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List of Completed Fics:
Ten Alternate Universes: Bernice Summerfield (481 words; Doctor Who & spinoffs)
Ten Alternate Universes: Kay Harker (606 words; The Midnight Folk et seq.)
Ten Alternate Universes: Havelock Vetinari (1062 words; Discworld)
New Flowers Bloom (100 words; Snow-white and Rose-red)
A week next Saturday at the Stork Club (401 words; Captain America: The First Avenger)

Read more... )
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Lois McMaster Bujold. The Curse of Chalion (re-read)
Lee Falk, Ray Moore. The Phantom: The Complete Newspaper Dailies volume 1
Gail Carson Levine. Fairest
Anne McCaffrey. The Ship Who Sang (e) (re-read)
Anthony Price. A New Kind of War (e)
John Scalzi. The End of All Things
John Scalzi. The Human Division
Ursula Vernon. Summer in Orcus (e)

In progress
Katherine Addison. The Goblin Emperor (e)
Terry Pratchett. The Last Continent (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books In progress
Pauline Scudamore. Spike

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Anthony Price. A Prospect of Vengeance
pedanther: (Default)
This is my first actual post to Dreamwidth. All the posts preceding this one have been imported from my old blog on Livejournal.
pedanther: (cheerful)
So, here's a thing that I wish I'd known an hour ago: Android devices' external/additional storage doesn't preserve a lot of the file properties I'm used to assuming a computer will keep track of. In particular, it doesn't keep a "file created" date or a "file last modified" date. (It does know one date, which is the file creation date if you created the file in that location on that device - if you moved it from another computer, or even from another folder on the same Android device, that's what date it remembers.)

The way I learned this was by moving a bunch of files onto my new Android device, and saving them to the external storage on the assumption that this was a sensible way to keep the internal storage free for important system files.

To be fair, I don't care about the file dates of all the files thus affected (and of those that I do care about, there's a significant chunk that I have backed up on a computer with a real file system, because I care about them in other ways too, so there is a place I can look up that information if I need it). But in a way, that just makes it more annoying, because it means that the significant files constitute a relatively small chunk of storage space, and I could easily and without any inconvenience have kept them in the device's internal storage if I'd known it would matter.

ETA: Or, on further investigation, perhaps not. Copying a file to the device's internal memory also loses a bunch of file property information and keeps only one file date, which is reset to the time the file was copied. The reason I didn't spot this immediately is that thereafter it functions as a "file last modified" date, updating each time the file is edited. Which is something, anyway, and for at least some of the files I was annoyed about is the thing that matters.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. This week I have five Christmas/end-of-year social events in six days; in no particular order: work, the Rep Club, the other theatre group that isn't the Rep Club, Toastmasters, and the brass band. Three of those have already happened, and all of them were on evenings when I would have had to give them a miss or leave early if I'd been in the Christmas Show, as I was saying last entry, which would have been regrettable.

Also on the list of things I'd have had to miss out on: going to see the WA Symphony Orchestra's annual public concert with the family. (Does that count as an end-of-year social event? I'm inclined to say not, because nobody fed me.)


2. The choral group I mentioned joining has finished up for the year. I've been enjoying it and will definitely be back next year.


3. I have been to two charity book sales recently. I donated a box of books to the first one, so I came out with a net decrease in the number of books taking up space in my house. Win!

A significant amount of the box I donated consisted of duplicate copies, many of them a result of seeing a book at a sale and going "I've always wanted a copy of that" and then finding when I got home that I already had one in the to-read pile. I managed to do it again at both of these sales, so I've already made a start on the next box...


4. So far since the new $5 note was released, I've only had one pass into my hands. It was weird and disconcerting and I spent it in the very next shop I went into so that I wouldn't have to keep looking at it.


5. At work, my computer finally got old and unreliable enough that the boss felt obliged to find room in the budget for a new one. This meant leapfrogging from Windows XP (yes, it was that old) to Windows 10, which despite my reservations has been relatively un-horrible. The worst of it were some initial issues with the wireless keyboard, which seem to have sorted themselves out, and a weird tendency to reboot itself without notice, which I think has been fixed now that I've tracked down the option switch that was set to "Reboot immediately after installing a system update" (the documentation says that that option will still wait until the computer is standing idle, but such was not my experience).

There's also the unanticipated side-effect that my computer at home, which had always felt speedy and powerful compared to the one at work, is now by comparison showing its age and small memory.
pedanther: (cheerful)

1. I have been to the cinema to see a movie for the first time since, according to my notes, July. The movie was Arrival, and it was worth going to see. I will probably go and see some more movies this month, because we have Rogue One arriving this week and then Moana in the post-Christmas summer season.
 

2. I finally got around to reading The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Edwards, which has been lurking in my to-read pile for years. The author is the wife of the film director Blake Edwards, aka the actor and singer Julie Andrews, and I'm pleased to be able to say I enjoyed it, although probably not as much as I would have when I was the target age and less capable of spotting the bits that are designed to impart important life lessons. Other things that stuck out to now-me that wouldn't have to child-me were the puns (especially having recently read the bit in Summer in Orcus where the child protagonist is scornful of the kind of puns adult fantasy writers put in children's fantasy), and the wise token adult's attitude to the designated adversary's concerns, which I felt should have had a hashtag on them saying "#notallhumans". I was very pleased that the designated adversary turned out to be not evil, just doing his best in very trying circumstances, and that the token wise adult was shown to be a human being with his own flaws and blind spots (and that he started listening to his former adversary more by the end), but I felt it could have done with an explicit call out that even though the designated adversary turned out to be wrong about this specific group of humans he had perfectly valid reasons to be distrustful of humans in general.

(PS. I probably would have identified with one of the children when I was a child, but as an adult the designated antagonist is definitely my favourite character.)
 

3. Another thing that's been sitting on the shelf that I finally got around to is the Big Finish audio drama Storm Warning, the first of their series featuring Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor. It was okay, I guess? I mean, I enjoyed it, but I'm not in a big hurry to find out what happens next. (Although part of that's obviously because I'm starting the series fifteen years late, so I already know from fandom osmosis quite a bit about what happens next.) And, to be fair, I've never been all that good at audio dramas; I don't tend to find them engaging enough to sit still through.
 

4. The Rep Club Christmas Show has been and gone. I was involved only as an audience member, which I think may have been the right call. On top of the reasons for making that decision in the first place, I'm now in a position to tell that I enjoyed watching it once but it would probably have worn a bit thin through a month of rehearsals and performances. (It would also have been a crimp on my social life that I'd have regretted, in terms of things I've been able to go to on what would have been show nights.)

The next Rep Club production is, as I've mentioned, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I've been cast as the socially awkward science nerd, which as you can imagine is going to be a stretch.
 

5. Fanfic rec: Third Wheel, in which Bruce Wayne makes his first official visit to Metropolis, and Lois Lane is assigned a celebrity profile that turns out to be more interesting than she expected, while Clark Kent investigates sightings of a mysterious bat-man.

"I've always wanted to learn how to fly," Clark said, sounding impressed.

"You should," Bruce said. "It's fun."

"It always seemed like it would be."

pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Joking Hazard is a card game along the lines of Cards Against Humanity, where the aim is to supply the missing part of a joke, but instead of one-liners it's three panel comic strips. That makes it a bit more involved than CAH, and will possibly mean that it takes longer for the novelty to wear off, but I suspect when it does I'll be as over it as I am over CAH, particularly since it has the same kind of sense of arguably-humor. (The game I played produced one or two actual jokes and a lot of strips where the punchline was "And then one of the stick figures does something rude and inappropriate".) It is only fair for me to admit, however, that the novelty did last all the way through the game I played, and I did kind of enjoy it.


2. I've played a few different variants of the card game Love Letter since I joined the gaming group; the most recent is Love Letter: Premium Edition, which uses the intial theme (the one with an actual love letter, as opposed to supervillains or hobbits) but includes extra cards that can be added to the deck if more people want to play. This is really useful at our gaming group, because the standard game is restricted to four players and usually there are more people than that who want to play; with the extra cards, a game can have up to eight players. Most of the extra cards have new abilities, some of which are intended to keep the game from dragging; for instance, in the standard game you can only get a victory point by winning a round, but the expanded game includes several other ways to gain victory points, such as a card that invites you to predict who will win the current round and awards you a victory point if you're right. Or a very interesting card which -- okay, the most reliable way to make sure a person doesn't win a round is to eliminate them from play, but one of the new cards awards the person who has it a victory point if they're eliminated. And of course they get a victory point if they win the round, so once someone plays that card everybody else has to try to steer the game so that they make it to the end of the round without a winning hand. What tends to happen a lot in practice is that someone will have a lapse of concentration and eliminate that player anyway, having forgotten why it's a bad idea. I've actually won a whole game that way.


3. Survive: Escape from Atlantis is a board game where the players are trying to evacuate the population of an island that's gradually sinking into a sea infested with carnivorous sea monsters, whirlpools and other hazards. It's not a co-operative game: each player has a particular group they're responsible for, there are a limited number of boats, and part of the gameplay is making the sea monsters go and bother somebody else. I enjoyed it a lot.


4. I got my old Magic: The Gathering cards out of storage recently, because I've noticed there's pretty much always Magic players at the gaming group even when nothing much else is happening. I haven't actually got to use them at a meet yet, but mentioning that I had them led to me getting invited to join a game of Magic: The Gathering: Commander, which is a variant of the game where several people fight each other simultaneously instead of one-on-one. This involves a different kind of deck from the usual one-on-one game; the player who was organizing the match kindly lent me one of his spares. I ended up being one of the last two players standing, I suspect largely because the more experienced players didn't see me as a threat and concentrated on knocking each other out. I very nearly won the match, too, but although I had all the cards I needed I didn't use them as well as I needed to, saving one up when I should have played it and playing others when I should have saved them. Well, I'll know better next time, if there's a next time.

The lost opportunity I regret most, although I don't think it would actually have changed the outcome, involved a card that lets the player swap the hitpoints of two opponents. At the point I drew it, one of the other players was nearly out of hitpoints, largely due to the efforts of another player who was not only in full health but had acquired extra hitpoints and had had to break out an extra hitpoint counter. Swapping their hitpoints would have been really entertaining. Alas, by the time I had the mana to use the spell, the weakest player had been eliminated, and the strongest had suffered a major reversal of fortune, with the result that the strongest player had only a three-point lead over the weakest remaining player. Much less entertaining.


5. I had played Tsuro before, and didn't think I liked it; it tends to be over very quickly and often ends in the last two players dying simultaneously, but it turns out to be a good game for filling in time while waiting for something else to happen. (The fact that I actually won a game probably also helped lift my opinion.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Ben Aaronovitch. The Hanging Tree (e)
Julie Edwards. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
Terry Pratchett. Jingo (e) (re-read)
Anthony Price. For the Good of the State (e)

In progress
Katherine Addison. The Goblin Emperor (e)
Ursula Vernon. Summer in Orcus (e)

Non-fiction books
Jimmy Maher. Let's Tell a Story Together (e)

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Terry Pratchett. The Last Continent
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. At the gaming group this week, we played Carcassonne and Splendor. First we played a two-player game of Carcassonne, which I won convincingly, then another person arrived and we played a three-player game, which I lost even more convincingly. Then we played two three-player games of Splendor, and I lost both times.

At the end of the evening, everybody happened to finish up early except the role-playing group, who were in the middle of battling a kraken that was trying to sink their ship. I hung around to see how that turned out; how it turned out was that the kraken destroyed the ship, but the adventuring party did manage to rescue most of the people on board by stuffing them inside some kind of hammerspace pocket their wizard conjured up. On the one hand: Lots of survivors, yay! On the other hand: Lots of survivors stuck in a hammerspace pocket hovering in midair over open ocean with no chance of anybody happening along to rescue them... The wizard explained that he had a theoretically sound plan for getting everyone back to dry land in one piece, but the venue was closing up so we didn't get to find out yet how well that was going to go in practice.


2. The local music school runs a small choral group for adults that I've been vaguely aware for a while, but hadn't got around to checking out due to having other things on and general shyness about putting myself into new situations. Recently I've had some more free time due to not being in any shows at present, which happened to coincide with the beginning of a new school term, so it seemed like a good time to check it out. I am enjoying it so far.


3. In a rare burst of decluttering enthusiasm, I've done something about the pile of Things I Put Down For a Moment Intending to Deal With Them Later that was gradually engulfing my study. It's now sorted into three boxes: things to be put away when I figure out where they go, likewise but with a good chance I'll be wanting them again before then, and things that actually need dealing with. Next step: dealing with the things in the third box.

In a bit of carry-over, I also did a thing with the box that's been sitting in the kitchen since I moved in, which nominally contained things that needed to be unpacked in the kitchen. It's now been separated into a small box of things that really do need to be unpacked, and a larger box of things I never actually used in the old kitchen and don't see myself using in this one either. Next step: Figure out how to usefully get rid of the second and larger box.


4. The new online community platform Imzy recently moved from closed to open beta, in case anyone's interested in checking it out. (Can't have communities without people in, after all...) My impression is that so far the more broadly-drawn communities, like Fantasy, are making more of a go of it than the communities based on more specific topics, but that may change as more people get involved.


5. Fanfic rec: Working Backwards by Starlightify. In which Clark Kent wakes up in Lois Lane's bed and has to figure out how he got there, and also who Lois thought he was at the time. Normally I find stories with this kind of premise acutely embarrassing, but this is written with a great deal of warmth and empathy and I enjoyed it unreservedly.
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
(anonymous). Little Spinners: Dancing Princess
Michael Dahl, Oriol Vidal. Little Monkey Calms Down
William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (re-read)
Kim Newman. Angels of Music (e)
Daniel Pinkwater. The Big Orange Splot (e)
Daniel Pinkwater. Lizard Music (e)
Terry Pratchett. Hogfather (e) (re-read)
Anthony Price. Here Be Monsters (e)
Robert Louis Stevenson. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (e)

In progress
Terry Pratchett. Jingo (e) (re-read)
Ursula Vernon. Summer in Orcus (e)

Non-fiction books in progress
Jimmy Maher. Let's Tell a Story Together (e)

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Ben Aaronovitch. The Hanging Tree
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. At the gaming group, last time I went, we played 7 Wonders: Duel. There were about half a dozen people interested in learning about it, so we ended up playing in rotation, where everyone got two games against different opponents and most people (including me) won the first and then lost the second.


2. I participated in the Multifandom Drabble Exchange on Imzy, because it seemed like a good excuse to check out Imzy and a good excuse to write some drabbles. I wrote one drabble, and attempted a second based on one of my recipient's other prompts but it refused to be squished down to 100 words.

* New Flowers Bloom expands a bit on some of the events that are summarized so briefly in the happily-ever-after paragraph of the fairy tale "Snow-white and Rose-red".

* A week next Saturday at the Stork Club is a shameless fix-fic for the end of Captain America: The First Avenger.

I received two drabbles, both for the TV series Ultraviolet (yay!). Neither of them seems to have been posted anywhere outside of Imzy (which is currently still only readable to the beta testers).


3. I have not signed up for Yuletide this year, though I may end up doing a pinch hit or a treat or something. This is my usual level of engagement with Yuletide, because I find that the most daunting part of Yuletide is thinking of things to ask for.


4. Kim Newman's new novel Angels of Music (a take on the Charlie's Angels premise populated with characters from 19th century genre fiction, including the Paris Opera Ghost as the mysterious faceless leader) is now available in a variety of formats. It's also been announced that his next book will be a short story collection with a theme of monsters, featuring a brand new Anno Dracula story titled "Yokai Town".


5. Ursula Vernon's new novel Summer in Orcus is being published online as a serial, with new chapters dropping twice a week. It's her version of the old "child dragged into another world for an adventure" genre.
pedanther: (cheerful)
We have completed our run of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It had some complicated staging and lighting requirements, and I was worried it wasn't all going to come together in time, but it was working well enough by opening night. (On closing night I felt as if we were stopping just as we were really getting the hang of it, but I always feel that way on closing night regardless.) It would have been nice to get larger audiences, but the people who did come enjoyed it, and that's sometimes all you can ask for in community theatre.

A few days after it closed, I read the original novel for the first time, which I'd decided during rehearsals that I wanted to do for comparison purposes but also that I would leave it until after the show closed so I wouldn't get confused if it turned out to be very different. It did turn out to be quite different, most obviously in the fact that it makes "Who is Mr. Hyde?" the big central mystery in a way that is now impossible. Another striking thing was that in the novel there is a minor character named Enfield who appears in only two scenes and exists mainly to trade exposition with the protagonist about the mysterious Mr. Hyde; in Noah Smith's stage version, Enfield has a greatly expanded part, becoming one of the six main characters and the biggest villain beside Hyde himself.

Next up for the Rep Club is the annual Christmas show, which this year is a vaguely Arthurian bit of business entitled A Knight to Remember. I will not be involved, as I have been in rehearsals or performances continually since March, and I feel the need for a bit of a break. Particularly since I have already been offered a part in the first show for next year.

The first show for next year is to be a musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The director first tried to do it here a couple of years ago, but that didn't work out for various reasons beyond anyone's control, and about half the people who were cast then have subsequently left town. Those of us remaining have been guaranteed parts in the second attempt if we're still interested (which I am), although not necessarily the same parts, because it will depend who auditions to fill the gaps and how the group dynamics shake out.

I've been vaguely pondering directing something again, but have no particular ideas about what.
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Mad King (e)

In progress
Terry Pratchett. Hogfather (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books
Eleanor Herman. Sex with Kings

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Ursula Vernon. Summer in Orcus
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. This year the music section of the annual performing arts festival, which in previous years has been held over a weekend, was further divided into vocal and intrumental sections and held over two weekends. This came about because last year we had about three days worth of entries crammed into two days, which was stressful for everyone. This year we had three days worth of entries spread out over four days, which was a lot less fraught; we could begin and end each day at a reasonable time and still have time for proper refreshment breaks between sessions, and there was one afternoon in each weekend given over to some very well-attended workshops run by the guest adjudicators. It does mean we need to find two guest adjudicators each year instead of one, but on the other hand it gives us more options in finding them, since we don't need to find one person who's strong on both vocal and instrumental music.


2. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde opens in a week. It's coming together pretty well.


3. I have been to the gaming group only once recently, as there have tended to be Jekyll & Hyde rehearsals scheduled against it. One of the X-Wing players, whose usual opponents hadn't made it, saw me wandering around at a loose end and recognised me as someone who occasionally watches them play, so he invited me to have a go. I had control of a small Rebel fleet, versus his swarm of Imperial TIE Fighters. There was an exciting moment during the battle where one of my ships was on a collision course with an asteroid, but I managed the dice rolls that converted it from "ship collides with asteroid, takes damage" to "ship hides on asteroid for a turn, takes no damage". It came down to one Rebel and one TIE fighter, but the TIE fighter won in the end. I enjoyed it okay once I started getting the hang of it, but I don't think I see myself becoming an X-Wing player who owns his own set; way too many little fiddly bits to obtain and keep track of.


4. I have finished playing through the storyline in Lego Jurassic World, and am now exploring the bits of the game that are unlocked as the storyline is completed. It's definitely more fun once the dinosaurs show up. The triceratops is still one of my favourite dinosaurs to play, probably followed by the brontosaurus. Playing as the brontosaurus is strangely relaxing, as it's so large that the camera pulls waaay out to fit it in, and the parts of the game that usually seem so important are reduced to tiny distant things going on down by the dinosaur's feet. The baby velociraptor is also surprisingly good value as a player character. (Then you get into the possibilities afforded by genetic manipulation, such as a tiny compsognathus with a headbutt as powerful as a triceratops or a t-rex's shattering roar.)

One thing that's still bothering me about it involves the distribution of character traits: there's a very large overlap between the sets "character is female", "character has a glass-shattering shriek", and "character is Agile" (can jump high and squeeze through small gaps), in a way that makes Agile often look like a consolation prize for female characters who can't really do much else. To some extent, I suppose this is a result of the game being constrained by the roles given to female characters in the original movies. One thing that can't be blamed on the movies, though, is the way that the game seems to be rubbing it in by using hot pink as the colour code for obstacles that only Agile characters can get past.


5. Fanfic rec: Shadow-Self, a retelling of the False Guinevere legend. In the usual version, King Arthur's wife is secretly replaced partway through his reign by an impostor of identical aspect, her low-born half-sister, who causes a number of problems before the switch is discovered. In this retelling, that's not quite how it goes.
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Lois McMaster Bujold. Diplomatic Immunity (e) (re-read)
Lois McMaster Bujold. Komarr (e) (re-read)
Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca. Darth Vader volume 1
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Alliance of Equals (e)
John Ostrander, Luke McDonnell, et al. Suicide Squad volume 1
Terry Pratchett. Feet of Clay (e) (re-read)
Anthony Price. Sion Crossing (e)
Mark Russell, Ben Caldwell, et al. Prez volume 1
William Shakespeare. Hamlet (re-read)

In progress
Terry Pratchett. Hogfather (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books
Adrian Goldsworthy. Augustus (e)

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Eleanor Herman. Sex with Kings
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. The short play season has been and gone. This year there were two plays, with a set of song-and-dance numbers in between; I was in the song-and-dance section, and got to sing the lead part on "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" while the rest of the troupe did their best to upstage me. The other songs we did were "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Friends", both ensemble numbers, and "Otto Titzling", in which I made a brief and mostly mimed appearance as the villainous Phillippe de Brassiere, wearing a villainous top hat and villainous false moustache over my insufficiently villainous real moustache.

Next up is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


2. My facial hair has gone through some variations this year. I grew out a full beard for Fagin, pruned it back to a moustache for the short play season, and am now going clean-shaven for Jekyll & Hyde. As an intermediate stage between the full beard and the moustache, just for the fun of it, I spent a week going about with Edwardian-style friendly muttonchops. I got a notable number of complimentary remarks about the look suiting me, so I may have to revisit it in future.


3. A few weeks ago, I went to the city to catch the touring professional production of Little Shop of Horrors. I found it somewhat disappointing, although I'm saying this as someone with multiple other productions to compare it to. The set design was amazing, and the whole thing was very impressive on the technical side, but a lot of the time I wasn't really feeling it on the emotional level. I think the size of the theatre was working against it; every other time I've seen Little Shop live has been in the kind of little shoebox theatre where even the back row isn't all that far from the stage. I'm also inclined to think most of the actors were struggling under the weight of the accents, which tended toward being so far over the top several of the characters were basically accents with people attached. The actor playing Seymour somehow got away with a reasonably-sized accent, and his performance did a great deal toward salvaging the whole thing.


4. I apparently didn't mention that after catching up with Now You See Me on home video, I went to see Now You See Me 2 in the cinema. It's probably not an objectively good movie, but I found it entertaining enough, even if I didn't quite believe it when the plot forced the protagonists to create in a matter of days the kind of stunt it took them months to set up in the first movie. Interestingly, it at least made some attempt to address some of the things that didn't quite make sense in the first movie regarding character motivations and such, which I appreciated even if some of the answers were also among the parts of the movie I didn't quite believe. One of the comments I made about the first movie has become quite amusing in retrospect, for reasons I can't really describe without massive spoilers.


5. This week we had the drama section of the annual performing arts festival. As usual, it was mostly students, but this year there was an actual adult entrant. (From Toastmasters -- he did a poetry recital and a monologue -- not from either of the theatre groups. Although we did hear from an adult Rep Club member who hadn't seen any promotional material until after the entry deadline had already passed. We really need to work on our outreach to the theatre groups.) The student entries included a collection of short group pieces the students had created themselves as part of their coursework, which tended to be dealing with Issues like self-esteem and coping with loss and so on. One of the highlights of the evening was a transgender coming-of-age story where the protagonist was represented by two performers, one playing his image of himself and the other playing his parents' image of him. Which sounds a bit weird, but the execution was really impressive. One of the actors involved, who also did a stand-out monologue, took out the top prize at the end of the evening.
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Paul Dini, Bruce Timm. Mad Love and other stories

In progress
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Alliance of Equals (e)
Terry Pratchett. Feet of Clay (e) (re-read)

Abandoned
Diane Duane. Deep Wizardry (e) (re-read) (not a bad book, just not the right book for me right now)

Non-fiction books in progress
Adrian Goldsworthy. Augustus (e)

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Terry Pratchett. Hogfather
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. I mentioned that the Rep Club will next be doing our annual season of one-act plays, then The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In an excess of enthusiasm, I have signed on for both, and there are very few evenings now that I'm not rehearsing for something. It makes a change from last year when I didn't get to act in anything at all, but I may end up having to beg off the Christmas Show just to get a bit of a rest.


2. At the gaming group, we played Stay Away!, in which the players represent a group of explorers in an isolated location who have to figure out which of their number is now an inhuman Thing in disguise, before they all get turned into inhuman Things themselves. (The flavour text and illustrations are all jazz-era Lovecraftian, down to namedropping R'lyeh, but I suspect the real inspiration is something that isn't out of copyright yet, particularly since the standard tool for Thing-destruction is a flamethrower.)

I said before that I don't get on well with games that are all about watching people's body language to figure out who's the traitor, but I do better with games where there's an abstract mechanic and things to do other than make and deflect accusations. The formal mechanism of this game involves drawing, playing, and trading cards: useful cards, like the flamethrower and the barricade, and other cards, like the one that says, The person who gave you this card is an inhuman Thing - and now, so are you...

I had a stroke of luck in the first game we played: my starting hand included the card which lets you prove you're not the Thing, and so did the starting hand of the more experienced player next to me. That meant we each had someone we could trust watching one flank, and also that I could learn from how he assessed the other players without having to worry that he was making stuff up to throw me off. We ended up being the last two humans in the game. And then one of the Things got him with a flamethrower, and I was the last human, and then I did something unwise and the Things won.

The second game went a lot quicker. Fairly early on one of the players was accused of being the Thing and completely failed to produce a convincingly innocent response. After that, the rest of the table closed ranks and it was only a matter of time before a flamethrower was found and deployed, securing victory for the humans.

The third game went even quicker than that, because less than one turn around the table a player got hold of the flamethrower and decided to torch one of his neighbours on spec, and it turned out that the neighbour was, in fact, the Thing, producing another easy victory for the humans.

The fourth game was another long one like the first. At one point I was one of only two humans who knew for sure the identity of the Thing. Then, while I was concentrating on setting the other one up to take a shot with a flamethrower, I let my guard down and got Thinged. My former ally did get his shot, but it turned out the Thing had a card that let him temporarily escape getting barbecued. I went on to make a key move in the eventual victory for us Things.


3. At home, I've started playing Lego Jurassic World. I wasn't sure I liked it at first; it felt like the game was being held back by adhering too closely to the events of the movie, not helped by the decision to use actual voice tracks, which don't suit the cartoony style that Lego game cutscenes are usually in. (Also, I started off resenting it somewhat because it turns out to be a bit much for my relatively-elderly computer to handle well. The actual game levels play smoothly, but it takes an awful long time for each one to load.) I have to admit, though, that it picked up quite a bit once all the introductory gubbins was out of the way and I got to a bit with actual dinosaurs in. Crashing around as a Triceratops busting up Lego scenery is quite a bit of fun.


4. Getting in early with a suggestion for next year's Hugo Award nominations: Freefall: Chapter One.

I've been wanting to plug Freefall for Best Graphic Story ever since the category was introduced, but always got stuck on the question of how to define the eligible portion of an ongoing webcomic where each plot thread flowed into the next. However, this week the creator announced "Thus brings us to the end of chapter one", so I guess that answers that question.

Freefall starts out as broad comedy but develops (while still being very funny) a deeper story about what it means to be human, featuring three characters who technically aren't: Florence is an uplifted animal, Sam is an extraterrestrial, and Helix is a robot.

It's not short - several thousand daily-comic-strip sized installments - hence why I'm putting it out there now, so anybody who might be interested has time to read it and see for themselves.


5. This week's fanfic rec: we must cultivate our garden is about Eve in Heaven, coming to grips with the ramifications of the choice she made that day in Eden. Somewhat complicated by Heaven transcending time and space, meaning that when she arrives it already contains crowds of her descendants, batting around names and concepts she doesn't understand. ("Oh, theology. After your time, dear.")
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. We have finished the run of Oliver!, to the disappointment apparently of many people who left it too late to get tickets. Apparently there were enough enquiries to suggest that we could have sold out a fourth weekend of performances, but that wasn't practicable because everyone in the cast and crew had already made other plans and in some cases would be out of town.

Despite the logistical complications (and having to share the green room with a crowd of small noisy people), I'm glad we were in our theatre instead of the big one. The trouble with the big one, which I think I've mentioned before, is that it's impossible to book it for more than a few days at a time, so we'd have only been able to do one weekend and would have had to stop just as we were all getting settled into the thing. As it was, we had the first weekend to get settled and then two more weekends to enjoy doing it properly.

The director says that between seeing me in action as Fagin, and hearing the violin player who got recruited for the pit orchestra, she's seriously considering doing Fiddler on the Roof as her next big show. That won't be for a year or two, though. What's coming up now is our annual season of one-act plays, then The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


2. I've been to the gaming group a couple of times since I last mentioned it.

The first time, we played The Resistance and Cards Against Humanity, and I was reminded why I don't like playing The Resistance or Cards Against Humanity. (The Resistance is one of those games that's all about watching people's body language to figure out who's the traitor, and I'm frankly terrible at it. Cards Against Humanity is kind of a joke game, and it's basically the same joke over and over again, which gets boring very quickly if you're not in the mood for that kind of joke, and I'm usually not.)

The second time went better. We played Formula D, a game where you roll dice to move a car around a board shaped like a race track, which is a lot more fun than it sounds. You get to roll different shaped dice depending on what gear you're in, and you have to be careful not to go around corners too fast, or bump into other cars, or several other things that can damage your car and put you out of the race. I drew pole position at the beginning, and had a lot of fun hogging the track by placing my car where it would be more difficult for the others to get past. Later in the race, I fell behind a bit due to some conservative cornering, and in the end I came in third.


3. For SF Writer Appreciation Day this year, I showed appreciation for Tim Powers by putting money down for his latest novel. And the one from a couple of years back, because I somehow hadn't got around to that one yet.


4. This week's fanfic rec is a sequel to the Batman & Catwoman one from last time: Give and Take


5. My current favourite podcast, and the one I'm most consistently keeping up with, is Robot or Not? with John Siracusa and Jason Snell. Episodes drop once a week, and are all under ten minutes long; many are under five minutes, and the shortest to date is 48 seconds including the opening and closing music. The format is very simple: Jason nominates a topic, and John explains why it is or is not a robot. Topics include robots, cyborgs, and AIs from fiction, mechanisms from real life, and occasional left-field balls such as "the dance called The Robot". John's answers are based on intuition rather than a pre-determined set of rules, although as the series progresses an empirical set of guidelines is beginning to take shape, and sometimes don't fall how you might expect. (Assembly-line robot arms? Not robots, for reasons that actually make sense when John explains them.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
Tomorrow is the Australian federal election. Hurrah. *waves tiny flag unenthusiastically*

The House of Reps ballot for my electorate is a nice easy one: only six candidates, and three of them are from parties I wouldn't touch with a bargepole.

The Senate ballot, as usual, is a whole different kettle of fish. This time out, the Senate ballot for WA has twenty-eight party groups on it, plus independents/ungrouped candidates, and most of them are minor parties that you never hear about except around senate election time.

At a time like this, it really helps to have a tool that lets you play around with the ballot and rearrange it how you like, and then print out your own personalised how-to-vote card so you don't get confused when confronted with the enormous ballot paper. Cluey Voter has one that does the job pretty well. (It's not as convenient as I remember Below the Line being, but that's not a fair comparison since Below the Line is sitting this one out due to lack of time on the part of the guy who maintains it. In any case, it's a whole lot better than trying to number the boxes off the top of one's head on the day.)

But how to know which order to put the parties in? What you need is a snarky but informative summary with a title like "Who are these people?". This one's for the Queensland ballot, but it covers nearly all the parties that are on the WA ballot.

(To that I would add that, out of the independents, Kai Jones might be worth a look if you have a similar political stance to me, though of course it's highly unlikely he'll actually get in.)

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