pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Our season of short plays has opened and closed, with positive responses from the people who came to see it. We got a good write-up in the local paper, both in the sense that the reviewer liked it and in the sense that everyone's names were spelled right and it didn't give away too many of the good surprises. (If I'd been directing one of the other plays, I'd have been annoyed about some of the moments chosen for the accompanying photo spread, but fortunately my own play was immune to being spoiled in that manner.) The reviewer said that of the three plays the one I directed was his favourite, which I'm inclined to attribute to the quality of the script, and showed the best acting, which I'm prepared to take some credit for.

After it was over, I spent about a week not stirring from home except to go to work and band practice, and I'm not letting myself get roped into any more theatrical productions until June.

2. We've had the second round of the Toastmasters speech evaluation contest, with winners from three club contests competing against each other. This year, for the first time, I was competing as a winner of a club contest. I didn't win the area contest, but I'm not too bothered; just getting there was an achievement, and anyway I wouldn't have been able to make it to the third round, the division contest, this weekend, so I wouldn't have advanced any further regardless. The winner of the division contest will go on to compete in the final round at the District Convention in early June. (Which I'm on the organising committee for, and that's another reason I'm not committing to any more theatre before then.)

3. The final season of Foyle's War aired here recently - at least, they say it's the final season, but they've said that before. More than once. The war that the title theoretically refers to ended two final seasons ago, not that I'm complaining. (At least it hasn't become one of those wartime series where the war drags on longer than it did in reality so they can fit more seasons in; that trick only works if the series is set vaguely "during the war", and Foyle's War has always been tied to specific historical events, which is one of the things I like about it.) I'm actually really glad we got this final season, because it leaves us in a much better place than the last final season did; not entirely happy, but considerably more hopeful.

4. One of the things I like about reading fanfic is that it can offer new ways of looking at things that one might not have thought of before.

For instance, I recently read a Doctor Who fic that starts with a fresh look at "The End of Time", Ten's regeneration reluctance, and the extended companion farewell tour, through the lens of "The Time of the Doctor":

He doesn't want to go.

Coward, the Master called him, and maybe it's true, because he's terrified. Imagine him, of all people, frightened of change. But it's different this time. Twelve regenerations to a Time Lord, and the last one may have been non-standard, but it counts, and so does the one he tries to tell himself wasn't really him. He can feel the evidence inside him, irrefutable: some vital part of him busy using itself up.

Twelve regenerations, and he's just shoved the only people capable of giving him more back into their time lock. So this is the last time he'll ever experience this, and he's not going to go gentle. No, this last time, Death is going to have a fight on its hands.

He knows what he wants to do with the time he has left, and he has to do it now, because there's no telling how much time he'll have left, after. And no telling what kind of man he'll become.

So he visits them, one by one: the people he's loved, the people he's failed to do right by.

The fic is And at the End, a Garden by AstroGirl, and the rest of it is good too.

5. Video link of the month: John Oliver presents: Infrastructure: The Movie

"You cannot tell me that you are not interested in this, because every summer people flock to see our infrastructure threatened by terrorists or aliens, but we should care just as much when it's under threat from the inevitable passage of time. The problem is, no one has made a blockbuster movie about the importance of routine maintenance and repair. Or they hadn't - until now..."

(If you want to skip straight to the hypothetical action movie, that begins at 17:10. The preamble is worth sitting through if you have the time, though.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Over at Mark Reads, where Mark Oshiro reads popular works of literature he's somehow managed to avoid knowing anything about, Mark has just begun reading the Discworld series. It's really entertaining watching him encounter for the first time things that we long-time Discworld fans have become used to. (Like the Discworld itself, flat and resting on the backs of four elephants which themselves stand on the shell of an enormous turtle.) (And then there's the Luggage...)

2. I am continuing at the gym fairly regularly, though not quite as regularly as I'd like; I'm aiming for at least three visits a week, but often only manage two. (My evenings are pretty crowded these days, and I am very much not a morning person so going before work isn't a thing that is happening.) An unanticipated side-effect, thanks to the gym's choice of background noise being a hit music channel, is that I'm now more familiar with the current popular singles than I've probably ever been in my life.

3. We're not doing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee this year after all; the new year brought unanticipated new workloads and time-sucks for several key people (and, in one case, the news that his employer was relocating him to a city 400 miles away). The club has regrouped and scheduled The Importance of Being Earnest to take its place; all the remaining cast of Bee were invited to take part, but I opted to step back and concentrate on preparing for the National Band Championships.

4. Because, and I may not have mentioned this yet, we will be defending our title at this year's Nationals, even though it means flying over to the other side of the continent to do it. (The flying is actually the bit I'm most worried about; it will be my first experience of commercial air travel, and I could have done without the extra worry of how my instrument case is going to interact with the luggage limits.) The guest conductor who helped us get into shape last year has been back, and I don't know if we're going to win again but I think we have a good chance of not disgracing ourselves.

5. Back to talking about local theatre, our other local theatre group has announced that its next production is going to be Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth. That's an... interesting choice; the play has some tricky staging requirements which I expect would be especially challenging for a community theatre production. I look forward with interest to seeing how it comes out.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. The first episode of the new season of Sherlock has now aired in Australia, but it was scheduled against the season final of Foyle's War so I still haven't seen it. The network that aired it has watch-online service, so I expect I'll get a chance to watch it at some point in the next few days. (Although probably not tomorrow. Or the next day. These days, it seems, the world is just full of things I need to do more than I need to watch another episode of Sherlock.) That's assuming it shows up on the online service, of course; but if it doesn't, I have a feeling the world won't end.

2. Speaking of worlds ending, it's been announced that Worlds in Time, the Doctor Who online multiplayer game, will be closing down soon. Considering how much time I spent playing that at one point, I wish I could be sad, or at least surprised, but as it is I'm just kind of wistful that it couldn't have been a better game.

3. In happier news regarding beloved things with online presences, Rosemary Kirstein's novel The Steerswoman is now available in an electronic edition for Kindle, with the rest of the series hopefully to follow. I love the Steerswoman series, and I'm glad to see an opportunity for new readers to discover it. (Or old readers to re-engage; I'd buy a copy myself like a shot, if I had a Kindle to read it on.) If you do have a Kindle to read it on, it's available here.

4. Another thing I recently re-engaged with online is Akinator, the Web Genie who asks you yes-or-no questions in an attempt to guess who you're thinking of. (And then I taught it about the main characters of the Steerswoman series, but that's not why I mention it.) For some reason, one question I've been getting a lot is "Does your character have human skin?" - which always makes me wonder who somebody was thinking about that made that a useful question to ask.

5. On an entirely different note, I recently bought my first pair of sunglasses with polarized lenses. (Previously, I've had to go with tinted lenses because they didn't make polarized subscription lenses that fit spectacle frames that fit my head.) It's a bit weird - I don't know if this is usual for polarization, or if it's because they're prescription lenses, or what, but objects with shiny surfaces occasionally look like they have a sort of unreal glow about them, because one eye is seeing them as catching the light and the other eye isn't, in a way that usually doesn't happen without polarization involved. And there are certain times of day when the effect happens to the entire sky.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Last night was the annual Toastmasters Halloween-themed public meeting. (We've done it two years in a row, that makes it annual. If we do it again next year, it will be "traditional".) As we did last year, there were creepy costumes, disturbing foodstuffs, atmospheric decorations, and a mix of members and guests doing speeches or presentations on related topics.

This year, I was one of two people who did a poetry recital. Coincidentally, we both took the approach of picking, rather than a poem that was about ghosts throughout, a ballad in which all the principal characters die and then the last couple of verses are about how their ghosts are said to still haunt the vicinity: I did Alfred Noyes's "The Highwayman", and Firstname B did Banjo Paterson's "The Geebung Polo Club".

(There's a running joke in our club about how many of the members have the same first name, in particular the two stalwarts whose surnames make them Firstname A and Firstname B. Which makes another unplanned coincidence about the two poetry recitals, because I'm Firstname A.)

2. [ profile] lost_spook's Obscure & British Comment Fest is still occasionally producing new fruit. The most recent was, to my delight, inspired by one of my own comments, and I love it.

The great disadvantage with stepping into drawings, mused Mary Poppins, was that one could never be quite sure what lay around the corner. The initial impression might very well be one of pleasant pastoral elegance, with green meadows and gently rolling hills; but on the other side of those hills might be marshes, or brambles. Or, as in this particular instance, caves. In the normal course of events, Mary Poppins didn't mind caves. A large, roomy, picturesque cavern was a grand place to be, and filled with opportunities to improve young minds. This cave, however, was dark and gloomy, and dripped constantly. In the normal course of events she would never have dreamt of stepping inside; but then, in the normal course of events, she wouldn't have been chased into it by an army of slavering orcs, either.

"Orcs." She managed to keep the lion's share of her displeasure from her voice. It wouldn't do to appear too ruffled, after all. "Orcs, Ronald?"

3. Tiny Games is a project I backed on Kickstarter that recently came to fruition. It's a smartphone app for people at a loose end, but instead of being a game you play on your phone while ignoring your surroundings, it has you answer a few questions and then describes a game you can play where you are with who you're with and what you have at hand.

("Choose and rearrange words from the restaurant menu to describe new dishes. The creator of the most revolting dish wins." "Knife beats fork, fork beats spoon, spoon beats knife. Keep playing until the toast pops, and then tally your final scores.")

One nice consequence of the publicity surrounding the Kickstarter drive was that they were invited to collaborate on an official Sesame Street app, which ended up being called Sesame Street Family Play, which uses the same mechanism but is particularly aimed at families with small children.

4. In the lead-up to the Doctor Who anniversary, the ABC is making some classic episodes available on iView. Already available are "An Unearthly Child" and "The Daleks", "The Tomb of the Cybermen", "Spearhead from Space" and "The Sea Devils", "The Sontaran Experiment" and "City of Death", and "Earthshock", with a new Doctor being added each Saturday over the next few weeks.

5. Carli Davidson's photography series "Shake" documents weird and wonderful facial expressions captured on dogs shaking themselves dry (the jowly breeds are particularly impressive). Now, there's also a video. (via)
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. In case you haven't already heard, the BBC has announced that nine previously-lost classic Doctor Who episodes have been recovered from an archive in Nigeria, comprising most of two stories starring Patrick Troughton.

The two stories, which for the last few decades had been down to only one surviving episode each, are "The Web of Fear" (The One With Yetis in the Underground, and Nicholas Courtney's first appearance as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart) and "The Enemy of the World" (The One Where the Doctor's Evil Twin is a Bond Villain with an elaborate underground lair in Australia). "The Enemy of the World" is now complete again; "The Web of Fear" is still missing episode 3, the episode in which the Doctor first meets then-Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart.

Here's the official announcement, and here's an interview with the chap who found them.

2. Speaking of things that turn 50 this year, the brass band had its 50th anniversary celebrations recently, with other bands visiting and a big community concert ending with all the bands combining into a single mega-band. Also there was an anniversary dinner for the band members, where several people talked about their memories of the band's early years, and several presentations were made. Two new life members were announced, one of whom was, um, me. So that was a thing that happened.

5. I started doing the "five things make a post" thing because I kept putting off posts because they didn't seem big enough on their own. Now it's just turned into me putting off posts because I don't have exactly five things to put in them. I think I'd better think this out again.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Best thing that's happened to me recently: waking up to a flurry of Teaspoon notifications and the news that one of my fanfics has been recced on [ profile] calufrax. Made my day.

2. All that emceeing I did at Toastmasters in July and August stood me in good stead in the first weekend of September. I was volunteering at the annual performing arts festival this year, and I ended up emceeing most of it because none of the other volunteers were comfortable in that role. One of the sections I didn't emcee was the evening they did bands, ensembles, etc., because I was performing; the brass band did the usual, and this year several groups of band members also entered as ensembles (the ensemble I was in was beaten by the ensemble I wasn't in). The Character Vocal section was once again free of the scourge of Those Same Three Disney Songs; I'm pretty sure now that that was the work of one particular singing teacher who has now left town, though I kept forgetting to ask the more senior volunteers if they knew for sure. Being a volunteer, I saw all the parts of the festival I often don't bother with, which I think was a net plus; if I'd skipped the piano sections as I usually do, I'd have missed out on this year's trophy winner, who played a Clementi sonatina, a Beethoven eccosaise, and a piano solo version of the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean which featured lots of fancy fingerwork and ended with a dramatic chord that he played by leaping up and sitting on the piano.

3. My Re-Reading Liad project progresses. Tomorrow will see the conclusion of Crystal Dragon, then there's a week of short stories (mostly Tales of Moonhawk and Lute, slightly complicated by the authors recently releasing a new one) before beginning on Balance of Trade.

It's been interesting re-reading these books. I've been noticing details, and having reactions, that I didn't the first time I read them. Having to find something to say about each chapter, I'm paying more attention to details, and spreading them out over two months (the first time, I bolted them in something more like two days) makes a difference to how some things affect me. Although I often do notice new details and have new experiences the first time I re-read a book, even when I bolt it again, so it'll be interesting to see if anything changes when I get up to the books in the series that I've already re-read several times.

(In the mean time, I'm learning new things, and not just about things in the books: for instance, a passing remark led to me learning about the idea that a galaxy's spiral arms aren't rigid collections of stars, but standing waves that individual stars move into and out of over time. Wikipedia's article has some nifty animations.)

4. Another nifty thing involving spirals: Akiyoshi Kitaoka's blue-green spiral illusion.

5. The Hidden Almanac is what happens when an award-winning dark fantasy writer and cartoonist (namely Ursula Vernon, author of Digger and Dragonbreath and co-host of the podcast Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap) hears too many people describing Welcome to Night Vale as "A Prairie Home Companion meets H. P. Lovecraft" and starts wondering what would have happened if Lovecraft had met Garrison Keillor's other radio show, The Writer's Almanac, instead.

There are new episodes three times a week, written by Ursula Vernon and performed by Kevin Sonney, the other half of Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap; in each five minute episode, Reverend Mord describes a couple of events that occurred on this date in history, profiles a saint whose feast day it is, and offers some seasonal gardening tips. (The events are strange and the saints eccentric. The gardening tips, at this time of year, largely revolve around Ways of Getting Rid of All That Zucchini; even in a world where people spontaneously explode into swarms of butterflies, some things never change.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
Better late than never: I've been collecting useful links for voters in the upcoming Australian federal election, to be held this Saturday.

Since I procrastinated so long, leece already posted one, but I think I've got some links she didn't (and of course our readership isn't co-extensive, so some of you won't have seen hers).

In You Can't "Waste Your Vote"!, Dennis the Election Koala helpfully explains Australia's preferential voting system, and why Australian voters can and should vote 1 for the candidate they'd prefer to win even if they know that candidate has no chance of actually getting in. (hat-tip: this one's been all over my friendslist, but I first saw it via drhoz)

Vote Compass lets you compare your positions with those of the three major players (Labor, the Liberal-National Coalition, and the Greens) both in aggregate and on specific issues.

This policy scorecard from GetUp includes the three majors and five smaller parties. (hat-tip: via leece)

Then we get to Australia's infamously large and complicated Senate ballots.

Below the Line explains why you should consider tackling the difficult process of filling out a complete Senate ballot instead of taking the easier "above the line" option - and, crucially, provides a tool that makes it much less daunting to contemplate. With the Ballot Editor, you can select your electorate, rearrange the candidates in whatever order you like with an easy drag-and-drop interface, taking as long as you need, and then print out a reminder card showing how to fill out the ballot form to express that preferred order.

But how do you decide who you prefer, when there are so many minor parties who only appear on the Senate ballots?

In addition to the Vote Compass and GetUp links above, Who the hell are all these minor parties? is a brief irreverent rundown of the many minor parties, some of which are doing that thing where they seem appealing but there's something unpleasant not very deep under the surface. The Citizens Electoral Council ("Possibly fascists, definitely nuts"), who in previous years have had a lock on last position in my preferences, may have been beaten this year by the Rise Up Australia Party (who describe themselves as "for people from all ethnic backgrounds who call Australia home", but on closer investigation take it as an article of faith that people from some backgrounds are inherently incapable of becoming True Australians and can therefore be attacked with a clear conscience). (hat-tip: via sqbr; also I should note that the original is by baglieg, but the link above goes to a reblog with some useful additional commentary attached)

An experiment in visualising preferences crunches the numbers from the Senate preference tickets submitted by the various parties, and shows a set of graphs grouping together parties whose preference choices indicate they see each other as having common cause. If you're not sure what to make of a particular party, seeing who its neighbours are may help you decide.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. We have finished our run of The Man from Mukinupin, to good reviews (including two independent reports of audients saying it was the best thing they'd ever seen at the Rep Club). The Rep Club's next production will be another Australian theatrical classic, the election-night drama Don's Party. Nicely topical, as this is an election year -- and the production dates have worked out such that the final performance will actually be on election night.

2. The first weekend of this month was the WA Day long weekend, which is usually when we're away for the state band championships, but there were no states this year because of the Nationals being held here. So I got to do Not Much for most of the weekend, and on Monday I got together with the other local members of the family and we did Not Much together. That was nice.

3. I have been making the acquaintance of the two live-action film adaptations of The Phantom: the 1943 film serial, which is pretty dopey but succeeds about as well as any 1940s film serial might reasonably be expected to, and the 1993 feature film, which is okay-ish and not really a success -- largely because for some reason it seems to be trying to be a 1940s film serial.

4. I was rather bemused to discover that I'm actually looking forward to Agents of SHIELD, the upcoming TV series set in the fictional world of the Marvel superhero movies. Looking forward to upcoming TV series is not something I do much of, generally speaking. (Whether I will continue looking forward to it after I've seen an episode or two remains to be seen; it's being run by Joss Whedon, whom I sometimes have trouble taking in anything other than small doses.)

5. Meanwhile, a fanfic rec also set in the fictional world of the Marvel superhero movies: Exclusive (by [ profile] copperbadge, whose "Victory Bonds" I've previously recced in this space).

In which the Avengers and their handlers decide they need to let the public know more about them, and invite a journalist to spend a fortnight living with them, learning their stories and watching them at work and at play. This is his story. Literally:


The rest of the meal is spent listening to Thor retell the story of the Battle of Manhattan between bites of food. He recites in what seems to be flawless iambic pentameter, but for a man whose chosen weapon is a hammer, there is a certain subtlety to his language. The story makes for good material, even for those who were there on the front lines. Hawkeye and Rogers listen raptly; Stark and Black Widow seem mostly amused. Potts murmurs with Banner from time to time. I wonder how often they're treated to Thor's epics.

"One time, he spent an hour recounting the saga of his first visit to a grocery store," Black Widow tells me in an undertone, once we've applauded the performance. "It's strangely compelling."

"You could take that show on the road," I tell Thor, and he looks puzzled.

"Which road?" he asks. Thor's not from around here.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Okay, let's see: That was the last Riddler puzzle, and it unlocked the last bit of backstory. Still not 100% Complete, but there's no more story left: the only things left to do are demonstrate-your-speed-and-agility tests, which I don't care about in themselves, and all they unlock are concept art, which I can live without. I think I'm done here.

*swoops out of Arkham City*

2. Also done with: This collection of Murray Leinster stories. Which is a relief, unfortunately. I wish it weren't, because there are times when Leinster is a really good writer -- but oh, the race and gender issues. I had three stories left to get through. Two of them at least managed to avoid gender unpleasantness, though only by not having any women in them at all. The third (actually the first of the three, so fortunately it wasn't left as my final impression of the collection) had some gender essentialism that I mostly just rolled my eyes at, and an enslaved alien race whose depiction (and the protagonist's reacton to whom) would be a field day for someone who enjoys picking apart depictions of racial otherness and disempowerment. The cherry on the top is that literally the first thing we're told about these aliens, and the thing that seems to be the go-to adjective whenever the author wants to emphasize their strangeness and inhumanity... is that they're black. *sigh*

3. In happier classic-sci-fi news: There's a Kickstarter running for a collection of Henry Kuttner's Hogben stories, with a foreword by Neil Gaiman and new illustrations by Steve Parkhouse. I've been wanting to get my hands on these stories ever since I first heard about them, years ago. The publishers are planning a range of editions, from an e-book through a basic paperback to a limited-edition signed leatherbound hardcover. There's about a week left on the pledge period.

4. From the "we're all living in science fiction now" department: Canadian astronaut and video blogger Chris Hadfield commemorates the end of his stint on the International Space Station with a performance of David Bowie's "A Space Oddity" (with appropriately tweaked lyrics), filmed on location in a tin can far above the world.

5. I can touch my toes!
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. I'm going to be away from the internet for about a week. (You probably won't even notice I'm gone.) This year the National Band Championships are going to eat most of the weekend, though I still intend to get to as much of Swancon as I can, even if that turns out to be only Monday afternoon. Then I'll be staying in town for a few days to catch up with some people and get in the annual shopping spree before heading home.

For the first time since I got it, I won't be taking my favourite gadget with me. Another thing that reminds me that, while it's still my favourite gadget, as time passes it's gradually becoming less and less actually useful and relevant.

2. I have been cast in the Rep Club's next play, Dorothy Hewett's The Man From Mukinupin, just in time to miss the first week of rehearsals. I'm not sure what to make of the play yet, except that one way or another it's definitely going to be an experience.

3. For the list of things I have now done and don't need ever to do again: At the community fair this year, I let myself get talked into going on one of the Rides That Go Around Very Fast. (This one, to be specific, although that's a different fairground.) It... wasn't too bad, actually. At least it wasn't one of the Rides That Go Around Very Fast And Suddenly Turn You Upside-Down.

4. A fanfic recommendation: Victory Bonds, by [ profile] copperbadge, is a tale of the Justice League set in the 1940s. It features the best Clark Kent and Lois Lane I've encountered anywhere in quite some time. Clark narrates.

It wasn't easy, trying to be a reporter and a hero. The number of times I had to beg off a dinner or apologize for being late to work...well, it's a good thing reporters don't keep normal hours, or I'd have been fired many times over. As it was, Perry sometimes put me on garbage stories to punish me for disappearing on him. Some of them turned out to be gems in disguise, but the little scoreboard Jimmy kept showed Lois was clearly winning in the "probably going to win a Pulitzer" competition.

Bruce Wayne was one of my punishments.

5. Probably anyone on my friendslist who'd be interested has heard already, but just in case: Agent of Change, the first Liaden novel by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, is now a member of the Baen Free Library.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. To anyone I haven't already, Season's Greetings! (Or General Well-Wishings, if you're one of the people who don't find anything remarkable about this time of the year.) And a happy new b'ak'tun!

2. I got some nice presents for Christmas this year, but none of those really great surprises that was exactly what you would have wanted if you'd expected to get it. I did manage to hit the target a couple of times in my gifts to others, which was just as good. And it was really nice just to get to hang out with the family for a while. (At one point we were watching Fantasia, and the narrator asserted that the dinosaurs were mostly peaceful herbivores apart from a few gangsters and bullies like T. rex. A few minutes later, [ profile] poinketh remarked out of the blue that he could picture a T. rex rocking a fedora, but he was having trouble figuring out how it worked the Tommy gun.)

3. There has been some good stuff in the Yuletide fic exchange this year.

* I particularly liked If the Fates Allow, which is the one for anybody who's suspected that Captain America: The First Avenger (2011, dir. Joe Johnston) is set in the same twentieth century as The Rocketeer (1991, dir. Joe Johnston). Though not so much if your interest is in blazing action sequences; the focus here is on the quiet moments between the adventures (which, given that time takes its toll, are not all happy).

* The Butterfly Also Casts a Shadow is another good one for fans of underappreciated retro action movies of the 1990s, in this case the 1994 version of The Shadow.

* On a different note, What You Make of It is an epistolatory fic, consisting of emails sent between Terry Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell and his friend Yo-less during their gap year after high school. Johnny is working at a dusty old second-hand book shop that never sells anything, which since he's Johnny turns out less boring than it sounds, while Yo-less is volunteering on a marine biology expedition and making new discoveries in the area of human biology.

4. Have I mentioned we finished our run of Snow White's Pizza Palace? Well, that was a thing that happened. I enjoyed it, and I think I'll try doing more comedy next year. The first production in the new year will be a Season of Short Plays (we're officially not calling them "one-acts" any more, because informal market research has suggested that people think that means there's only one actor). I won't be involved with that, because it overlaps with preparations for the National Band Championships, which the band is going to take a shot at because they're on this side of the continent for a change.

5. Haven't seen The Hobbit Part One or Les Mis yet, because the people I was planning to see it with are out of town. (I suppose I could see Wreck-It Ralph by myself, since the person I was hoping to see it with was [ profile] poinketh, and I know he won't be back before it closes.) Have seen the Doctor Who Christmas special, and wasn't super-impressed; it was enjoyable enough and had some really good moments, but I'm not sure it all held together, and there are worrying signs that Steven Moffat still hasn't remembered that when people say the hero of the show is a clever, unpredictable trickster figure, they're not talking about him.
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: (cheerful)
1. I have four books simultaneously in progress. This is unusual for me; my normal process is to pick a book, read it until it's done, then move onto the next one. The main reason for the current fragmentation that I'm involved in two separate paced re-reads; of the other two books, one has established itself as a carry-in-pocket-and-read-at-odd-moments book, and the last is a short story anthology.

The read-at-odd-moments book is The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles by Padraic Colum, the first (and so far only) book to get full marks at Read All the Newberys. It's the read-at-odd-moments book partly because it's an ebook, so I'm going to have it with me anyway when I get trapped in a doctor's waiting room or whatever, and partly because, although I'm enjoying reading it, I'm not in a particular hurry to get back to it when I'm not. It has to be admitted that, although I've not read this version before, I do have a pretty good idea how it's going to end.

I'm re-reading Tamora Pierce's Alanna series in synch with Mark Reads Tortall. Early Tamora Pierce has a somewhat clunkier prose style than I remember her later work having, and the pacing is oddly episodic. So far I'm finding them pleasant enough, but not so gripping that waiting between chapters is a trial.

I'm re-reading A Night in the Lonesome October according to internal chronology (the prologue is set at some point in September, then there are 31 chapters headed "October 1" to "October 31"). There's not a formal re-read community for this, but I know people who have done it (and even people who do it every year), and I decided to give it a try. Doing two re-reads at once may turn out to be pushing it, but if I'd waited for Mark to finish the Tortall books, he would probably have been reading something else interesting instead. Too early yet to tell if I'm going to regret having to stop at the end of each chapter.

2. Speaking of Mark, he recently started a new blog called Mark Plays, which is the same thing as Mark Reads but with video games. He started with Portal, right now he's nearing the end of Portal 2, and he's just announced that next week he's going to start on Dragon Age: Origins.

This has nothing to do with why I finished Portal 2 this month, which I'd already done before I read Mark's announcement, but the timing was good. I'm so used to the idea that everybody knows all the big plot twists in Portal (or at least their associated quoted-to-death catchphrases) that I was surprised and entertained that he was surprised and entertained by all of them. He is continuing to be caught off-guard by every plot twist in Portal 2, including the one that gives "Chapter Four: The Surprise" its title, which I would have sworn nobody would have actually been surprised by. But then Mark never sees any plot twist coming. It's a big part of his blogs' appeal.

3. I have finished my first-pass read-through of I Could Do Anything, If I Only Knew What It Was; it's only taken me nine months. (Finishing it at all is a victory; if I didn't have procrastination issues, I probably wouldn't have been reading it in the first place.) The book is now full of bookmarks marking the bits I could benefit from going back over in more detail, and actually doing the exercises instead of just skimming past them. (Reading Chapter Nine made me sad; it was exactly what I needed ten years ago. Though whether I'd have heeded it if I'd had it is another question...)

4. Did we really just blow through the entire year's complement of Doctor Who episodes in a single month? Apparently we did. Huh.

5. If you are interested in one or more of the following: Muppets, Doctor Who, The Avengers (the movie with Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey, Jr. and some other dudes in it, not any of the other things with that title), The Hunger Games, and/or Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, this video has something for you.
pedanther: (science)
Sherlock Season 2, re-enacted by The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre (who would like to make it quite clear that Steven Moffat's hit series Sherlock and Steven Moffat's hit series Doctor Who are two completely different things).

Shell Shocked - Trailer for a movie about an Afghanistan veteran whose quirky new flatmate may not be what he appears. Starring Martin Freeman as John Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as (no real person has a name like) Sherlock Holmes.

On a completely different note: Time lapse photography of the night sky - digitally stabilised, so that the sky remains steady and the Earth revolves beneath it.
pedanther: (Default)
1. If I had known how much Jago (which was marketed as a standalone horror novel) tied in to Kim Newman's other works, I'd have read it years ago.

2. Apparently, this is now a Thing: Wholock, in which people edit together screencaps (or, if they're feeling ambitious, video clips) to create Doctor Who-Sherlock crossover stories. For technical proficiency, my favourite is still the first one I ever saw, A Study in Time, but for story-being-told, my favourite is Why me?.

3. This weekend, I competed in the area final of the Toastmasters evaluation contest. (As noted in a previous post, I didn't win in the previous round, but the person who did bowed out due to unavailability.) I didn't win in this round either, but I enjoyed attending the contest. There were some very good speeches.

4. Also, I caught up with my brother and sister, who I don't get to see often enough. That was nice.

5. I have written fic for the prompts I got in the iPod Shuffle meme. I'll do a proper post for that later, when I've got time to do a proper post.
pedanther: (Default)
In case this might be something you're interested in:

Last Monday, Gabriel Snyder at The Atlantic Wire started blogging the US Presidential election campaign.

("So what? I'm bored with that already, and it's only February.")

No, not that one. The 1912 US Presidential election campaign.

Trending topics include Teddy Roosevelt's refusal to confirm or deny that he's planning to run, the question of whether any of the third-party candidates have a chance to upset the two-party applecart, and allegations that the news media no longer report news and instead have become tools of moneyed special interests.

And polls, of course. Snyder notes: "Few American voters have phones in 1912 (according to the Census Bureau, there are 8.7 million telephones and a population of 95.5 million) but that doesn't mean there cannot be useless presidential polls."

The 1912 Project
pedanther: (Default)
Appropriate seasonal greetings! Expression of hope that your experience of this period will be one of comfort and joy, and that the new year will be an improvement on the old.

(Reminder that I has a tumblr now. Explanation that this means there will be no seasonal links post here this year; elaboration that there are instead seasonal links queued up on my tumblr for the next few days.)

Reiteration of good wishes!
pedanther: (Default)
I have such a large collection of nifty links that I never get around to posting here, I wound up making a Tumblr page for posting them on. That seems to be working better, possibly because there's a queue option, so I just need to remember to drop by every few days and shovel more links in the back end.

The one that's just reached the head of the queue is a link to Carli Davidson's awesome photos of pets shaking their heads.
pedanther: (Default)
Carpool is a talk show on wheels: in each episode, comedian and TV personality Robert Llewellyn chats with a guest in his car while giving them a lift somewhere. The guest list to date includes a lot of other British comedians and TV personalities - including, of course, everybody else from Red Dwarf, beginning with director Ed Bye in the first episode - not to mention what seems like half of everybody who's ever been on QI (including Stephen Fry but not Alan Davies - yet) - but also names from farther afield, including science popularizers Brian Cox and Ben Goldacre, novelist Cory Doctorow, film director Duncan Jones, producer Stephen Garrett ("Spooks" and "Life on Mars", among others), and respectable Serious Actor (and Red Dwarf fan) Patrick Stewart.
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?)


pedanther: (Default)

September 2017



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