pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
David McGillivray, Walter Zerlin Jnr. The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society's Production of The Mikado
Terry Pratchett. Carpe Jugulum (e)

In progress
Terry Pratchett. The Fifth Elephant (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
Josephine Tey. A Shilling for Candles
pedanther: (Default)
1. I've been listening a lot lately to the podcast Film Reroll, which has the premise that each episode a group of people play a one-off roleplaying campaign based on a famous movie, just to see how far off course the plot can go when it depends on dice rolls and player imagination instead of having an author handing out plot points and making sure things pan out in the way they intend. Pretty far off course, it turns out; apart from the obvious consequences like people muffing their dice rolls really badly and everybody dying, one of my favourite examples so far is an episode where one of the players ended up sitting on the sidelines for the whole thing, because the plot took a direction early on that completely bypassed the character they'd been planning to play.

Another example is the campaign I've just finished listening to, The Wizard of Oz. It follows the movie fairly faithfully up until the protagonists meet the Wizard (though a bit more smoothly in some places, as the players get some good dice rolls in when facing the obstacles the Wicked Witch puts in their path) -- and then the players have to decide how best to tackle the job of stealing the Wicked Witch's broom for the Wizard, at which point the plot jumps dramatically off the rails, and the campaign ends up turning into a four-episode, eight-hour epic fantasy quest with cut-throat politics and dragons. Bits of it are amazingly poetic and surprisingly moving, and it's the one so far where I really felt at the end like I had been immersed in a story and not just been listening to a group of friends joking around. (Not that there's anything wrong with listening to a group of friends joking around; that describes most of the podcasts I listen to regularly.)


2. Our run of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has ended, as usual just when I felt I was really beginning to get the hang of it. (If I ever get to the end of a show and think, that's okay, there wasn't anything left to do here, that's when I'll really be sad.)

Next up is another production with a very long title, The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society production of The Mikado. It's this year's big production by the director who's done Oliver! and Chicago and suchlike in previous years, and I was actually quite looking forward to having nothing to do with it for a change, but then I was invited to come on board as assistant director and gets some hands-on experience in the running of a big production, and I didn't feel I could say no.


3. I got to go to exactly one meeting of the gaming group between the end of rehearsals for Spelling Bee and the beginning of rehearsals for Mikado, but I got to do the things I'd wanted to do, so that was good. As I mentioned last time, I had two games I wanted to play, and I got to play both.

Ingenious is an abstract pattern-based competitive game with a tricky scoring mechanic where each player is scored on several different criteria and only the lowest score counts, so if you get too focussed on building up on one score and neglect the others you can easily find yourself in real trouble. I started playing the app version last year and was sufficiently impressed by it to buy the physical game in the hope of finding people to play it with me. As it happened I found two, which made things interesting because the app version only does two-player games and so I'd never played a three-player game before. It turns out that, like many other games, it's rather more complicated and more difficult to get on top of with two opponents than with only one. I ended up not coming last, and considered myself well satisfied with my performance. The other two players seemed to enjoy themselves too, so I expect I'll take it along again another time.

Forbidden Island, which my brother gave me for Christmas, is a collaborative game in which the players are exploring an island for centuries-old lost treasures while dealing with the inconvenient fact that the island is rapidly sinking. (If memory serves, the manual claims that this is the result of an ancient booby trap set by the owners of the lost treasures, who apparently really didn't want them to be found again.) Mechanically, it's kind of like a more family friendly (less complicated, less worldwide catastrophe depicting) version of the collaborative game Pandemic, which is not a coincidence as they're both designed by Matt Leacock.


4. Recently the emergency jump start box in the car ran low on juice, which it announced by beeping loudly and regularly and loudly, which inspired me to drive directly home and look for the charge cable instead of stopping on the way to do the shopping as I'd intended. This prompted three observations:

First, that it was probably designed deliberately to make a loud and irritating noise clearly audible throughout the car specifically to make it impossible for its owner to contemplate putting off the job of recharging it, because it's not a good idea to put off charging a piece equipment you might need in an emergency. In which case, congratulations to the designer, it worked.

Secondly, while driving home I had cause to ponder the subjective nature of time, because the beeps didn't always seem regularly spaced; sometimes they seemed closer together, and other times further apart. The most convincing mechanism I've seen proposed for the subjective experience of time changing speed is that it's a function of memory; the same amount of information is coming in at the same rate all the time, but when nothing much is happening we don't bother to remember most of it, and then it seems like time has gone by really quickly, but when things get exciting more detail gets stored and then it seems in retrospect that the experience was stretched out more.

Thirdly, if I hadn't been able to find the charge cable when I got home, I'd have been stuck with a loudly beeping box that I had no way to shut up, and that would not have been fun. Here's where I benefited from some of the work I've been doing sorting my clutter into boxes. It took a few attempts to guess which box I would have sorted the charge cable into (gadgets and accessories? extension cords? stuff I'm going to put away as soon as I figure where it goes?) but it was still probably faster and less stressful than if I'd had nothing more to go on than "it's in this huge pile of clutter somewhere, probably".


5. We had the state election last weekend. Overall, it was a landslide victory for the Labor Party, which has been in opposition for the last eight years, and a crushing defeat for the Liberal-National coalition government. (Obligatory Aus politics footnote: The Liberal Party's name refers to their economic stance; they're conservative on social issues.) In my local electorate, the contest was much closer, to the point that we still, a week later, don't know exactly who the winner is. Normally by this point in a vote count it's clear who won and the rest of the ballot counting is just to find out by how much, but in this case it's split almost evenly between the three major party candidates, which never happens. In this case, the Labor candidate has the lift that his entire party's getting but is a newcomer to politics running against two well-known local identities with long track records in public service. The Libs' candidate may even have got a boost from his own party's misbehaviour, or rather from his response to it; a couple of times during the election campaign he got caught wrongfooted when his party announced policies that would have a signficant local effect without warning him first, and he wasn't shy about saying what he thought about that.

(In other news, the populist party that was expected to be a protest vote magnet did much worse in the election than expected, possibly because they were frankly and very visibly incompetent, with several of their candidates being kicked out of the party during the election campaign for doing things that a proper recruitment process ought to have caught ahead of time. It's all very well going "vote for us because you can't trust those professional politicians and we're not professionals", but being so utterly unprofessional inevitably invites people to wonder how you can be trusted to the run the place if you can't even hold the party together long enough to get over the finish line.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener. Atomic Robo: The Savage Sword of Dr Dinosaur
T Kingfisher. Nine Goblins (e)
T Kingfisher. The Seventh Bride (e)
Sharon Lee. Carousel Seas (e)
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Ghost Ship (e) (re-read)
Terry Pratchett. Moving Pictures (e) (re-read)
Patricia C Wrede. The Magician's Ward (e)
Patricia C Wrede. Mairelon the Magician (e) (re-read)

In progress
Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener. Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne (e) (re-read)
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Necessity's Child (e) (re-read)
George MacDonald. The Princess and the Goblin
Tamora Pierce. Street Magic (e)
Terry Pratchett. Reaper Man (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books
Simon Singh. Big Bang

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

Top of the to-read pile
Jung Chang. Empress Dowager Cixi
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
G K Chesterton. The Incredulity of Father Brown (e)
George MacDonald. At the Back of the North Wind
Tamora Pierce. Magic Steps (e)
Eric Frank Russell. Wasp
Ryk E Spoor. Grand Central Arena (e) (re-read)
Ryk E Spoor. Spheres of Influence (e)
Ursula Vernon. Dragonbreath

In progress
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Ghost Ship (e) (re-read)
Tamora Pierce. Street Magic (e)
Terry Pratchett. Moving Pictures (e) (re-read)

Abandoned
Kylie Chan. White Tiger (e)

Non-fiction books in progress
Simon Singh. Big Bang

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

Top of the to-read pile
George MacDonald. The Princess and the Goblin
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Agent of Change (re-read)
Terry Pratchett. Sourcery (e) (re-read)

In progress
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Carpe Diem (re-read)

In hiatus
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Saltation (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Lundy Bancroft. Why Does He Do That? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men
Sara Douglass. The Betrayal of Arthur

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

Top of the to-read pile
Terry Pratchett. Wyrd Sisters
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Rehearsals for The Duchess of Coolgardie continue. We're at the point now where we've learned our parts enough to relax into them somewhat and explore the possibilities for enriching them, instead of getting stuck on worrying about whether we'll have our lines down in time for opening. Last weekend we had some workshops with a couple of professional theatre people our director knows, which inspired some of the cast to lift their game (including, let's be real, me). There will be another set of workshops this weekend, which will hopefully have a similarly improving effect.


2. The other local community theatre group's production of The Wizard of Oz opened today, and I went to the opening night. I enjoyed it a lot, and although it had some of the weak points one usually gets when community theatre attempts big-budget spectacle - particularly since they were basing it on the movie rather than a version designed for live theatre - there were some moments that were genuinely magical. (On which note, they got major points from me for the way they handled the bit where the ruby slippers disappear off the Wicked Witch's feet and appear on Dorothy's.)


3. The annual performing arts festival has been and gone. I was on the organising committee again this year, and acted as MC for most of it, although I had to skip out for part of one afternoon to go to a Duchess rehearsal. Annoyingly, the part I missed was the part with all the character vocal sections, which is always one of the highlights for me. There was plenty else to enjoy in the parts I was present for, though. It ended on a high, with the final session of the final day featuring various vocal ensembles doing impressive harmony work.

Weirdly, I had the old show-about-to-open nightmare a few days after the performing arts festival was over. Didn't bother me much, I know it too well by now, but the timing was odd.


4. Another thing that's been and gone is the annual Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest and Table Topics Contest. I usually take part in the Table Topics contest, but this year it was another victim of being scheduled against a Duchess rehearsal.


5. I did go to see Guardians of the Galaxy before the local run finished. I enjoyed it overall, but there was room for improvement in several areas: most blatantly, a number of skeevy jokes that I think it could have done perfectly well without.
pedanther: (Default)
1. I'm re-reading the last few volumes of Sandman along with Mark Reads Sandman. (To start with I just dipped into the books when I wanted to check a detail, then I started re-reading bits, and now it's definitely a continuous re-read.)

I don't think I've mentioned Mark Reads here before, though I keep meaning to. The general premise is that Mark reads a popular work of fiction that he doesn't know anything about, one chapter a day, and after each chapter he writes and blogs a post reacting to the events of the chapter and trying to predict where the story's going next.
Read more... )
Things Mark has read include Harry Potter, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, and The Hunger Games. He also has a companion blog, Mark Watches, where he's currently episode-by-episoding his way through Buffy and Angel.


2. I've more or less given up on the multiplayer aspect of Worlds in Time, the Doctor Who online multiplayer game, and am working my way through the storyline as if it were single-player mode, accompanied only by the computer-operated assistants. Read more... )


3. Meanwhile, Portal 2 has an actual single-player storyline that I've been working my way through. Read more... )


4. For my thoughts on Brave and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, see my previous Five Things post.


5. I went to see Steel Magnolias mainly because I had several friends in the cast; I wasn't at all sure it would be my kind of thing. As it turned out, I liked it a lot. This suggests that there may be whole unexplored areas of fiction that have drifted by me because they seemed on the surface to be not my kind of thing. If so, I'm not sure I want to know; it's not as if I don't have a large enough pile of things to read and watch as it is.

(There's probably some clever way to tie this back around to point 1, since one of the things Mark Reads is built on is Mark discovering and falling in love with works that he'd previously drifted by because they superficially appeared to be not his kind of thing. But it's late, and I'm tired, and I'm not going to bother.)
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Barbara Hambly. Bride of the Rat God (re-read)
Neil Gaiman, et al. Sandman: Worlds' End (re-read)

In progress
Neil Gaiman, et al. Sandman: The Kindly Ones (re-read)
Naomi Novik. Crucible of Gold

Non-fiction books
Di Trevis. Being a Director

In progress
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
Ben Aaronovitch. Whispers Under Ground
pedanther: (Default)
1. Chicago has concluded successfully. I get a bit of a break while everybody's scattered for school holidays, then it's the annual season of one-acts, which this year will include my directorial debut. (And, wouldn't you know it, every one-act this year is something I would have auditioned for like a shot if I hadn't already signed on to direct.)

2. As of the beginning of the new financial year, I am down to working four days a week, with no decrease in my weekly salary. The secret ingredient: An enormous pile of accrued holiday time, which I wasn't looking likely to use up any time soon, since the reason it's piled up is that I hardly ever find time for long holidays. So what's happening is that I'm taking a two-month holiday entirely in Wednesdays.

3. I went to see Pixar's new movie Brave last Wednesday, and enjoyed it a great deal despite having guessed the big plot twist that the trailers carefully avoided mentioning. (All the people who talked about the movie on my friendslists and blogrolls had also carefully avoided saying what the twist was, but when half a dozen people each say something that's not a spoiler in itself, it's sometimes possible to put two and two, or one and one and one and one, together.) If you've seen the movie, or don't mind spoilers, you might be interested in this essay (not by me) titled, with irony tags firmly in place, "Just Another Princess Movie".

4. As I mentioned when I started, I've been rewatching Cinar's version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I have now finished it, with, I'm sad to report, something of a sense of relief. It was fun revisiting a childhood favourite at first, but over the course of 52 episodes its shortcomings got a bit wearing. (Jo Walton occasionally writes about the Suck Fairy, who steals the books you loved as a child and replaces them with oddly similar books that aren't as well written, contain troubling isms that you never saw before, and in which that favourite scene you've revisited a hundred times in memory is merely a single baldly-written sentence. The Suck Fairy visits animated series too, leaving a trail of regrettable acting, shorthand animation, obviously recycled footage, and - in this case - an annoyingly intrusive narrator who insists on explaining stuff you already know. I'm almost certain she wasn't there when I watched this series every day before school.)

5. A while ago I got talked into buying an on-demand water purifier, the kind that attaches to the end of your tap, even though I'd been happy with the filter jug I already had. It's ended up on the bathroom sink, because that's the only tap in this old house with a tap modern enough for the attachment to attach to. I think I will probably end up admitting to being happy I have it, but not just yet because I'm still grumpy about their sales technique. (I did put my foot down, firmly, when they started asking whether I have relatives or friends who'd be interested in a water purifier. Maybe I do and maybe I don't, but I certainly don't know anybody who'd thank me for siccing a salesperson onto them.)
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Verlyn Flieger. Pig Tale
Murray Leinster. The Forgotten Planet
Ellis Peters. The House of Green Turf
Ellis Peters. The Knocker on Death's Door
Ellis Peters. Mourning Raga

Non-fiction books
Verlyn Flieger. Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World

In progress
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
Di Trevis. Being a Director
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Ellis Peters. Black is the Colour of My True Love's Heart (re-read)
Ellis Peters. Flight of a Witch
Ellis Peters. The Grass Widow's Tale
Ellis Peters. A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs (re-read)
Ellis Peters. The Piper on the Mountain
Terry Pratchett. Snuff
Anthony Price. War Game

In progress
Murray Leinster. The Forgotten Planet

Non-fiction books
Verlyn Flieger. Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien's Mythology

In progress
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
Ellis Peters. The House of Green Turf
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Bennett Cerf, Roy McKie. Bennett Cerf's Book of Riddles
Marianne de Pierres. Code Noir
Marianne de Pierres. Crash Deluxe
Marianne de Pierres. Nylon Angel
Phyllis Ann Karr. The Idylls of the Queen
Anthony Price. Our Man in Camelot
Brandon Sanderson. The Way of Kings

In progress
Murray Leinster. The Forgotten Planet

Non-fiction books
Declan Donnellan. The Actor and the Target

In progress
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
Verlyn Flieger. Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien's Mythology
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Neil Gaiman, Yoshitako Amano. Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Kim Newman. The Hound of the D'Urbervilles
Kim Newman. Jago

Non-fiction books
(collection). Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It

In progress
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
Marianne de Pierres. Nylon Angel
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Paul Cornell, et al. Superman: The Black Ring volume 1
Paul Cornell, et al. Superman: The Black Ring volume 2
Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse. Chicago
Kim Newman. Bad Dreams

In progress
Kim Newman. The Hound of the D'Urbervilles

Non-fiction books
Kari Maund, Phil Nanson. The Four Musketeers: The True Story of D'Artagnan, Porthos, Aramis & Athos

In progress
(collection). Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It

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

Top of the to-read pile
Kim Newman. Jago
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Ben Aaronovitch. Moon Over Soho
Sid Fleischman. The Ghost in the Noonday Sun
Ellis Peters. Death and the Joyful Woman
Ellis Peters. Fallen Into the Pit (re-read)
Ryk E Spoor. Grand Central Arena (e)

In progress
Kim Newman. Bad Dreams
Kim Newman. The Hound of the D'Urbervilles

Non-fiction books 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
Kari Maund, Phil Nanson. The Four Musketeers: The True Story of D'Artagnan, Porthos, Aramis & Athos
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
(anthology). Ocean
Ina R Friedman, Allen Say. How My Parents Learned to Eat
Ayano Imai. The 108th Sheep

In progress
Ben Aaronovitch. Moon Over Soho
Kim Newman. The Hound of the D'Urbervilles

Non-fiction books in progress
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
Kim Newman. Bad Dreams
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Babette Cole. Truelove
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Ghost Ship (e)
Mary Shelley. Frankenstein
Walter Simonson, et al. Thor by Walter Simonson
Caroline Stevermer. A College of Magics (re-read)
Caroline Stevermer. A Scholar of Magics
Eve Sutton, Lynley Dodd. My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes (re-read)

Non-fiction books
(none)

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

Top of the to-read pile
Kim Newman. The Hound of the D'Urbervilles
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark. Gotham Central: Jokers and Madmen
Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener. Atomic Robo and Other Strangeness
Mike Costa, Fiona Staples. Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor
PC Hodgell. Bound in Blood
PC Hodgell. To Ride a Rathorn (re-read)
Bob Ingersoll, Tony Isabella. The Case of the Colonist's Corpse
Greg Rucka, JH Williams III. Batwoman: Elegy

In progress
Walter Simonson, et al. Thor by Walter Simonson

Non-fiction books
(none)

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

Top of the to-read pile
Mary Shelley. Frankenstein
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Dave Luckett. Subversive Activity

Non-fiction books
(none)

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

Top of the to-read pile
PC Hodgell. To Ride a Rathorn
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Neil Gaiman. Odd and the Frost Giants
David A McIntee. First Frontier (re-read)
John Millington Synge. The Playboy of the Western World

Non-fiction books
(none)

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

Top of the to-read pile
Dave Luckett. Subversive Activity

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