thinking now to simplify- minimize or completely ditch XP for combat, and use a guild-based leveling system where players gain levels when they provide enough benefits to their guild to get a guild promotion. Finding a monster treasure horde might be worth a guild merit or two- they're not going to say no to enriching the guild treasury with the percentage of the haul that their guild member of course remits... but finding an exploitable mine, or uncovering a new kind of medicinal plant, or charting a faster trade route... those things are worth multiple guild merits.

This could all turn out to be a total disaster, in which case I'll tweak it as I go, but I'm really excited about getting the chance to try to tell a story like this over a longer time scale.

The other thing I'm worried about is how to tell stories in Capitalism: The RPG while still have it compellingly be a fantasy world. How do I maintain whimsy and magic and fantasy while exploring the economic questions that are interesting to me? How do I keep it fun for players?

I feel like I have a pretty good sense of how to do it for the setting's primary urban locus, the city of the various Auction Houses. My favorite bit of backstory about the city is this: The Council of Seven that rules the city politically is traditionally headed either by a human or a dwarf, alternating on three year terms. This is a political compromise between the two largest races in the city, but it is not a statutory arrangement and every so often, typically when the dwarves and humans are deadlocked on some issue, an elf has served a term as president of the council. And there was that one time that a minotaur ruled the city for three years... His big public works project as council president was a large public park with a fiendishly difficult unsolved labyrinth as its focal point.

I get how cities work, I have a feel for their nuances and I know how to generate fantasy and whimsy in an urban setting while making all the nuts and bolts of the city feel real. I'm going to have to work harder when characters are out exploring the wilder areas to hit the balance between the pure economics and the fantasy adventure. But I'm excited about the challenge of this, too.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
Dear Jukebox Author,

Apparently you've asked the mod for some more prompting! That's fine. I would have been fine seeing whatever you came up with without it, but if you want some ideas, here's some thoughts on the things I like about the songs I requested.

Starman - David Bowie (Song)

I love it so much for its devastating false messianism. Ziggy has so much promise, so much charisma and belief and hope, and then he comes up against the reality that the world isn't ready for him and it destroys him. And the connection between music and faith- his messianic end times message is "Let the children boogie." The world changing power of rock and roll music. :D

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah - Parsonsfield (Song)

One of 30 Rock's better one-off jokes, the idea of Tracy Jordan singing a novelty song about a werewolf bar mitzvah is so surreally inspired. The chorus has a wonderful bit of wordplay that connects the idea of a werewolf to the idea of bar mtizvah as being centered on the locus of the idea of change and transformation, which is a shockingly deep insight for a throwaway joke on a sitcom. Parsonsfield's bluegrass cover adds another confusing layer of cultural-mismatch on top.

Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon (Song)

I pretty much only requested this because I wanted to request two songs about werewolves. The great idea behind this song, though, is that werewolves are so typically elemental to a gothic literature, with a heightened, constricted sense of place. Werewolves of London degothics the werewolf, transplants them to a mundane world and wrestles with their mundane desires.

Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple (Song)

This song is a marvel of wordplay and phrasing, and it's one of the songs that feels like it could use a good classic Jukebox literal interpretation of the lyrical metaphors. Treating it as a song where the narrator actually is a robot seems like a fun idea. A loveable failbot of a robot.

Monster Ballads - Josh Ritter (Song)

Also mostly requested to pair with my two werewolf requests (the actual monster ballads), because I am silly like that, but seriously, this song is great. It handles American history with such a gentle familiarity. It OWNS American history, in all its grim glory, with the kind of confidence that can only come from having dwelt on its darkest recesses and come to terms with them.

Feel free to take anything of this that you wish, and ignore the rest!

seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
I finished watching Iron Fist. Well, mostly. I was bored through good stretches of it and I definitely didn't have my whole attention on the last few episodes. Um... it's not very good? At all?

Colleen Wing is the only good part of the show. Why couldn't they give us the Colleen Wing show?

Danny Rand is terrible. And he's terrible in specific ways that I particularly hate. It reminded me of my frustration with Sarah Connor in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, where she makes tactical mistakes that a character like Sarah shouldn't make, and you're not clear if it's because of sloppy writing or if it's a deliberate character decision that you don't agree with. But for example:

Having been believed dead for fifteen years along with his billionaire parents, Danny Rand shows up back in New York. He enters the corporate headquarters of the company his father ran, and asks for a meeting with his father's business partner, which is denied. Whereupon any sane adult would, you know, ask to schedule an appointment later, but Danny instead beats up the security guard and sneaks up to the executive suite. He learns that his father's business partner is now dead and that the business partner's children now run the company, but they don't believe that he is really Danny, since Danny is dead, and they have security escort him from the building. Whereupon any sane adult would, you know, get a lawyer and start the process of belatedly probating their parents' estate. Or if they don't know that much about how corporations work, get advice from someone they trust... who would tell them to get a lawyer and start probating their parents' estate. What does Danny do? Danny spends the next several days stalking the company's new executives and harassing them. Yes, that is what Danny Rand does. It takes three episodes for Danny to accidentally get a lawyer- within a day in story time of doing so, he is restored to his shares of the company. Those three episodes without a lawyer are so fucking infuriatingly unnecessary. GET A FUCKING LAWYER, DANNY. IT'S WHAT GROWN-UPS DO.

The story logic behind Danny's stupidity seems to be that he was taken from his New York life at age 10 and raised in a mystical woo-woo orientalist comic book warrior monastery in the Himalayas. He doesn't know how corporations work, he doesn't know how New York society works, and he therefore just runs around and breaks things like a kid in a room full of breakable things. But this is a really dumb and uninteresting characterization- ostensibly he spent fifteen years being trained into a finely honed and disciplined weapon by experienced warriors- none of that discipline, none of the patience or combat intuition you'd expect from such training ever surfaces in his characterization. Why should I root for Danny Rand to triumph? Why should I even root for him to learn when he's apparently squandered fifteen years of teaching?


Mar. 17th, 2017 08:18 am
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
A note: Dropbox has dropped support for its Public dropbox folder, which is a folder where everything you placed in it got an automatically generated http link. I used this for the past several years for image hosting, on Dreamwidth and on AO3, as well as for hosting a few musical playlists I uploaded to this journal. All of these links are now broken.

I intend to fix all of the AO3 ones, and maybe a few of the significant ones on DW, but if you see a broken link somewhere, please let me know so I can fix it.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
Relevant to my past post on The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, here's Zach Braff reading part of the poem as if it really were a love song:
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
I got two more great Magic Flute fics for [community profile] purimgifts. They were written by [ profile] zdenka. I am surprised. Oh wait, no, that's not the right word. What's the opposite of surprised? Unsurprised? That is what I am. I was pretty certain they were by [ profile] zdenka by the first fic, and I am delighted that I got fantastic Zauberflote fics for Purimgifts. Queen of the Night FTW!

These fics are so great at capturing the essence of who the Queen of the Night is, how she stands up for emotional connection and music and happiness in the war against a cold, unfeeling, punitive rationalism.

The Abduction of Pamina: Part 1 (671 words) by Zdenka
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Die Zauberflöte | The Magic Flute - Mozart/Schikaneder
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Königin der Nacht | Queen of the Night / Pamina's Father
Characters: Königin der Nacht | Queen of the Night, Pamina's Father (Magic Flute)
Additional Tags: Implied/Referenced Character Death, Kidnapping, Collection: Purimgifts Day 2
Series: Part 1 of Purimgifts 2017

The Queen of the Night has a dispute with her husband.

The Abduction of Pamina: Part 2 (776 words) by Zdenka
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Die Zauberflöte | The Magic Flute - Mozart/Schikaneder
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Königin der Nacht | Queen of the Night, Pamina, Three Ladies (Magic Flute), Sarastro (The Magic Flute)
Additional Tags: Collection: Purimgifts Day 3
Series: Part 2 of Purimgifts 2017

The Queen of the Night takes back her daughter.

As for me, I was delighted to revisit the complex Toby Ziegler/Andie Wyatt relationship once more. It's one of my favorite relationships in the West Wing, and obviously Toby is my favorite West Wing character by far. As I did in a past Purimgifts fic, I wrote my stories from Andie's point of view- constantly frustrated by Toby, but no less in love for it. It was a comfortable voice to slip into, and as a result these stories were really fun to write.

As an Easter Egg of laziness on my part, the graphics I used to illustrate the fic are screenshots from my Toby vid "Circles (Ma'Agalim)".

The Plan Part I (475 words) by seekingferret
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The West Wing
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Andrea Wyatt/Toby Ziegler
Characters: Andrea Wyatt, Toby Ziegler
Additional Tags: Weddings, Collection: Purimgifts Day 1
Series: Part 1 of The Plan

In which Andie has an evil plan.

seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
[community profile] purimgifts has been revealed!! The fic is here!! At least Day One- two more days of fic and art to go!

I received a lovely Magic Flute fic about the Queen of the Night and her relationship with Pamina. It's really sweet and shows the maternal side of the Queen without hiding her brutality or her pridefulness. I'm looking forward to probably two more Magic Flute fics in the coming days! Freilichin Purim indeed!

Star-Flaming Queen (515 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Die Zauberflöte | The Magic Flute - Mozart/Schikaneder
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Königin der Nacht | Queen of the Night, Pamina (The Magic Flute)
Additional Tags: Collection: Purimgifts Day 1

The Queen of the Night teaches Pamina how to use her power.

I have read some of the other fic in the collection, and liked some of it quite a lot, but there are several fics that I didn't write but which I conceivably could have, so I think I'll hold back on recs until author reveals to keep it from being obvious what I wrote.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
This is your regular reminder to back shit up. I just reinstalled the OS on my desktop last night because it was kernel panicking and refusing to boot. Wheefun.

Mostly everything of importance had been recently backed up, or was kept in my permanently syncing Dropbox folder, with the exception of a couple of recently edited vid files. And I was able to boot into the machine using a live USB Ubuntu installer stick and copy the remainder of unbacked up stuff onto an external drive. So I didn't lose any data, and everything now seems to be running happily. But it was scary- I'm involved in a couple of really involved vid projects at the moment and losing any of them would have meant losing months of work.

EDIT: And then two days later, the same refusal to boot/ kernel panic again. Which means a)There is some colossal bug with an update to Ubuntu 16.10 that nobody on the internet is complaining about or b)I have a hardware problem. Likely candidates: Hard drive, RAM, thermal issues, CPU. Desktop is a several year old refurb I bought last summer that had the RAM poorly seated when it arrived, but after reseating it seemed to be working fine, and I added some brand new RAM of my own at that time. Hard drive is passing Ubuntu's startup disk check, but could still be the culprit, and so I've seized the opportunity to switch to a new SSD anyway. The room the machine is in is not very dusty and the fan is definitely noisily working, so while thermal issues are still possible they don't fully match the symptoms. If CPU is bad, fuck it, I'm tossing the machine.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
I had a really nice weekend.

Thursday night I baked hamentaschen for Shabbos dinner- a friend was coming out from New York to visit her sister who lives two blocks away from me, so I was invited over for dinner. Hamentaschen all came out tasty, and half of them came out looking like hamentaschen, too! Friday night dinner was a lovely time with good friends. Then I slept all of Shabbos day. Saturday night I watched [redacted] for my [redacted] vid. I hadn't watched it in years, but it holds up.

Sunday I met up with a friend in the City and we got knishes at Yonah Schimmel's and then wandered the city for a few hours telling stories about eldritch sacrifices in Times Square. Then I went uptown to another friend's game night.

We played Codewords, which I've played before once or twice and think is okay, but I'm not as fond of it as a lot of other people are. The idea is that there's a grid of words and you need to clue certain of the words words to a teammate with single word clues before the other team can do the same with their words, a la Password, but you're trying to clue as many of the words with one clue as possible without inadvertently cluing other words on the board, by coming up with a word that clues an exclusive connection between multiple of your words. My suspicion is that it's a game that a team could get good at together, and that it'd be a lot of fun playing with two teams who are well practiced as teams, but it's not anywhere near as much fun as a random pick-up party game because clues are just necessarily too vague to be formed by interesting connections.

We then played Anomia, which was a fun and silly shout a word that meets a category game that I liked, but it didn't blow me away.

We then played Dick, which is Apples to Apples using quotations from Moby Dick as the red cards. This was totally amazing and I'm so glad I acquired it. It has all the sublime filthiness of a good Cards Against Humanity set mixed with a surreality that comes of Melville's amazing gift for language. I was the only player who'd read Melville's novel, but that in no way impacted on players' enjoyment of the game- I think if anything, it was more fun to discover the delightful weirdness of random Moby Dick quotes for the first time. I do wish that they hadn't made use of some of Melville's more explicitly racist lines- they have a place in the novel, but they don't really have a place in a game.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
I bought it a couple months ago, but I've finally given Norah Jones's latest, Day Breaks, a few listens in the past few days. It's quite an impressive album.

The media around it has talked about it as a return to the sounds of her full length debut "Come Away With Me". Aside from the ubiquitousness of "Don't Know Why", "Come Away With Me" was not my first introduction to Jones and is still not my favorite mode of Norah Jones, though I do think it's also an exceptional piece of work. Each piece of it is a small mastercraft unto itself, a little story that doesn't push very hard but knows exactly what it is and where it lives in the history of jazz and pop. After that and the sudden success it afforded her, Jones created a marvelously odd set of albums bouncing off in all sorts of surprising and exciting musical directions, and I caught on that Jones was something more than just a pop-jazz songstress.

Purely in the sense of genre, Day Breaks is a return home to the language of "Come Away With Me", but Day Breaks is a very different, and in my opinion much better album. The musicianship both of Jones and her accompanists is worlds better, and conscious of this improvement in quality, the mixing brings the instruments more to the fore and blends Jones's stellar, remarkably controlled vocals deeper into the ensemble mix. There is a sharpness and a precision in the sound that isn't there on "Come Away With Me" that comes of bringing musicians of Wayne Shorter's caliber to play with Jones, and more importantly, comes of having producers involved with the musical intelligence to understand how to take advantage of bringing in people of that caliber (Jones co-produced the album herself- clearly she knows a thing or two she didn't know fifteen years ago).

I'm always going to love it more when Norah Jones makes weird shit with her friends like El Madmo, in which a group of brilliant musicians perform the perfect deliberately bad punk album (A song like "Carlo" is such a studied contradiction, with remarkable guitar work playing stupid-obvious chords and controlled vocals shout-singing the absolute dumbest punk lyrics). But if Norah Jones wants to return to her most commercial fare, this is absolutely the way to do it.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
Hey everyone, remind me that getting into arguments on Facebook rarely gets anything productive done and is usually going to hurt people I care about.


seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)

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