pedanther: (Default)
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: (cheerful)
1. The fanfic I recommended last week has a sequel now: Christmas in Kansas, the story of the first time Clark Kent brought his colleagues Bruce and Diana home for the Christmas holidays. There's inevitably quite a bit of focus on Bruce, due to the inherent incongruity of Bruce Wayne + relaxed family holiday, but Diana gets some really nice moments, too.


2. Since I'm already recommending out-of-season Christmas fanfic, I don't think I've recced back in anno domini here; it's a crossover in which Susan Pevensie goes to stay with a friend in Tatchester and ends up befriending Kay Harker. It's really beautiful, but it hasn't got a lot of attention possibly because there aren't a lot of people on AO3 who know who Kay Harker is. (I mean, I suspect it would still be a beautiful story even if you have no idea, but I can see why people might be cautious.) (And of course I could be wrong, since I've known Kay nearly as long as I've known Susan.)


3. Rehearsals for Oliver! continue. I'm beginning to really get a feel for Fagin's physicality: how he holds his shoulders, how he moves his hands, how he walks. Not so much, alas! for how he speaks - I'm shifting unreliably between several different accents, and it seems like the more I attention I pay to how I'm speaking the less likely I am to get the result I'm after.

The children of the cast seem to have largely accepted me, in (will-I or nill-I) the role of the fun adult who'll often play along with a joke but needn't be paid any attention to if he tries to get one to settle down. Fortunately, there are other adults in the cast who can achieve more success if settling down is what's needed, including our Nancy, who's a teacher in real life.


4. I've been to see Captain America: Civil War. I have previously had occasion to comment that the MCU doesn't have a track record of sticking the distance with moral dilemmas or good-vs-good conflicts; the side that the heroes aren't on tends to see the light, or do something that allows their viewpoint to be swept under the carpet, like die or turn evil (or turn evil and then die). I didn't expect this movie to be any different, and it wasn't. Doubtless there will be bloggers who will examine the details in more depth, but that's not really my thing.

I like the new version of Spider-Man.


5. At the gaming group this week I played Hoax, Council of Verona, and Goblins, Inc..

Hoax is one of those bluffing games where you have to figure out what cards your opponents have while being free to lie as much as you like about your own. I've generally been pretty terrible at bluffing games because I have no poker face when I get a good card, but between Batman Love Letter last week and Hoax this week I've been working on a strategy where I attempt to mask my reaction to good news maintaining a cheerful demeanor all the time regardless. I was getting pretty good at it by the time we moved on to the next thing.

Council of Verona involves a meeting to settle the feud between the Montagues and Capulets, and cards representing various characters from Romeo and Juliet, each of which either has a goal for the outcome of the meeting or an action that will affect the outcome. (For example, Lord Montague's goal is to end the game with more Montagues at the meeting than Capulets, and there's a lesser Montague whose action can be used to have one of the Capulets kicked out of the meeting. Another character, I forget which, has the goal of ending the game with more people kicked out of the meeting than still in. Romeo, meanwhile, doesn't care what happens at the meeting, or whether he's in or out, only whether Juliet is there with him.) Where it gets complicated is that players score by betting on which characters will achieve their goals, and using the action characters to influence the outcome - and some of the characters' actions, instead of directly affecting other characters, can be used to mess with the other players' bets. I still don't think I've quite got my head around it.

Goblins, Inc. is about designing giant fighting machines and then playing them off against one another. It's an interesting mix of co-operation and competition. It's played with two teams of two, but halfway through the game the pairs are split and rearranged so that you end up allied with a former opponent. At various points in the game, each player is required to make important decisions without consulting their ally. Players are scored individually, and each player earns a different number of points from a victorious round depending on their secret agenda. (For instance, one player might earn points for each of their opponent's weapons that's destroyed, while another might earn points for each bit of armor; and similarly when it comes to the bits of their own machine remaining intact at the end of the fight.) In theory, the secret agenda might also influence a player to make a decision during the round that helps them but harms their ally. In practice, I found that I paid a lot of attention to my intactness agenda during the design phase (points for every intact weapon at the end of the fight? okay, we need to start with lots of weapons) but during the fight phase I would just forget about the destruction agenda and concentrate on the best outcome for the team. That seemed to work well for me, since I won the game.
 
pedanther: (cheerful)
For the AU writing meme, [livejournal.com profile] lost_spook requested Bernice Summerfield, [livejournal.com profile] daibhid_c requested Kay Harker, and [livejournal.com profile] john_amend_all requested Havelock Vetinari.

Bernice Summerfield )
Kay Harker )
Havelock Vetinari ) 
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
R Austin Freeman. Mr Pottermack's Oversight (e)
Russell Hoban. Best Friends for Frances
Russell Hoban. Bread and Jam for Frances
Sharon Lee. Barnburner (e)
Sharon Lee. Gunshy (e)
Alan Moore, Gene Ha, Zander Cannon. Top 10 volume 1 (re-read)
Alan Moore, Gene Ha, Zander Cannon. Top 10 volume 2 (re-read)
Alan Moore, Gene Ha. Top 10: The Forty-Niners (re-read)
Kim Newman. The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School (e)
Terry Pratchett. Men at Arms (e) (re-read)
Anthony Price. The '44 Vintage (e)
Anthony Price. The Hour of the Donkey (e)
Anthony Price. Soldier No More (e)
Anthony Price. Tomorrow's Ghost (e)
Dorothy L Sayers. Strong Poison (e) (re-read)

In progress
Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener. Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire (e)
Terry Pratchett. Soul Music (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books
Jung Chang. Empress Dowager Cixi

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

Top of the to-read pile
Ryk E Spoor. Phoenix in Shadow
pedanther: (cheerful)
(via [livejournal.com profile] john_amend_all, who also links to a handy template)

Stats:

List of Completed Fics:

Bring Out the Lady (441 words)
Fandom: Chess (Board Game)
Characters: Queen (Chess), King (Chess)
Summary: The queen moves fast. The king can't keep up with her. There's a reason for that.

Uncommon Readers (232 words)
Fandom: Unusual Dragon Hoards - iguanamouth
Characters: Original Dragon Character(s)
Summary: There are many treasures to be found in the Hoard of Random Scraps of Paper.

The Question of Caroline Louisa (477 words)
Fandom: Kay Harker Series - John Masefield
Characters: Caroline Louisa, Eduardo da Vinci
Summary: "Do you ever miss it?" Edward asks suddenly, interrrupting his own description of his latest plan to raise the statue of St George from the ocean bed. Caroline Louisa takes a sip of tea while she considers the question.

Plus a couple more stanzas of last year's filk song, a few comment fics whose locations I can't now entirely recall, an [livejournal.com profile] isurrendered entry, and a reasonably substantial involvement in an LJ roleplay.

Read more... )
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Brian Clevinger. Tesladyne Industries Field Guide
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Carpe Diem (re-read)
Tamora Pierce The Power in the Storm (e)

In progress
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Plan B (re-read)
Tamora Pierce The Fire in the Forging (e)
Terry Pratchett. Pyramids (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Simon Singh. Big Bang

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

Top of the to-read pile
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. I Dare
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Tamora Pierce The Magic in the Weaving
Terry Pratchett. Wyrd Sisters (e) (re-read)

In progress
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Carpe Diem (e) (re-read)
Tamora Pierce The Power in the Storm (e)
Terry Pratchett. Pyramids (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books - abandoned
Mark Latham. The Political Bubble

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

Top of the to-read pile
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Plan B
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Justine Clark, Arthur Baysting, Tom Jellett. The Gobbledygook is Eating a Book
Mij Kelly, Mary McQuillan. Have You Seen My Potty?
John Masefield. Odtaa
John Masefield. The Taking of the Gry
Tamora Pierce. Lioness Rampant (re-read)
Ryk E Spoor. Phoenix Rising (e)

Non-fiction books, abandoned
Rossiter, Heather. Lady Spy, Gentleman Explorer: the life of Herbert Dyce Murphy

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

Top of the to-read pile
Patricia Wrightson. The Nargun and the Stars
pedanther: (cheerful)
Now that was more like it. The Taking of the Gry has engaging characters, and the plot barrels along at a good old clip. It's not Great Literature, but that's something it never claims to be, and what it is is an entertaining read.

I say "engaging characters"; actually, it might be that the writer is more engaged with the characters. In retrospect, there was a sense in Sard Harker and Odtaa that the author was watching the characters from a distance, which translated to a distance between the characters and the reader as well.

The Taking of the Gry was published a decade after the other two, which made me wonder if perhaps I'd just been let down by his earlier work, and he got better later. Having looked at the dates for all of his novels that I've read, though, I don't think that works; books I enjoyed alternate with books I found disappointing, sometimes very close together. There is this, though: the later disappointing books are disappointing in a different way to the earlier ones.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Snow White's Pizza Palace, the Rep Club's Christmas show, opened this week, to large and appreciative audiences. I've been getting a lot of approving feedback about my performance, which is nice. (I'm playing the King, Snow White's father.) I've been enjoying it, too; it's been a while since I've done this kind of comedy, and it's not very deep but it is a lot of fun. I'm particularly enjoying the Audience Participation Bit, which inevitably involves a certain amount of improvisation; improv is another thing I haven't done in a while, and I'm thinking I should try to get back into it.


2. My big internet timesink at the moment is the blog Adventures with the Wife in Space; I'm about halfway through the archive, and keep sneaking just one more post when I should be doing other things. The premise: Neil, who is the kind of Doctor Who fan who has a bookshelf full of action figures and can tell you many "interesting" facts about the actor in the third rubber suit from the left, and his wife Sue, who isn't, are watching their way through the entire classic series in order, and blogging their reactions. Well, mostly Sue's reactions: she's not a card-carrying Doctor Who fan and had only seen a handful of episodes of the classic series, so she's seeing it with fresh eyes, and being a blunt northerner she's not hesitant to call it how she sees it. It's hilarious, and at times remarkably touching and insightful.

(And for anyone who's more interested in Blake's 7 than Doctor Who, check out the entry for The Silurians, which includes an entertaining aside about Paul Darrow and the Blake's 7 finale.)


3. In less happy news, I was disappointed by Sard Harker and Odtaa, and I think my opinion of Masefield as a novelist has permanently shifted from "sometimes amazing, sometimes disappointing" to "mostly disappointing with one or two shining exceptions". I stop short of saying they're bad -- if you can forgive flat characters and lumpy plots for beautiful descriptive passages, both novels have something to offer; myself, I generally read for characters and plot first, and descriptive passages, however beautiful, can't save a book for me where those are lacking.

Sard Harker is an adventure story wrapped around a South American travelogue: the middle third consists of the protagonist trekking across the beautifully described wilderness to rejoin the plot. (It's one of the novel's big pacing problems that it does feel like the plot goes on hold while the trek occurs, where it might have managed to make the trek feel like the necessary continuance of the plot.)

Odtaa is the same again, except that the travelogue is longer (both in page count and as a proportion of the novel's length) even though the period of time it covers is half as long, and the protagonist is even less interesting. Oh, and instead of the plot going on hold until the trek is over, it carries on elsewhere, off the page; the protagonist eventually emerges from the wilderness (by way of a blatant dea ex machina) just in time to have missed all the excitement. Masefield appears to have been going for a point about how life's experiences have the value we give them, as the protagonist eventually considers the whole experience worthwhile in its own way; but since the novel has utterly failed to make me care about the protagonist or respect his opinions, this fails to comfort me.

Both novels, taken together, also give me the uncomfortable feeling that Masefield's beautifully described South American republic seems to exist only for Englishmen to have adventures in.

I'm going to read The Taking of the Gry, since it's there and it's shorter than either Sard Harker or Odtaa (and the premise seems to rule out the possibility of yet another travelogue), but after that I think I may be done with Masefield-the-novelist.


4. Back to cheerful news: I have a new washing machine. It's a front-loader, the first I've ever used; I'm happy with it so far, though I think my knees and back might be grateful in the long run if I find a small stool to sit on while I'm loading and unloading it.


5. A request for assistance: I have a blogging project in mind which I think needs its own space, not just to be a subset of this livejournal.

Anybody have any recommendations for a blogging set-up to use? To avoid using? Any other pitfalls to avoid?

(I think that I would like to be able to have posts post themselves at a pre-set time. There may be other constraints that I only discover as I run into them.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
(anthology). Kitties
(anthology). Liavek
Lois McMaster Bujold. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (e)
John Masefield. Sard Harker
Tamora Pierce. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (re-read)
Bram Stoker. The Jewel of Seven Stars

In progress
John Masefield. Odtaa
Tamora Pierce. Lioness Rampant (re-read)

Non-fiction books
Alain de Botton. The Consolations of Philosophy

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

Top of the to-read pile
John Masefield. The Taking of the Gry
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Padraic Colum. The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles (e)
Tanith Lee. The Dragon Hoard (re-read)
John Masefield. The Midnight Folk (re-read)
Tamora Pierce. In the Hand of the Goddess (re-read)
Gene Luen Yang. American Born Chinese
Roger Zelazny. A Night in the Lonesome October (re-read)

In progress
(anthology). Liavek
Bram Stoker. The Jewel of Seven Stars

Non-fiction books in progress
Alain de Botton. The Consolations of Philosophy

In hiatus
Barbara Sher, Barbara Smith. I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was

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

Top of the to-read pile
John Masefield. Odtaa
pedanther: (Default)
1. Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century is back in the rotation on Jaroo, so if defrosted Sherlock Holmes fighting futuristic crime with the assistance of Inspector Lestrade's great-...-granddaughter and a robot that thinks it's Watson sounds like something that you might find amusing (in any of several possible ways), here's your chance. Try to stick it out for at least the first three episodes, as they form a mini-plot-arc setting up the various bits of the series premise. (Also, the third episode is not half bad.) The first episode is only going to be up for a few more days, I think, but if you miss it I'll be happy to give you a brief synopsis of the key points so that you can carry on from episode two; this might in fact be preferable to actually watching the episode.


2. Australia's latest TV panel game is The Unbelievable Truth, based on the British radio panel game of the same name (which airs here on Radio National) in which contestants give lectures that consist almost entirely of lies, and the other contestants have to identify the implausible-but-true bits. Graeme Garden, co-creator of and regular contestant on the radio version, appeared in the second episode, and trounced everybody handily. I'm not sure so far that being on TV has added anything to the format, which after all is basically built around people talking, but allowing for it being early days yet it's not significantly worse either.


3. The same day I finished re-reading The Dragon Hoard, something happened to remind me of another of my favourite books since childhood, John Masefield's The Midnight Folk, so I'm re-reading that now. It's occurred to me that I've had one of Masefield's adventure stories for adults, Odtaa, lying around unread for a couple of years now, and I've been told that it and its sequel Sard Harker have connections to The Midnight Folk by way of shared characters and settings, so perhaps I'll read that next.


4. I mentioned in my last entry that I was unwell. I'm quite better now. I bring this up only because apparently nothing else more noteworthy has happened to me lately.


5. Random musical video link (via): Singer-songwriter duo Lou & Peter Berryman explain that since they've been touring across America, they've become conscious of the fact that all their sentimental songs are about their home state of Wisconsin. To redress the balance, they've written a sentimental song with spaces left blank to be filled in as appropriate.

Sometimes when the grass is blown by the breeze
There's a far-away look in the leaves of the trees
A memory returns, heart-breakingly clear
Of a place I call home,
[your state's name here].
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Fledgling (re-read)
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Mouse and Dragon
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Saltation
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Scout's Progress (re-read)
A A Milne. The Ugly Duckling
Jo Walton. The King's Name (re-read)
Jo Walton. The King's Peace (re-read)

In progress
Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace

Non-fiction books
(none)

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

Top of the to-read pile
Aaron Williams. PS 238: When Worlds Go Splat!

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