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. Swancon soon! I haven't packed yet, because I usually do that after laundry day, so as to have the widest range of clothing options, and laundry day this week has been postponed because of rain. (Note to self: Go and bring the laundry in off the line once this is posted.)


2. The brass band is contesting at the Nationals again, but I'm not going with them; I've already missed one Swancon and most of another for the previous two occasions, and I feel that's quite enough. I went to all the rehearsals, though, because it's good practice and because the person who will be filling in for me won't be available until just before the contest, so until then it was useful to have someone filling in for them.


3. I've recently rewatched some episodes of Davies-era Doctor Who that I hadn't watched in years. (Part of the impetus was that the Verities are rewatching both first seasons of Doctor Who for their podcast this year.) The stories and performances hold up pretty well, and I don't think any of the special effects struck me as fake-looking that didn't already the first time, but the incidental music! I remember, back in the day, there were a lot of complaints about Murray Gold's music being obtrusive; it never seemed so to me then, but it does now.


4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was on TV last week, the 1992 comedy film version, and I'd never watched it all the way through before, so I did, and now I kind of want to see the Yuletide Buffy fanfic we'd be getting if there'd never been the TV series afterward. There are all these hooks in the movie that everyone ignores now because the TV series went a different direction, like the idea that there's just one Watcher and one Slayer, endlessly reincarnated. Or even Buffy's ludicrously uninvolved parents - imagine what a fanfic exploration of that could be like... (I tried looking at AO3 to see if it had any movie Buffy fic, but all I found was a bit of Pike/Benny slash and a lot of TV Buffy fans who don't understand how fandom tags work.)


5. At Mark Reads, Mark has just finished reading all of Tamora Pierce's novels, and is just about to embark on Diane Duane's Young Wizards series. I was really keen on those when I was around the same age as the protagonists, but I've never re-read any of them, so that'll be interesting. (Actually, I've started re-reading the first one already, and it's holding up pretty well so far.)

ETA: 5a. Mark is, of course, also still reading through the Discworld series. He's just started on Interesting Times; it makes an... intriguing accompaniment to Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori, which I'm reading as homework for Swancon.
 
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. When I saw the trailer for Home, the new DreamWorks movie inspired by The True Meaning of Smekday, I said to myself: "This looks like it's going to be fun and entertaining in a way that's almost completely different from the book." In this, I was basically correct. And I think that was probably the right decision by the filmmakers; The True Meaning of Smekday was such a thing in itself that I don't know if it could have been successfully translated to film, so much better to look at it as a source of inspiration for a good movie that is its own thing.

(Also, I was amused that, although they left out the running gag about the aliens giving themselves inappropriate human-type names, so we don't get J.Lo the Boov, they gave it a tip of the hat by casting J.Lo the human as the heroine's mom.)


2. As if I didn't have enough TV to catch up on (which reminds me: must catch up on Agents of SHIELD), the premiere of Thunderbirds Are Go was on at a time I could actually watch it, so now I'm following that as well. They've done a slightly odd thing where instead of going the usual reboot route and starting from the beginning again, they've actually advanced a few years from the point where the original series ended, so it's kind of like a sequel as well as a reboot, but because they've tweaked the setting and most of the characters it's a sequel to a version of the original series that never actually existed. I'm not sure what I think of it yet. I'm also not sure what to make of the fact that I get a swell of nostalgia every time the theme music plays, considering I never actually watched the original series.


3. I've been having ups and downs with HabitRPG lately. I got my first Perfect Day (completed all the habits on the daily recurring habits list) on the day before Swancon, though admittedly only because I'd disabled the habits I couldn't do while I was away from home, and those included most of the ones I really struggle with. (I then proceeded to blow the "Go to bed at a sensible time" habit every day of Swancon, so no more Perfect Days for me.) On the other hand, being away for a week threw me off my stride and I died twice in my first week back, after having managed to avoid dying at all up until then. Fortunately, dying in HabitRPG isn't too terribly painful - they don't want you to stop using HabitRPG, after all.


4. I have not yet given up on writing a proper post about what I did at Swancon. (I tried writing them as I went this year, but about halfway through the first full day I got too busy enjoying myself to waste time writing about it.)


5. I have not yet given up on writing a proper post about games I played at Swancon and on International Tabletop Day.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. We leave tomorrow for Brisbane to defend our title at the Australian National Band Championships. After tonight's rehearsal, we're feeling pretty confident.

More importantly, it'll be a fun trip full of new and interesting things to see, even if we don't actually win.


[1a. It's a sign of how focussed I've lately been on the upcoming Championships that I'd completely forgotten, until I saw what this post was next to on my friendslist, how annoyed I was when I realized it would mean missing Swancon. It would happen in a year when the Guest of Honor was somebody I particularly wanted to meet. I hope those of you who are going have a good time.]


2. After poring over various lists of new and interesting things to see in Brisbane, the one I really have my heart set on is the Lone Pine Koala Santuary. (More for the platypodes than the koalas, if I'm honest, though I expect I'll also look at the koalas while I'm there.)


3. Another new and interesting thing is that it'll be my first experience with commercial air travel: several hours in a Boeing, with all the attendant luggage hassles and waiting-around-between-connecting-flights and so on, when my only previous experience with air travel was a brief sightseeing trip in a plane that seated about eight people. That wasn't too bad, except when something happened that reminded me there wasn't anything solid holding us up, but it remains to be seen what kind of force multiplier will come into play when the time stretches in hours.


4. The Brisbane trip turned out to be the straw that broke the camel's back (that's kind of a violent image, come to think of it; are there any less unpleasant alternatives?), and I have bought my first mobile phone. Yes, my first. The shop assistant, who is about my age, was appalled when I told her. It's actually not been that much of an adjustment; I've owned personal digital assistants of various kinds for many years, it's just that this one also makes phone calls and does text messages.


5. Despite the mobile phone, I don't expect to be on the interwebs much while I'm away, so this is probably the last you'll be hearing from me until I get back.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. So, the National Band Championships? To our utter, utter astonishment, we won our division, and are now the Australian D Grade Champions. Discussions are underway about the practicality of going to next year's championships (which will have returned to the far side of the continent) to defend the title.


2. My hotel room number for the weekend (assigned entirely without any input from myself) was 42.


3. I got to more of Swancon than I'd feared, if less than I'd hoped (and in the process usefully expanded my working knowledge of the city's public transport options). I enjoyed what I got to, and caught up with the usual suspects, including [livejournal.com profile] leecetheartist and [livejournal.com profile] rdmasters, who as usual introduced me to several games I was not previously familiar with. (I particularly liked Winter Tales, where the movement of the pieces on the board is just the skeleton of the game, and the emphasis is on collaboratively spinning a story about what the characters represented by the pieces are up to. I like collaborative storytelling. Other games I was introduced to included King of Tokyo, a silly but fun game in which giant monsters slug it out for the chance to trash Japan, and Roll Through the Ages, which had a bit too much number-crunching and not enough story for my taste.)

The guests at next year's Swancon are to include Tamora Pierce and Isobel Carmody.


4. I have a new gadget, a Kobo ebook reader. I haven't really used it much yet, because when I'm at home I prefer to make inroads on the enormous pile of unread dead-tree books in my living room, and save the ebooks for when I'm travelling. (I had intended to put it to work on the trip back, but it turned out I couldn't actually activate it and load it up until I got home.)


5. Too many people dying lately. I particularly regret the loss of Richard Griffiths, who played one of my favourite fictional detectives, Henry Crabbe, in the TV series Pie in the Sky. If that doesn't ring a bell, his film credits include wicked uncles in both Withnail and I and the Harry Potter series. He also had a noteworthy stage career. By all accounts he was a really nice guy, and will be missed.
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 [livejournal.com 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: (Default)
1. I went to Swancon 2012 (Doomcon) last month. I have not yet given up on writing a proper post about that.

2. What I've Been Reading Lately: The Idylls of the Queen, by Phyllis Ann Karr, is a murder mystery set in the court of King Arthur. One of the Knights of the Round Table drops dead at a dinner hosted by Queen Guinevere, a grieving kinsman accuses Guinevere, and it's up to Sir Kay to figure out who really did it and why. In the process of uncovering the murderer's motive, he also solves an earlier murder that everybody thought had been solved already. One of the big strengths of the book is the well-drawn and faceted characters. Which is no mean feat: my enduring impression of the Morte d'Arthur is of a succession of arbitrarily strange events that often left me wondering what on earth any of the people involved thought they were doing; this book offers a fairly convincing set of answers. And Kay's traditional reputation for cowardice and boorishness is here largely due to an entirely understandable tendency to roll his eyes at the ridiculous scrapes his fellow knights always get into when they go questing. I was also particularly impressed by Karr's version of Mordred.

3. I know there's at least one person on my friendslist who'd like to see a picture of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold.

4. Likewise, there's at least one person on my friendslist who does those exchanges where you create an illustration inspired by someone else's fic, or a fic inspired by someone else's illustration, so I thought I'd point this out: in the IF Cover Stories minicomp, artists are being invited to offer images which will be used to inspire interactive fiction games.

5. I wrote the first 4 of these things two weeks ago, put it aside until I thought of a 5th, and my brain promptly checked it off as written. (Almost the same thing as "posted", right?) It should therefore be noted that the art deadline for Cover Stories, mentioned in point 4, is... um... today. Whoops. This is obviously why I usually put off writing posts until just before I post them.
pedanther: (Default)
Boy, I'm behind on LJ posting.

It's not just that it's taken me a week to do this month's fiction log; Swancon was in April, and not only haven't I done a report, I haven't even done the usual "I guess I won't be doing a report this year" post.

Other things I haven't mentioned:

* The Rep Club's latest production, which we've been rehearsing since April, and which opened on Thursday.
* The Rep Club's next production, which will mark the Club's 80th birthday, and will be directed by a professional director, Ray Omodei, who used to be a member of the Club many years ago (though not, I think, quite 80).
* Recent developments at the Toastmaster's Club
* A week of theatrical workshops I recently attended
pedanther: (Default)
I am going to Swancon. I may be some time.
pedanther: (Default)
On past showing, I probably won't get around to writing a detailed report of my experience at Swancon this year. If I did, it would probably include the following:

* What I read on the train to Perth
* My cunning plan to have fewer books at the end of the convention than at the beginning fails again
* I was on a panel again this year.
* It was about Comics You Should Be Reading.
* In my opinion, you should be reading Pluto, PS 238, and Atomic Robo.
* I didn't have a picture in the art show this year (didn't get it finished in time).
* Games I played for the first time (including Agricola, Chrononauts, Tobago, and We Didn't Playtest This At All)
* Games I played for the second time (Dominion)
* Games I still wanted to play, but once again didn't get to ([livejournal.com profile] drhoz's Call of Cthulhu game)
* People I met (including [livejournal.com profile] alias_sqbr, [livejournal.com profile] ariaflame, [livejournal.com profile] leecetheartist, [livejournal.com profile] rdmasters)

Edited to add:

* Person handing out chocolate eggs on Good Friday: meant well, but perhaps a tad unclear on the concept.
pedanther: (bem)
It doesn't look like I'm going to find time to do a detailed Swancon report, so I should at least note some of the things I'd intended to write about:

* What I read on the train to Perth
* What I failed to avoid watching on the train to Perth
* My cunning plan to have fewer books at the end of the convention than at the beginning, and what became of it
* I had a picture in the art show (a personal first)
* I was on a panel (another personal first)
* It was a panel about why you should all be reading Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe series
* Richard Morgan's guest of honour speech
* The King of the Copper Mountains
* Grant Watson's presentation on Walt Disney's animated feature films
* Why I went to the book launch for Jenny Blackford's The Priestess and the Slave, which I'd thought I wasn't interested in
* It wasn't because of the free ouzo
* Games I played for the first time (including Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game (we humans won, which I gather is not usual), Wings of War (I was the second pilot to shoot someone down, and the third to be shot down) and Rock Band)
* Games I played for the second time (Swancon Quidditch)
* Games I didn't get to play, but wanted to ([livejournal.com profile] drhoz's Cthulhu in Hollywood roleplaying scenario)
pedanther: (Default)
I'm back. Details may follow in due course.
pedanther: (bem)
Off to Perth for Swancon tomorrow. No internet access while I'm there, so I'll be even quieter than usual (and fall even further behind on reading my friendslist).

I've decided to enter the Art Show this year, with a picture derived from the series of bizarre Things I sketched for DrawMo last year, with titles like "The next big Thing", "A Thing of the past", and "The simple Things in life are often the best". I couldn't settle on which one I liked most, so I compiled five of them together and called it "A few of my favourite Things". Now I'm alternating between paranoia that it'll get destroyed on the trip and paranoia that it'll survive and everybody will hate it, but on the whole I'm feeling cautiously optimistic and glad I'm trying something new.


In other news, my favourite clue from a cryptic crossword I did yesterday:
Worries owls when they try to fix problems (15)

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