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British Columbia Election Results: Hijinks to Ensue May. 25th, 2017 @ 11:08 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The final seat count.

Liberals 43
NDP 41
Green 3

Seats needed for a majority: 44

(opens bag of popcorn)

Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works About Science and Scientists May. 25th, 2017 @ 10:29 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll



Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works About Science and Scientists Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

... wow May. 25th, 2017 @ 03:01 pm
[personal profile] rydra_wong
(x-posting from [community profile] thisfinecrew)

Holy shit:

The Guardian: Republican candidate charged with assault after 'body-slamming' Guardian reporter

The day before the Montana special election (which is today).

And it was caught on audiotape and witnessed by a Fox News team also present who wrote this about (avid Trump supporter) Gianforte's alleged attack on Ben Jacobs:

Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.

At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, "I'm sick and tired of this!"

Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer. Jacobs then said he wanted the police called and went to leave. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left.

To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff's deputies.


Fox News: Key Montana newspapers pull Gianforte endorsement after incident

Here's [personal profile] colorblue's post on the Montana election:

Action: Montana Special Election

If you are a US citizen, you can still donate to the last-minute get-out-the-vote effort for Gianforte's opponent, Rob Quist, and he currently has 5X matching:

ActBlue page for Rob Quist (thanks to [personal profile] loligo)

A mameligele, a pastramele, a karnatsele, un a gleyzele vayn May. 25th, 2017 @ 04:35 am
[personal profile] sovay
I want my country to figure out a way of being angry that its political system has been externally manipulated without becoming any more nationalistic than it already has, since that's being a disaster.

My mother showed me a one-panel comic with one of those hot dog carts on a sidewalk and two passers-by looking on. The cart's umbrella advertises it as "Vlad's Treats"; the menu is "Borscht—Caviar—Unchecked Power." One of the passers-by is saying to the other, "It's an acquired taste." It is very obviously a Putin reference, but it still rang off-key for me. I don't want to move back into an era where we have ideological purity food wars. It was embarrassing enough when French fries were briefly and xenophobically renamed in 2003. No one in my family has been Russian for more than a century (and Russia might have disputed whether they counted in the first place, being Jews), but my grandmother made borscht. I don't make it with anything like the frequency I make chicken soup with kneydlekh, but that's partly because kneydlekh will not make your kitchen look like you axe-murdered somebody in it. I order it every chance I get. For my mother's seventieth birthday, my father took her to a Russian restaurant especially for the caviar. It can't be much of an acquired taste if as a toddler I had to be stopped from happily eating the entire can my grandparents had been sent as a present.

And let's face it, if I get this twitchy (and vaguely sad that at four-thirty in the morning there's nowhere I can get borscht in Boston), I assume the dogwhistles are much louder for people for whom Russia is closer than their great-grandparents. Can we not do McCarthyism 2.0? Especially since we sort of have been for some years now and it's, see above, not so much working out?

Current Music: Golem, "Rumanye"


Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon May. 25th, 2017 @ 12:48 am
[personal profile] sovay
Tonight in unexpected numismatics: identifying two kinds of coins in five different writing systems for my mother. The former had classical-looking pomegranates on the obverse and were obviously Israeli because they said so in Hebrew, English, and Arabic; they turned out to be Israeli pounds or lirot issued between 1967 and 1980 and the design of a triple branch of budding pomegranates looked familiar to me because it was patterned after the shekels issued in the first year of the First Jewish Revolt (66–67 CE). My grandparents almost certainly brought them home from their visit to Israel in the mid-1980's. The latter were very worn, thin copper or brass cash and I thought Chinese, which meant the latest they could have been issued was 1911; they turned out to have been struck in Guangdong in the reign of the Guangxu Emperor, specifically between 1890 and 1908, and the script I didn't recognize on the reverse was Manchu. We have no idea where they came from. I really appreciate the role the internet played in allowing me to stare at images of different kinds of cash until I recognized enough characters to narrow my search parameters, because I don't actually read either Chinese or Manchu. I mean, I know now that the Manchu for "coin" is boo and it looks like this and the Chinese inscription on the obverse of that issue is 光緒通寶 which simply means "Guangxu currency" (Guāngxù tōng bǎo) and the reason it took me forever to track down two of those characters turns out to be the difference between Traditional and Simplified Chinese, but seriously, without the internet, that would have just been a lot of interesting metal to me.

(Me to [personal profile] spatch: "This is ridiculous. If I can read cuneiform, I should be able to read Chinese. I feel incredibly stupid." Rob to me: "You can't call yourself stupid if you're teaching yourself Chinese!")

Current Music: Bob Dylan, "Neighborhood Bully"


Pompeii has nothing to teach us May. 24th, 2017 @ 05:44 pm
[personal profile] sovay
After not sleeping for more than a day and a half, I stayed asleep for nearly twelve hours last night. I dreamed of walking out in the rain to watch cartoons at a historic theater in New York that could be reached by walking into Harvard Square. I almost left my bathrobe at the theater. Sometimes you get complex, imagistic dreams full of narrative significance; sometimes this happens.

I saw the news of Manchester yesterday morning. I was in the process of posting about a nearly sixty-year-old movie in which a terrorist bombing figures prominently. It would have been nice for that aspect of the film to have dated as badly as its Cold War politics, but even the Cold War politics have become popular again these days. I don't want to speak for a city that isn't mine: I wish everyone strength and safety. Title of this post from H.D.'s Blitz poem The Walls Do Not Fall (1944).

(I am not pleased that just because the man in the White House does not understand security, privacy, or boundaries, apparently whole swathes of the U.S. intelligence community have decided to follow suit.)

Some things from the internet—

1. It is not true that I had no idea any of these events were actually photographed, which is my problem with clickbait titles in general (seriously, the one with Tesla has been making the rounds of the internet for a decade), but this is nonetheless an incredibly interesting collection of historical photos. The one of a beardless van Gogh is great. The records of the Armenian genocide, the Wounded Knee Massacre, and Hitler in full-color Nazi splendor are instructive. I am way more amused than I should be that thirty-one-year-old Edison really looks like a nineteenth-century tech bro.

2. Courtesy of [personal profile] moon_custafer: "ZEUS NO." I am reminded of one of my favorite pieces of Latin trivia, which I learned from Craig A. Williams' Roman Homosexuality (1999/2010): that Q. Fabius Maximus who was consul in 116 BCE got his cognomen Eburnus because of the ivory fairness of his complexion, but he got his nickname pullus Iovis—"Jupiter's chick," pullus being slang for the younger boyfriend of an older man—after he was hit by lightning in the ass.

3. Courtesy of [personal profile] drinkingcocoa: "James Ivory and the Making of a Historic Gay Love Story." I saw Maurice (1987) for the first time last fall, fifteen years after reading the novel, and loved it. I should write about it. I should write about a lot of movies. I need to sleep more.

4. All of the songs in this post are worth hearing, but I have Mohamed Karzo's "C'est La Vie" on repeat. You can hear him on another track from the same session—covering one of his uncle's songs, his uncle being the major Tuareg musician-activist Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou—here.

5. Well, I want to see all of this woman's movies now. Like, starting immediately: "Sister of the sword: Wu Tsang, the trans artist retelling history with lesbian kung fu."

Current Music: Mohamed Karzo, "C'est La Vie"


An updated guide to my review categories May. 24th, 2017 @ 04:12 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
An updated guide to my review categories

Not the Onion May. 24th, 2017 @ 12:04 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Anne of Green Gables proves child labour is good! And Batman proves that we don't need cops, just highly motivated oligarchs in tights.

Red Girls by Kazuki Sakuraba May. 24th, 2017 @ 09:55 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


Red Girls by Kazuki Sakuraba

Reds Under the Bed May. 23rd, 2017 @ 06:25 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


Reds Under the Bed

Suggestions welcome.

It's been so long since I've played cricket, I want to see what I can do May. 23rd, 2017 @ 11:10 am
[personal profile] sovay
I knew I would have trouble with Joseph L. Mankiewicz's The Quiet American (1958). I had known about it for years: it was the bad movie version of a book my parents liked. When a more faithful adaptation was released in 2002, directed by Philip Noyce and starring Michael Caine, it was received with such relief by my mother that I got her the DVD as soon as it came out. When a Mankiewicz retrospective came through the HFA a few years ago, we saw People Will Talk (1951) and Escape (1948) and 5 Fingers (1952) instead. I had already guessed there was no way that a close version of Graham Greene's 1955 novel—a prescient indictment of American involvement in Vietnam—could have made it unscathed through the Hollywood machine in the days of the Red Scare, not to mention imminent U.S. escalation in Vietnam. But it came around a few nights ago on TCM and I thought, all right, let's see how bad this gets.

In its favor, the film is beautifully photographed and cleverly cast. Otherwise it is a deliberate and insulting inversion of Greene's novel and a criminal fucking waste of Michael Redgrave. Spoilers everywhere because otherwise I'll just keep on swearing where the cats can hear me.

I'm a reporter. I'm not involved. )

But of course what Mankiewicz didn't have was the cultural or political permission to film a definitive adaptation of The Quiet American in the late 1950's. Trying to find out what the hell besides McCarthyism had happened to a director I had always considered basically lefty, I ran into the stranger-than-fiction fact that Lansdale—you know, the guy who ran General Thế for the CIA, so popularly if incorrectly associated with the character of Alden Pyle that his authorized biography was titled The Unquiet American (1988)—actually consulted on the film, where by "consulted" I mean "among other input sent Mankiewicz a three-page letter detailing the true history of the bombings at the Place Garnier and encouraging the writer-director to disregard it completely and blame the Communists." Okay, then. The end credits are dedicated "To the people of the Republic of Vietnam—to their chosen President and administrators—our appreciation for their help and kindness," which I doubt Mankiewicz as producer would have been able to secure without assurance of a positive spin on the present state of South Vietnam, five years in the film's future. Both Greene and his novel were banned by Diệm's government. Allen Dulles signed off on the script treatment. I have no idea if I can or should recommend this film to anyone. Certainly it is historically significant, attractive to look at, and it is a truth at least semi-universally acknowledged that Michael Redgrave distraught and disheveled is pretty hot, but as I shouted to [personal profile] spatch, "No amount of hot Michael Redgrave is worth intellectual dishonesty!" Your mileage, I guess. This betrayal brought to you by my engagé backers at Patreon.



1. Murphy had starred as himself in the 1955 screen adaptation of his 1949 autobiography, To Hell and Back.

2. I'd love to be able read her gesture postcolonially, as independent Vietnam rejecting both naïve America and paternal Empire, but I am pretty sure it's just your standard Code-mandated reminder that only heroes get the girl in the end. Either way, casting Phuong's relationship with the American in the light of tragically lost true love romanticizes and retroactively legitimizes his complete failure to see her as a person rather than a symbolic object to be saved.

3. In the 2002 film, she is played by the actually Vietnamese Đỗ Thị Hải Yến and, while she gets very little dialogue compared to her male co-stars, appears to possess an interior life in consonance with the novel, which several times suggests that she sees more than either of the men she lives with. Fowler likens her to a bird, to opium, to her namesake phoenix, to her own country, but he has at least the grace to recognize the existence of her independent self, of which she shares only so much with him: "But even while I made my speech and watched her turn the page . . . I knew I was inventing a character just as much as Pyle was. One never knows another human being; for all I could tell, she was as scared as the rest of us." Quite seriously, if anyone knows of literature or nonfiction revisiting the events of The Quiet American from Phuong's perspective à la Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) or Lauren Wilford's "Possessed: Vertigo Through Her Eyes" (2015), I'd be fascinated.

4. He filmed a similarly liminal Belfast for Reed's Odd Man Out (1947): he had a talent for showing cities as both their documentary selves and their expressionist reflections. I am charmed that his first solo credit as director of photography was Leslie Howard's The Gentle Sex (1943).

Current Music: Tiger Moth, "Sloe on the Uptake"
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Tiny island nation to gain first-strike potential? May. 23rd, 2017 @ 10:53 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Last remnant of sunken continent embraces Von Braunian technology.

The Takeover by G. C. Edmondson & C. M. Kotlan May. 23rd, 2017 @ 08:53 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


The Takeover by G. C. Edmondson & C. M. Kotlan

Here is a delightful thing May. 23rd, 2017 @ 09:38 am
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Via [tumblr.com profile] violent-darts:

AV Club: Meme becomes reality as Netflix orders Lupita Nyong’o and Rihanna’s con artist movie

Because we need it this morning.

Fuck terrorism, fuck Katie Hopkins and her vile cohorts, pre-emptively fuck Trump because presumably he's going to make some sort of statement about Manchester at some point and it's going to be awful (or at best the kind of vacuous blandness that means they've managed to make him stick to a script for a few moments), go awesome black women and making movies happen through the power of Twitter and delight.

May all the surviving kids at the concert be safe and reunited with their families soon and participating in the proud British tradition of recounting acts of terrorism in terms of the epic journeys that had to be taken because public transport was shut down (a la 7/7 -- Americans: "We weep for you!" British people: "I had to walk for FIVE HOURS").

ETA: Oh fuck they let him write at least part of it. Yes, of course Buttercup thinks the worst thing you can call someone is a "loser". Because winning is all that counts, and Buttercup is the winningest winner ever. Losing means you're wrong because winning is right.

No reason May. 22nd, 2017 @ 11:47 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Cut for size.

Read more... )

I support the event May. 22nd, 2017 @ 04:55 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
But I don't know what

The 50th Annual Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival will be the biggest celebration of multiculturalism in Canada that Waterloo Region has ever seen.


means, exactly.

Bundle of Holding: Shadow of the Demon Lord May. 22nd, 2017 @ 04:17 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll




In this fast-playing, low-prep March 2015 Kickstarter triumph, desperate heroes battle strange magic, unhinged cultists, and roaming mobs of undead while humanity's last great empire slides toward oblivion. If you love Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the Ravenloft and Midnight settings, Joe Abercrombie's The First Law novels, or heavy metal music, get this bargain-priced collection of DRM-free .PDF ebooks and confront the Void That Hungers.
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A sinkhole has just opened up in front of Mar-A-Lago May. 22nd, 2017 @ 08:18 pm
[personal profile] rydra_wong
No, a literal one, not (just) metaphorical. I had to Google to be sure. Reality is getting way too on-the-nose lately.

Also: TPM: Trump Denies He Said ‘Israel’ When He Shared Israeli Intelligence With Russia

That's right: while in Israel, Buttercup spontaneously confirmed for the press that Israel was the source of the uber-classified intel he shared with the Russians without the Israelis' permission, but he thinks it's all fine because he didn't say the word "Israel" while in the room with the Russians (just, you know, now, on TV, in front of the entire world, in case the Russians had any remaining doubt about where the intel came from), so that's okay.

Books Received, May 13 - 19 May. 22nd, 2017 @ 09:58 am
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Books Received, May 13 - 19

Oh, what ropes we pull, what we unravel, my love May. 21st, 2017 @ 07:10 pm
[personal profile] sovay
Today's major achievement: writing to the Department of the Interior about the ongoing national monument review, which could (and feels designed to) result in the rescinding of federal protection from more than two dozen established national monuments. Rather obviously, I do not believe this is a wise idea.

We live already in a world where it is far too uncertain whether our grandchildren will be able to enjoy the land and the seas as we knew them. )

If you wish to send a letter or submit a comment of your own, the deadline regarding Bears Ears National Monument is the end of this week, May 26th; the deadline for all other monuments is July 10th. Some of the land in question is sacred; some of it is merely irreplaceable. Thanks to [personal profile] truepenny for the heads-up.

Current Music: Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow, "Calling Mountain"

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