Vividcon!

Aug. 4th, 2017 03:34 am
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Like last year, I had airplane trouble, but unlike last year my flight was not cancelled, just delayed three and a quarter hours! I am now at Vividcon, it is now after 2 in the morning though my East Coast brain still believes it's after 3 in the morning, and I should be sleeping.

Also [personal profile] ghost_lingering owes me a drink- while we were commiserating over her delayed flight at LaGuardia and my delayed flight at Newark, we decided to race to Chicago- the winner would have to buy the loser a drink. She beat me by about fifteen minutes, proving a miserable night was had by both of us.

But I am so excited for todya at the con! My jazz panel! Vid Roulette! Vividcon Shabbos! Premieres! Other cool vidshows! Many many awesome people!
seekingferret: Photo of a button saying "Yes You Can Argue with Me" (argument)
I think this is a really interesting question the Talmud in Sanhedrin deals with, using the model of Moses and Aaron.

If two people disagree about something involving money, they can sue in court and have the court issue a ruling over who is right. There will be a clear winner and a loser and it will be unambiguous who is who, and this may result in bad feelings lingering between the two parties afterward. The result may be just according to Torah law, but that justice may not necessarily be the only thing that matters in the interpersonal relationship.

So suppose you valued peace between people more than you valued getting the 'correct' resolution to the dispute. You might, when approached by two disputants, suggest that rather than trying their case in Beit Din, they first talk to a mediator or arbitrator who can help them figure out a way to settle things out of court in a way that makes everyone get something. According to Talmudic law, such a mediation agreement is generally binding- if both parties agree to the settlement, they can't then go to a Beit Din and ask for justice, unless there was some corruption in the selection of the mediator.

This might seem like a better approach in a lot of situations. Some of the Rabbis in Sanhedrin say it's an obligation on the judge to suggest mediation if they think it will help. But others raise really salient objections.

What if you're a judge and two disputants come to see you. One is rich and powerful, the other is poor. They start telling you about the case and ask if you'll judge it for them. You hear enough detail to know that if you hear the case, the rich man is likely to lose. Is it corrupt for you to suggest mediation, knowing that the outcome will likely be better for the rich man than if you were to enact full justice? Perhaps, because you're not supposed to favor a rich man over a poor one as a judge. BUT what if the virtue of peace is greater than the virtue of justice? Perhaps it's more important to achieve a resolution where both the rich and poor men are satisfied, even though it means harming the poor man financially?

The classic homiletic is that Aaron was rodef shalom, a pursuer of peace at all costs. Whereas Moses believed in seeking true justice even when it harmed the peace.

The Talmud finds a middle ground. Its rule for judges is that they can propose mediation if they fear that they will be forced to rule against the powerful person, however once they hear enough of the case to know that they are likely to rule against the powerful person, they cannot propose mediation. That is, it's corrupt to act when you are sure that your actions are benefitting the rich person, but when it's merely a possibility that it will benefit the rich person, it's okay even if you're hoping for that possibility.

Within this principle, the dispute is between Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya and Resh Lakish over when the moment is when they've heard too much of the case to offer mediation. Rabbi Shimon holds that as soon as they've heard the case, they've heard too much. Resh Lakish holds that even after they've heard the case, as long as they've not made up their mind, they can suggest mediation. This seems to be a dispute about optics vs. intention. Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya thinks optics matter for justice, if the appearance is there that the judge pushed for mediation to favor the powerful person, it is a corruption of justice, while Resh Lakish thinks that so long as the dayan didn't act corruptly, the optics are less important than the pursuit of peace.
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This past shabbos was the monthly Shabbos afternoon picnic. Temperature was in the high nineties and the park was a little under two miles away, so I got a workout walking over to the picnic. We hung around drinking beer and tossing a frisbee and talking about superhero movies and it was a lovely time.




Monday night was my regular biweekly rpg night- we're questing in the Crimea for a lost Eastern Orthodox monastery rumored to have a mystical weapon capable of holding back the apocalypse. My favorite dialogue exchange of the night.

Me: We're searching for the daggers.
NPC Priest: So you're... treasure hunters?
Me: Well... technically, I guess. But we're ethical treasure hunters. We believe in catch and release!

The session ended on a cliffhanger with the sword wielding cultist lackey about to detonate a dynamite vest just outside the entrance to the monastery.



Later in the week, I'm supposed to get a drink with the daughter of one of my father's co-workers. My father didn't exactly do a great job selling the shidduch. It's better than the time all I was furnished was my potential date's height, but I'm not entirely sure on what basis my dad thinks we'll be compatible other than his desire for grandchildren. But whatever, I'm at the point where I'll consider any suggestion if it seems to come from a well-meaning place. There's little harm in going out for a drink.



And next week gets exciting. I fly to Chicago for Vividcon a week from Thursday. I'll be modding a panel on vidding jazz music, premiering a vid, and looking forward to lots of fun hanging out. Sunday I fly Chicago->New York->Amsterdam->Helsinki and then I'll have a couple days of exploring the city on my own before Worldcon. I don't really know what I'm going to be doing at Worldcon other than the usual, I haven't really given it much thought. I skimmed the panels but didn't see anything all that exciting. I'm sure there'll be entertaining things to do and the Hugos should be a blast, but mostly I'm going to Worldcon because I'm excited about Helsinki and because it's a place I go just to hang out with SF fans from all over the world. My parents don't understand this. My mother, whose ideas about cons all come from TV, grills me about whether I'm going to be wearing a costume, and which famous people I'm going to see, and seems disappointed when I tell her it's mostly just about hanging out and talking scifi. But whatever.


I'm also hoping at Vividcon to pass out discs for Vid Roulette. A while back at Dollar Tree there were a bunch of DVD multipacks on sale for a dollar a piece and I bought three or four. Each multipack has several DVDs in it and each disc has several movies, and most of the movies look terrible. I feel like it could be fun to randomly distribute the DVDs to vidders, sight unseen, and see what vid they can make from their randomly assigned disc. Hopefully I'll get participation for that.
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I noticed the Daf Yomi cycle of daily Talmud study was working its way around to the start of a new tractate and decided to try to get back on board. Sanhedrin daf 2 started last Tuesday.

I picked up Daf Yomi at the beginning of the cycle and learned all of Berachos and the first quarter of Shabbos before I fell off. That was a couple of years back, I think I lost momentum when we lost power for a week after Sandy and never regained the habit. This time around, I'm still figuring out how to build the habit- I've slipped behind a couple of days already.

Masechet Sanhedrin contains the laws of the Jewish legal system- courts and judges and the evaluation of evidence and so on. It also contains digressions of all sorts because the Talmud is the most ADD legal text ever. I'm given to understand that the court system described in Sanhedrin lasted only a couple of hundred years at most, in the Second Temple era, and when the Gemara is describing its details, after the Churban, the system was largely no longer in place. So I think understanding its meaning in a modern setting requires a little bit of creativity- you have to try and read it as a philosophical exploration of the meaning of justice and the best ways to attain it. You also need to recognize it as an act of creative historical reconstruction on the part of the Rabbis, the analysis required to rediscover the legal system that represented for them not merely a lost cultural and legal heritage, but an ideal of perfected justice. The legal system described in Sanhedrin is a fusion of what we would think of today as a typical secular legal system, with wise, theoretically neutral judges appointed to adjudicate interpersonal conflicts and exact punishment for violators of the law, alongside a theocratic legal system where mystical invocations of God's name reveal the just path forward. God's guidance of just judges underpins the system, which doesn't truly hold together in the absence of God.

Nonetheless, a lot of the teachings of Sanhedrin still have value today, both as general principles of how to attain fairness in resolving interpersonal conflict, and as the guiding ideas of the much scaled back Jewish legal system of Batei Dinim we have today. I was just describing to my father- an experienced lawyer who recently became a worker's compensation court judge- the fascinating Jewish legal conflict between two Brooklyn pizzerias across the street from each other. He was surprised by the field trip the Dayanim took to visit each pizzeria. That sort of trip is pretty much unheard of in the American legal system, where the judges' job is to listen to evidence presented to them by the parties and reach a judgement based only on legally presented evidence, not to act as investigator seeking evidence on their own. My father has complained from time to time about lawyers failing to present evidence in front of him that he believed would make it easier to rule in favor of their client, either out of laziness or some more complicated legal strategy. In those cases, all he could do was ask the lawyers if they had the evidence he was looking for, not go out and seek it. But in the Beit Din system, the responsibility of the Dayan is to reach a just conclusion even if it requires seeking information withheld by the parties.
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Yet the gods do not give lightly of the powers they have made
And with Challenger and seven, once again the price is paid
Though a nation watched her falling, yet a world could only cry
As they passed from us to glory, riding fire in the sky


I skippped out of the Dreamwidth meetup at Loncon for a half hour, making apologies to [personal profile] liv and [personal profile] starlady and others, to see Jordin Kare's filk concert. It left me weeping in sadness in places, and laughing in delight in others. I bought a CD from him afterward and thanked him for his music.

For the engineer sighed as he studied those plans
And he read the demented designer's demands
Then he called in his techs and he said to his crew
This guy seems to think that there's jobs we can't do
And parts we can't build so let's give him a thrill
We'll build his machine and then send him the bill


I'm sad to hear Dr. Kare passed away the other day. His music and his science inspired me constantly.
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When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

~Walt Whitman



I first encountered this poem in high school English, and I come across it again every few years. I can't explain entirely the rage it summons in me.

But maybe this is the point I wish to make. A friend mentioned the Randall-Sundrum model of the universe and I went to that wikipedia page to try to learn what that was. Pretty soon I was desperately linkhopping- I have a basic education in relativity and differential geometry, but pretty basic, and even the vocabulary I did learn at some point, it's been a decade since and I needed to refresh my memory.

So I clicked on anti-de-Sitter space and from there to Lorentzian manifold and from there to Riemannian manifold, and I want to point out something about these four articles.

The article on Randall-Sumdrum model begins "In physics" The article on Anti-de-Sitter Space begins "In mathematics and physics." The articles on Lorentzian Manifold and Riemannian Manifold begin "In differential geometry." There's that tricksy slippage between physics and mathematics Whitman is writing about. Are the learn'd astronomer's "proofs, the figures," his "charts and diagrams" a meaningful and interesting representation of the actual stars, or are they just lifeless mathematical models that lack the "mystical" potency of observing the stars with the naked untrained eye? Aside from answering this question, though, the distinction is, I think, actually important to doing physics. Because if you theorize that spacetime takes a certain shape that can be modeled by a particular manifold, and then your measurements in an experiment don't match the manifold, you have to consider two different possibilities: One, that spacetime doesn't match your theorized model, and two, that your measurements were inaccurate. But if you're a mathematician working with a manifold and it doesn't match your expectations, only your math is wrong.

So this distinction Whitman writes on matters. There are the mathematical models of the stars, and there are the actual stars themselves, and if you forget this you end up confusing the manifold with the spacetime. A physicist needs both to do their work.

Nonetheless, I feel a great rage when I read Whitman's poem, a rage at the idea that the untrained eye bestows a more exciting and therefore truer reality than the subtle delver into the measureable mysteries of the cosmos can attain through experimentation and analysis. This may be dogmatic scientism on my part, but if so, let it be!
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Feel like it's worth saying that after a week in which Facebook was utterly brutal and soul-crushing, this week Facebook has been so affirming and it's worth reminding myself why I don't quit. Pictures of friends' weddings and kids and animals and summer trips. And two threads in particular on the Frum Fandom group I'm a part of: one discussing the halacha of whether Hogswarts ghosts, if Jewish, can be counted toward a minyan, and one debating whether roleplaying a character who worships the D&D pantheon is avodah zarah.

Sometimes Facebook is terrible. Sometimes it's pretty great.
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"In fairness, the Jews ARE terrible."


"Hey Facebook friends, it's been fun watching you guys argue about whether the Jews should be able to exist in public all week. Can y'all go back to posting pictures of cats now?"


"To play devil's advocate, the Jews ARE terrible."


"AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH"


Edit: I worry my sarcasm is unclear. This is not a dialogue- all four of these messages are posts I considered making and resisted.
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As happens in the periods when I am not persistently a reclusive shut in, I am cycling between exhaustingly overscheduled and returning to being a reclusive shut in.

Three weeks ago I had plans every night of the week- D&D Monday, Puzzled Pint Tuesday, writing with a friend on Wednesday, Peter Frampton & Steve Miller concert Thursday with my family, local Shabbaton for young professionals Friday into Saturday. So I took the next week off from social interaction- the only time I went out was to go out for dinner with my dad and brother. Instead I read a lot and vidded a lot. Last week I was back to busy- D&D Monday, writing with a friend Wednesday, adventures in the City on Thursday, a few long phone calls with friends. This week's the 4th of July, messing with the flow of the week. I'll probably go see my parents tomorrow.

For a bit, I was talking to someone a friend set me up with. She's a grad student in Boston, seems interesting, and weirdly it turned out that her father has been a customer of ours for the past several months. We spoke on the phone a few times, mostly about books. Which I was just fine with, I like talking about books and can pretty much do it indefinitely. There have definitely been people I've gone on dates with for whom their inability to talk critically about books was a turn-off (An English major who said her favorite book was David Copperfield but couldn't explain what she liked about it.), so I was having fun talking books with her. Then she told me she wasn't interested, so oh well, that's how it goes. Maybe I should have talked less about books. More likely one of my other social flaws ruined it.

She recommended Walter Isaacson's The Innovators, and while Isaacson's not the sort of writer I normally love, she made it sound interesting enough to try. It's a history of digital computing technology starting with Ada Lovelace and going to the present day of web technology (as of five years ago, so already way out of date. ;) ). Thematically, it's theoretically about emphasizing the idea of innovators, plural, how computer technology has long resisted the lone inventor no matter how much people try to impose the narrator. Unfortunately, Isaacson doesn't quite manage to resist the narrative himself. In a discussion of the Harvard Mark I, he discusses the divergent creation myths crafted by Grace Hopper, who attributes the Mark I to its heroic lone founder Howard Aiken, and IBM, which attributes it to myriad small innovations from 'faceless IBM engineers.' But though Isaacson admits that the IBM version has merit, he doesn't go through the effort of giving names and faces to the 'faceless IBM engineers'. As a faceless semiconductor engineer myself, this rankled. If your point is that the teams matter, talk about the teams! In the end, The Innovators is a fun, breezy hagiography of the famous inventors of the computer age that gestures toward a broader vision it's unwilling to take to time to draw out in full detail. I enjoyed it, but I mostly enjoyed it as a pointer to a long reading list of books I'd rather be reading that do the details. I also appreciated that it was a book where the female innovators weren't buried or written out of the history quite as much, though at times it came off a bit patronizing when Isaacson described people as 'woman engineers'.

Because I'm me, I noticed when putting the book on hold at the library that the system also listed a book called Fashion Innovators and I got curious because I know so little about fashion. I was hoping it was basically The Innovators for fashion, a survey level tracing of the history of modern fashion, with an emphasis on innovation both stylistic and technological. It's not. It's just 2-4 page capsule biographies of 20th and 21st century fashion personalities, rarely reaching any kind of interesting depth, but it has its moments. The two page capsule biography of Lauren Conrad asserts already a broader definition of who is a fashion innovator than I had expected, and the more extended biography of Liz Claiborne paints a fascinating portrait of her both as a businessperson and as someone with a clear sense of style that considers both the practical and the visual element. I would like to read the book I'd imagined it to be, if I can find it. And I should hunt down a full biography of Liz Claiborne, too.

I've also read the first two books of Faye Kellerman's Rina Lazarus/Peter Decker series, which was love at first sight. <3 Murder mysteries featuring an ambivalently Jewish detective raised by Baptists and the Orthodox Jewish widow he falls in love with. They get the details of life in Orthodoxy so perfectly right, and also the feel of wrestling with God, the doubt and uncertainty of living a Jewish life in a world that does not feel tailored for it. There's a lot of books in the series and I'm sure the sharpness will wear off, but I'm looking forward to the ride as long as it lasts.


I also read The Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter, which consists of obsessive close-reading of the first 4 books to try to point out all the clues Rowling embeds, firstly to the storylines of the book, and secondly putatively to the whole septology's myth-arc. Many of the supposed 'septology clues' didn't pan out, but some did, and it's fascinating to look as closely at the text as this book does.

And I read two and a half of Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series, about a family of monster hunters. Action adventure books that I can easily pick up and put down. Enjoyable but not compulsive-reading inducing.


I've also gotten back into the rhythm of biking several times a week. I bike to shul for mincha/maariv, which is a short ride but important for keeping up the habit. And yesterday I rode over to the Raritan River and rode along the river for several miles in the park... total trip about 8 miles. Not all that much compared to my friends who talk about the fifty mile rides they go on, but it's a lot for me, and it was a big deal that my legs don't feel like rubber today after the trip. And it was a pretty ride, and a lot of fun.
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Title: Feasting and Dancing (The Disney Princesses Remix
Fandom: Star Wars
Vidder: seekingferret
Song: "This Year" by the Mountain Goats
Content Notes: Canonical Major Character Death, Violence, Child Abuse
Length: 3:39
Responsible for the lack of consistent title block from vid to vid: seekingferret
Summary The Leia version of this vid
Created For: [personal profile] niyalune
Thanks to: [personal profile] echan for betaing!
Originally posted: Here to AO3


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At the end of the story of Korach ben Itzhar, the cousin of Moses who leads a strange rebellion in Numbers 16, Moses says

Numbers 16:29-30If these men die the common death of all men, and be visited after the visitation of all men, then the LORD hath not sent Me. But if the LORD make a new thing, and the ground open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down alive into the pit, then ye shall understand that these men have despised the LORD.


'Make a new thing' is a doubled use of the same Hebrew root letters, and that root is the root used in Genesis 1 to describe God's Creation of the world, so trying to preserve some of the sense of the Hebrew we might render it 'Create a creation'. Which is terribly infelicitous, so.

There is a debate among the more philosophical commentators about the nature of miracles. Rambam holds that God set in motion the natural laws of the world- physics, in a nut shell, and then because God is the Unity at the center of creation, God is able to alter those natural laws to effectuate something outside of them. Ramban, instead, holds that all of creation is constantly and miraculously being instantiated by God and that what seem to be miraculous violations of the natural laws of physics are just naturally within God's power. Both Rambam and Ramban are incredibly subtle and complicated thinkers and it's hard to say what either meant. It's possible this is not a debate and that they're truly in agreement. I do not claim to understand their teachings, which is why this post. But let's assume this is a debate as at least a starting axiom.

There's a third position, one which is at the same time even more naturalistic than Rambam and less, or which may be what Rambam is actually saying, I'm not sure. And it derives from this moment in the story of Korach.

Pirkei Avot 5:6 : Ten things were created on the eve of the [first] Shabbat at twilight. And these are they: The mouth of the earth [that swallowed Korach in Numbers 16:32]; and the mouth of the well [that accompanied the Israelites in the wilderness in Numbers 21:17]; and the mouth of the donkey [that spoke to Bilaam in Numbers 22:28–30]; and the rainbow [that served as a covenant after the flood in Genesis 9:13]; and the manna [that God provided the Israelites in the wilderness in Exodus 16:4–21]; and the staff [of Moshe]; and the shamir (the worm that helped build the Temple without metal tools); and the letters; and the writing; and the tablets [all of the latter three, of the Ten Commandments]. And some say, also the destructive spirits, and the burial place of Moshe, our teacher, and the ram of Abraham, our father. And some say, also the [first human-made] tongs, made with [Divine] tongs.



This is a really complicated Mishna that I don't understand at all, but it seems clear from the fact that the first item on the list is the mouth of the Earth that it's the phrase "Create a creation" that is the source for this logic. (I don't have the sources for all of the other things in this Mishna. I think the fact that the other two mouths are mentioned sbusequently suggests that the Earth-mouth is the source for all three of those. And I'm pretty sure there's no Torah source for the bit at the end about tongs, which is why it's just part of the 'and some say'... all that is purely Midrash Aggada) The Mishna is saying that Moses asked God to invoke a miracle of creation and this mouth that had been created at Creation and set up to swallow Korach swallowed up Korach. And it raises a lot of questions. It seems to be a response to this question of the nature of miracles, and its answer is in one sense more naturalistic than the Rambam: Not only is the world run according to natural laws set in motion at creation, but even things that apparently work outside of the laws of nature are actually naturally set in motion at creation as part of a special step in creation that took place Bein Hashmashot of Erev Shabbat.

Yet this is a hugely problematic theory for Jews because it seems to propose a completely deterministic universe where an intervention like the Earth swallowing up Korach for sinning against Moses and God can be preprogrammed as part of creation. If this is the case, where is free will? Where is Korach's ability to choose on his own whether or not to sin, if this preprogrammed miracle Earth-mouth was created as part of the Creation of the World?
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Dear [community profile] fic_corner Writer

Thank you for writing me a story! My childhood favorites are not sacred and I'm interested in seeing however you see fit to explore them.

Here were my prompts:


Cyber.kdz - Bruce Balan
Fandom tl;dr: Teenage adventures with dial-up modems!

I love this fandom so much. The idea of the Net as this unregulated frontier where kids could make a difference because only their actions, not their appearances, mattered. And the found family, who bickered with each other endlessly but ultimately stood up for each other when someone needed it.

The Grounding of Group Six - Julian F. Thompson
Fandom tl;dr: Just an ordinary story about ordinary kids at an alternative school involving lots of camping


My usual request for this fandom is pure trollfic: Write a fluffy school story with none of the darkness of the original canon and act like that's all that's there. To see if you can lure unsuspecting people into the ridiculousness that is this book. Basically write a fic as if the cover story from the end of the book, where Group Six was just overlooked and nobody remembered to recall them, were true.

I realize this is a deeply specific request and I am fine if you disregard it and write something that actually engages with the story as it actually exists.

Westing Game - Ellen Raskin
Fandom tl;dr: Chess and mystery and money and wordplay and family, complicated family

I love everything about the Westing Game and its twisty, emotionally complicated payoff, and would love to see more about any character.

I also have this theory... let me dig it up.

Sam Westing is involved in a car accident leading up to his disappearance which is an extremely mysterious event. It is apparently real- Sykes's limp is real, not faked, per Chris, and the only limp in the book not the result of a Turtle kick. And it results in facial disfiguration for Sam, but of a sort that is dramatic enough to render him unrecognizable to his ex-wife when he is Sandy, but not enough that he cannot mask it (presumably with makeup?) when he is in his Northrup or Eastman guise. I do not understand the import of the accident. If the accident is what changed his outlook on life, why wait 20 years after for his revenge/game/reparations?

...For Turtle to be Sam's rightful heir, she has to ultimately 'win' the game, which most straightforwardly means either a)finding the fourth or b)beating Sam at chess, which JJ and Theo never managed and nobody else in the game ever attempted. But Sam is not the kind of person who happily loses games. Sam's game is set up so that neither Turtle nor JJ nor anyone else has to win, but... what happens to Eastman's money in that scenario, if Turtle loses? Does he have to set up another Westing game with new heirs to manipulate? Is there the possiblity that this is not the first Westing game he has run? Is the quest for heirs the thing which has occupied the twenty years since Westing's disappearance?



So basically I would love to see a take on a different Westing Game, a different grasping and overly manipulative attempt for redemption from Sam Westing.

Sizzle & Splat Series - Ronald Kidder
Fandom tl;dr: Youth orchestra members, clarinetist and tubist, team up to fight crime.

Hans Kleiman is my favorite character in the series but I'll take anything with Sizzle and/or Splat. I love Kleiman's fusion of games and music, as a passionate enthusiast of both myself. I wish there were more of him, I wish he didn't have to die to impel the story's action, because his chemistry with Sizzle is wonderful.

Star Voyager Academy - William Forstchen
Fandom tl;dr: Book 1: Harry Potter at Starfleet Academy. Book 2: Harry Potter on his first mission for Starfleet. Book 3: Harry Potter is an alcoholic former Starfleet officer enlisted to make first contact with aliens

I think I'd like to actually see the war, you know? The part bizarrely skipped between books 2 and 3, where everything went to shit in utterly predictable but no less tragic ways.

i ship Matt/Justin, I ship Tanya/Justin, I ship Thor/Jason, I ship Tanya/Madison... Not so interested in Justin/Brian or Matt/Brian, I think. And I'd also love gen. Falcon fighting gen! Complicated morally ambiguous battle gen! Academy hijinks gen!
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Rabbi Joseph Dweck's lecture on male homosexuality and Torah

Rabbi Dweck's Sefaria source sheet

Rabbi Dweck's subsequent clarifications on his lecture




Presented without specific comment on the content (I am prepared to discuss the content privately if asked). I don't agree with everything Rabbi Dweck teaches here, I don't disagree with everything Rabbi Dweck teaches here, but I admire him greatly for the bravery and kiddush Hashem of risking his career to move this conversation forward in our community. And the fact that these teachings could ruin his career breaks my heart, because there are too many lives at stake in this conversation. The Orthodox community needs to be more honest with ourselves about that.
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Oh man, when I was a kid I used to run home after school to watch Batman reruns on WPIX 11. I'm pretty sure I didn't know they were reruns, I just knew that they were awesome. I was obsessed with the show, with the POWs and the BAMs and the ZAPs. My grandmother sewed me an Adam West Batman costume for a birthday one year and I proudly strutted around the house.


When I heard the news this evening, I popped in my DVD (I have two complete sets, a bootleg set from before the official DVD set was released, and the official release) and watched The Bookworm Turns/ While Gotham Burns, which I remembered as always being one of my favorite episodes. Roddy McDowall as the Bookworm, a failed novelist turned thief, who conceives of his crimes as novels, with serial chapters and plot twists galore. I watched and I remembered little preteen Ferret, thrilled to death with the idea of a crime where having memorized the complete works of Hemingway and Cervantes could help one crack the case. Where the villain pauses before executing his crime to remind his henchmen that in Burns, it's "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men', not 'the best laid plans'. Adam West's Batman was always absurd (He stops Robin while in the midst of climbing sideways up a building to remind him to always climb with two hands on the rope; He stops the Bookworm's gang before a fight to remind them to set aside their glasses lest they get damaged.), but there was a message behind it: a message about the power of intelligence and moral behavior to triumph over brute strength and selfishness. Crime doesn't pay.




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For [personal profile] morbane

A Playlist of Interesting Instrumental Music

"River Pulse" - Anoushka Shankar

Shankar is ravishingly, ferociously talented on the sitar, in ways that feel so individualistic that comparisons to her famous sitarist father don't seem useful.

"Carmen Fantasie- Movement 1" - Anne Sophie Mutter

I love the whole thing, a virtuoso violin adaptation of themes from Bizet's opera, and I particularly love Mutter's rendition, but here, have a taste and see if you can choose not to seek out of the rest.

"Death by Triple Fiddle"- Edgar Meyer, Joshua Bell, Sam Bush, Mike Marshall

-So many fiddles! So fast! And Joshua Bell's electrifying solo!

"Mah Yedidus" - Andy Statman and co.

-I just mentioned Statman's concert last week. This song... It's a bluegrass rendition of a Jewish song traditionally sung at Shabbat lunch. I love the fusion so much.

"Caravan" - Fanfare Ciocarla

-Romanian wedding band cover of a Duke Ellington classic

"King Porter Stomp" - Wynton Marsalis

-An elegant modern take on one of the THE essential jazz tunes... which honestly I am putting here because I HATEd leaving it off the playlist I made for [personal profile] liv.


Download morbane's playlist here


For [personal profile] bookherd

A Playlist of Songs I Can Listen to On Indefinite Repeat When I Have A Headache


"Twinklebell Canon" by Rodney Farrar's Fat Notes

-Cello choir mashup of Pachelbel's Canon and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. It actually works, trust me.

"Vexation of Erik Satie" - Jean-Yves Thibaudet

-A ridiculous piano piece that comes with instructions to play 840 repeats. Needless to say, it's not been performed in its entirety many times, and it's unclear if Satie ever really intended for it to be performed, but it hits a nice balance for me between repetitive and having enough harmonic content to hold a tiny part of your brain occupied.

"U Smile Slowed Down 800%" by Justin Bieber

-This was a weird viral hit a few years ago, and I actually wrote a whole NaNo novel while listening to this on repeat. It's freakishly soothing.

"Sakura, Sakura" by Chanticleer

-Honestly you can't go wrong with anything by Chanticleer, right? This is a Japanese folk melody.

"Untitled 1" by Sigur Ros

-From their weird Hopelandic album (), spacy and gorgeous, with a clear sense that the band is operating in a different paradigm of time.


Download bookherd's playlist here
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
For [personal profile] liv

A Playlist of Jazz from the Last 20 Years

This turned out to be harder to make than I thought it would be... I cut a lot of great music to keep the time down to something sort of reasonable.

"Sleeping Wild" by Norah Jones

-Wonderfully insistent bass line, perfect minimalist piano solo, and simple, affecting vocals from Jones... a song that looks like it could've been song from her debut album except that the musicianship is better in every way.

"Hadasha" by Electric Masada

-Mutated version of the Klezmer/Avant Garde jazz fusion that John Zorn pioneered in the early '90s with Masada. This is from an early '2000s concert held in honor of Zorn's 50th birthday. A set of inspired musicians led by guitarist Marc Ribot, percussionists Cyro Baptista and Joey Barron, with extra weirdness contributed by Ikue Mori. And of course some wonderful saxophone from Zorn, reminding you at times of how much he's taken from Coltrane.

"Umbrella" by Postmodern Jukebox ft. Casey Abrams

- Um... It is a jazz cover of the Rihanna hit. Because it's silly. With winks to the standard "Singing in the Rain" for extra fun.

"Bear Town" by Polar Bear

-I originally was going to have both Polar Bear and Basquiat Strings hold down the fort for modern experimental jazz, but realized that was kind of redundant, since Seb Rochford drums for both. I went with this song, which has one of the best grooves of either band.

"Pointless Nostalgic" by Jamie Cullum

-For my money, Cullum is the best of the modern standards singers, with a bright tone and a willingness to borrow selectively from modern pop without sounding like he's trying too hard to create a crossover hit.

"Transit" by Darcy James Argue's Secret Society

-It's an argument that the big band is not yet dead. And a pretty convincing one, if you ask me.

"Transformation" by Terri Lyne Carrington

-Off "The Mosaic Project", an album featuring a range of female vocalists and an all-female jazz/funk band helmed by drummer Carrington. This song features vocals from Nona Hendryx of the soul trio Labelle.

"Optimism" by Vijay Iyer

-I struggled for a while trying to decide which song from Accelerando I wanted to include here, because I love the whole album so much. Iyer's piano sound is so exciting.


Download Liv's Playlist here




For [personal profile] chaila

A Playlist of Music That Could Maybe Possibly Be Wonder Woman Vidsongs??!?

Yeah, I dunno, [personal profile] chaila and I choose vidsongs based on such different criteria that the odds I give her anything useful are pretty low, but hopefully the songs are enjoyable on their own terms.


"Oxygen" by Renee Fleming

-"I wanna be cooler than T.V. / For all the kids that are wondering what they're going to be" List of previous fannish characters I have suggested vidding this song to: CJ Cregg, Birgitte Nyborg, Kara Danvers.

"Naima" by Karrin Allyson

-Lovely vocal cover of John Coltrane's ode to his wife.

"Legends" by Julia Ecklar

-"I remember Apollo, / Who flew the chariot of the Sun. / And I wonder of the legends they will tell / A thousand years from now."

"No Anthems" by Sleater-Kinney

-"To feel rhythm in silence / A weapon not violence / A power, power source". Also Sleater-Kinney for all the vidsongs!

"One of the Boys" by Gretchen Wilson

-"But I still got this little girl inside of me / That likes to be treated like a queen". A song where you'd have to work against the regressive country-music-ness of it, but I think all of the problem lyrics are at least potentially workable.

"We Can Rise" by Chana Rothman

-"Where on Earth will my help come from? / I come from heaven/ I come from Earth / I come from life / I come from my birth." Also, Hebrew for Gal Gadot? (Adapted from Psalm 121, fwiw)

"Sunrise" by Jefferson Starship

-"Two thousand years / Of your / God damned / Glory" Because Grace Slick is the best. And fuck the patriarchy.

"Laughing With" by Regina Spektor

-"But God can be funny/ at a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke." Because Diana's divinity is so interesting and complicated.



Download Chaila's Playlist here



[personal profile] morbane, your playlist may take another couple of days.
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
I haven't done this in a few years, and I had fun the last time...

Comment on this post and I'll make you a playlist. If you want to specify things you are looking for musically, you can, otherwise I'll just surprise you.
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
The [community profile] wiscon_vidparty vidshow had 19 premieres this year, which is amazing, and a lot of them are just incredible vids. I wanted to highlight some of my favorites:



Stamina (women's sports) by [personal profile] runawaynun

SO GREAT! I love the way it revels in the wonders of female physicality but also deals with the political and historical struggles that had to be fought to allow these women to become the athletes they did.

I Am The One Who Will Remember Everything (Harry Potter) by [personal profile] chaila

The most amazing McGonagall vid. It has so much going on, so many narrative throughlines, all of McGonagall's students and all of the ways in which she shapes them and they shape her. I actually reread Sorcerer's Stone today in its wake and all of McGonagall's scenes read SO DIFFERENTLY now.


Field Work (Imperial March) (Indiana Jones) by [personal profile] eruthros

So slyly ironic at first, so devastatingly incisive as it ramps up.
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
[community profile] jukebox_fest revealed its stories!

I got an awesome fic for David Bowie's "Starman".

Do Rock Stars Come From Outer Space? (1220 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Starman - David Bowie (Song)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Original Character/Original Character
Characters: Johnny (The Narrator), Claire, Claire's Father, The DJ, The Starman
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - 1970s, Science Fiction, Rock Stars, Glam Rock, Gender Identity, Romance, Hopeful Ending
Summary:

Rock stars are too beautiful to be mere human beings. They must be aliens...





Find the rest of the stories in the collection here.
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
It was great! I didn't really expect it to be great, but it was. The action was so kinetic and joyful- ZOMG Diana's smile when she's using her powers!- and it sat on top of harmonious thematic development about the difficulty and moral complexity of war. Diana questing to slay Ares, as if War were a thing that could be slain like a dragon, and then realizing that truth is a much deeper ideal and that standing up for those who can't protect themselves is a much worthier way of waging war against Ares than trying to slay him with a sword.

Chris Pine was really good as Steve Trevor, this world-weary doomed soldier who slaves his fortunes to Diana's because "there's only two choices- doing something, and doing nothing, and I already tried doing nothing." He is unapologetically sexist and so is everyone else in the movie, and that's not something anyone in the movie, even Diana, really tries to change. But he recognizes Diana's heroism and her power and he invests himself in trying to support it even when it costs him. [The world of Wonder Woman is a mess, and it's not getting better fast, but there is the chance for it to get a little better, and that's enough for Wonder Woman to fight for. It's a very gradualist feminism. I think it's striking that unlike in The First Avenger, where Cap has comic books and all sorts of imagery of legacy and inspiration, Wonder Woman doesn't really show mundanes being inspired by her example- other than one town that subsequently got wiped out by von Ludendorff.]


But mostly, DIANA WAS SO GREAT. (I am anxiously awaiting [personal profile] chaila's post(s) on the movie- nobody articulates the sheer joy of Diana fangirling as effectively as she does). LITTLE BABY DIANA MIMING USING A SWORD. DIANA WINNING HER FIGHT AGAINST ANTIOPE AND THEN GETTING BLINDSIDED WHEN ANTIOPE DOESN'T FIGHT FAIR... AND THEN DIANA NOT FIGHTING FAIR EITHER. DIANA AND ALL THE USES OF THE LASSO. DIANA NOT UNDERSTANDING HOW YOU COULD FIGHT IN A DRESS. DIANA READING ALL 12 VOLUMES OF CLEO's TREATISES ON THE BODY AND PLEASURE. DIANA CHARGING INTO NO-MAN'S LAND, BECAUSE SHE'S NOT A MAN. EVERYTHING SHE DOES IS AMAAAAAZING.


PLEASE CAN WE GET WONDER WOMAN 2??

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