pedanther: (Default)
1. I went to Swancon again this year, and had a good time. Based on past history, the odds are not good that I'll do a detailed write-up.

One memorable event was a discussion about gender-swapping -- examples of it being done such as the recent Ghostbusters movie, thoughts about the opportunities and pitfalls, and so on -- where there was an artist in the room who took suggestions for a series of sketches of characters people would like to see gender-swapped, with a camera set up so we could all watch the sketch taking shape while the discussion went on. The people whose suggestions were accepted got to keep the resulting sketch at the end if they wanted. I suggested "female Asian Iron Fist", which sprang to mind because the shortcomings of the Iron Fist TV series had been something of a recurring conversation topic at the convention, and without intially intending to keep the sketch. (For one thing, they were on quite large pieces of paper that looked like they'd be trouble to get home in my luggage unwrinkled.) I changed my mind when I saw the finished sketch, though; this is a character I would definitely read or watch a series about. I managed to get the sketch home mostly unscathed, too; now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with it.

Games I played included Original Flavour Fluxx, Pandemic, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt Skullfyrez (which I enjoyed the mechanics of but found the theme/story off-putting), Joking Hazard, Tsuro of the Seas, Hamsterolle, and King of Tokyo. And also, on the same trip but not actually at the convention, Fury of Dracula; I played Dracula, partly because I figured that would reduce the amount of explanations required to the novice players but mostly because it was my copy of the game so I could be Dracula if I wanted.


2. The British Museum's contribution to International Tabletop Day is a video in which Dr Irving Finkel, the museum's curator of cuneiform artifacts, demonstrates one of the oldest board games in recorded history, the rules for which he reconstructed from one of the tablets in his collection. His opponent is Youtube-based science communicator Tom Scott.


3. As part of my preparation for the Star Wars Rolling Remix, of which I have previously written, I rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy all the way through for the first time in years. I was struck by how young the characters are in the first one, compared to my memory of them (which is mostly of how they end up in Return of the Jedi). Han, and Luke -- not so much Leia, though I think that's down to her not being allowed to grow up as much as the men, so she ended up much closer to her beginning -- but the one that really surprised me was Darth Vader. I had a fixed mental image of him as being a sort of looming menace with a lot of ponderous gravitas, but that's really something he grows into over the trilogy; in the first movie, he has a lot more extraneous movement, and talks more rapidly too. (And I think I owe whoever played Vader in Rogue One an apology for thinking his body language was wrong; it was a lot closer to Vader-at-that-age than I'd remembered.)


4. A while back I read A Shilling for Candles, the first mystery novel to be published under the byline of Josephine Tey. I started it mainly out of a sense of historical curiosity -- it inspired a film by Alfred Hitchcock, and Tey went on to write a couple of novels that I rather liked (although less so on re-reading them and becoming more aware of the author's prejudices) -- but it turned out to have an unexpected point of interest. The action takes place mainly in Devon, in and around the (I'm guessing fictional) town of Westover -- which is also the setting of Brat Farrar, my favourite of Tey's later novels.


5. I finally got around to reading The Collected Kagan, Baen's ebook edition of Janet Kagan's short stories. The quality is somewhat variable, as it's a collection aiming for comprehensiveness, rather than a best-of, but there are some great stories in there. (Eventually; for some reason, the compiler decided to lead off with some of the weaker stories, and I worry that, should anyone who isn't already a Kagan fan happen to give the book a try, they'll give up before getting to the good stuff.) For fans of her science fiction novels, I particularly recommend "Christmas Wingding", "Winging It", "Fighting Words", and "The Nutcracker Coup", which are in a similar mode to the novels. (Not to mention "How First Woman Stole Language from tuli-tuli the Beast", which is actual backstory for one of the novels.) I also highly recommend "Naked Wish-Fulfillment", which is a contemporary fantasy story and great in a completely different way.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. In the end, I didn't sign up for Yuletide this year; when it came down to it, I couldn't think of anything to ask for. (Though I thought of a couple of things almost as soon as signups were over, which I've carefully written down somewhere that I'll hopefully be able to find them next year.)

I may yet end up writing Treats or something, and I'm on the pinch hit list, same as every year, although being in this time zone I almost never get to see an unclaimed pinch hit of any kind, let alone an unclaimed pinch hit I can do something with.


2. Rehearsals for the Christmas show continue. Scripts are down. The song list is mostly stable (several songs were thrown out or replaced for reasons of pacing or being blatantly inappropriate to the character and/or situation) and the dances are mostly choreographed. In the big opening song-and-dance number, I'm taking full advantage of the fact that my character is explicitly called out in dialogue as being not a very good dancer.


3. I stopped going to the gym for a few months out a combination of winter and snowballing awkwardness about peripheral business like When Should I Ask For A Follow-Up Meeting With The Trainer? and What Happens When I Run Out of Spaces On This Log Sheet?, but I've started going regularly again, and I'm feeling better than I did when I wasn't.

Also, I managed to organise a follow-up meeting with the trainer (which helped me straighten out some things I'd been doing wrong) and got a new log sheet, which is a slightly different design from the old one and very helpfully includes a space for the trainer to explicitly write down when he expects to hear from me again, so I may be able to avoid a repeat of the snowballing awkwardness.


4. A few days ago, in a fit of procrastination, I downloaded the smartphone game Doctor Who: Legacy, which some of my fannish acquaintances are enthusiastic about. I don't know how much longevity it's going to have for me; in the absence of an intriguing plot (and Doctor Who: Legacy features a near-complete absence of plot), I tend to stick with a game only so long as I can coast without having to put any actual effort into mastering the tactics and strategies of the game mechanics, and I think I've about reached that point already.

[edit to add: And the "gotta collect all the Doctors and companions" aspect isn't doing it for me, because I'm not feeling like there's any meaningful connection between the collectables and the actual Doctors and companions; Rory, to pick an example, is just a cardboard cutout and some numbers and none of the things that made me like Rory-the-character so much. Though I'll admit I was a bit thrilled when Porridge showed up, because having Warwick Davis on the team will never not be a bit thrilling even if it is just cardboard-cutout Warwick Davis.]

(It's been interesting comparing Legacy to Worlds in Time, the last Doctor Who computer game I played with any regularity. The basic game mechanics are very similar, to the point that Legacy might almost feel like Worlds in Time with a lot of bits missing, except for the crucial difference that the bits Legacy does have all work much better than Worlds in Time's bits ever did.)


5. Around Halloweentime, TV Club 10 did a list of ten noteworthy TV vampire stories (limited to one episode per series, to promote variety; Buffy and Angel are represented by "Fool for Love" and "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been", respectively). Apart from the obvious candidates, the top 10 includes the 1968 Mystery and Imagination version of "Dracula" with Denholm Elliott and James Maxwell in. (There is also a list of honorable mentions, which includes an episode of my favourite underappreciated vampire series, Ultraviolet.)
pedanther: (Default)
Neil Gaiman would like to tell you about All Hallow's Read.

And, on the subject of reading,
Hark! A Vagrant presents: Dracula.

Also, from Hark! A Vagrant,
Peasant Romance and Courtly Love. (I dunno. The one about chicks digging vampires and werewolves is kind of seasonal?)

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