prodigy: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones, scruffy, bleeding, and grinning. (no men like me)
So I've seen it before, but I was recently re-linked to ThinkGeek's $30,000 Iron Throne -- made of fiberglass, really, but honest advertising never got anyone anywhere. It's mindbogglingly expensive for a site that mostly sells novelty pens and mugs, of course, and kind of cutesily packaged with well-meaning joking malapropisms for flavor text (I'm not sure they remember what the iron price actually is, but okay). But I laughed, it was ridiculous enough. Oh, ThinkGeek, what a card, that sort of thing.

Then I'm like: wow, geek culture has gotten commercialized. The "Iron Throne" is a good example of that, but so is all of ThinkGeek honestly, and San Diego Comic-Con, and io9, and... everything, really. This is a really obvious yesterday observation that lots of people have made so I am not trying to make a new observation here, just pondering my own personal experience with it in the form of A Song of Ice and Fire fandom and how the experience of being a "fan" has changed since the advent of GoT.

I was about 13 when I first read A Game of Thrones. )
prodigy: Sherlock concentrates looking into a microscope. (rebels at stagnation)
This ep picked up the pace a bit from "Piggy Piggy" and I'm glad they're moving the storyline along in a very un-House M.D. sort of way (Ben and Vivien actively trying to sell the house and all); I just hope we're not stuck in a new status quo with the Harmons somehow never realizing that Constance and Moira sabotage all their attempts to do anything that get them out of the house, like a never-ending loop of The Prisoner in some universe where Number Six doesn't realize Number Two keeps dragging him back and is like "wait, how did I end up in the Village again?? Weird!" If they go somewhere meta with it -- IE that the house itself is cursed that no one who moves in moves out except in a body bag and will contrive various meta ways to make this happen, including Constance and Moira's interference, other life events, whatever -- then that'd be better, making the premise of "Harmons are in fact STUCK here" explicit. I like breaking-the-curse metaplots. That assumes the show's thought through that far, though.

AHS is kind of interesting to watch because it's such a typical middle-of-the-roadly bigoted example of horror media in terms of what stuff it leans on for creep factor and scares. Which is to say, a lot of horror stories are about trotting out freakshows, and freakshows wind up featuring a lot of 'grotesques' that Mom and Pop and Bobby and Susie in front of the TV are afraid of -- cripples, crazies, queers, vengeful women, children, you name it, if your average all-American John Smith might be secretly afraid of it, then it's fair game for the horror genre. Turning marginalized people or controversial concepts into scary monsters is the backbone of horror. Xenophobia is the backbone of horror. H.P. Lovecraft is the xenophobic granddaddy of this in the United States.

AHS, xenophobia, and bigotry in horror in general; warning for references to violence and abuse )

In other words, it's the same-ol' same-ol' bullshit. I watch because Wednesday is a boring night, the Harmon family themselves and the story are entertaining, I like to know what's going on in the horror genre, and there's nothing on TV that doesn't perpetuate the same-ol' same-ol' anyway. It's TV. It's the centrist Republicans of the media political caucuses. It's there to tell middle America what it already knows. And horror is generally there to reassure middle America that they're not bad people for locking their doors to the people they lock their doors to -- after all, strangers are scary. AHS is like a rogues gallery of that.

Speaking of Ryan Murphy, I loathe Glee with the passion of a thousand fiery suns burning the fuel of the universe's autotune machines but somehow his horrible pandering Disney Channel show has produced a cover of a song (that I normally also hate? Adele knock it off with the Whitney Houston runs) that now sounds like a haunting bitter love song from a queer person to their ex-partner they're still in love with who's chosen to settle down into a hetero life without them. Naya Rivera, why can't you be on a better show?

prodigy: Charles Vess illustration of a harpist and a woman leaning over him. (had i known but yesterday)
The Walking Dead 2.04 - Cherokee Rose: This show is my favorite at the moment. Highlights of this episode were Glenn and, uh, recent developments in Glenn's life (:D) (:DDDDD) and the titular scene with Daryl and his "Cherokee rose" story. I can't underscore enough how rare it is to see an actively heroic portrayal of a young Asian man, or Asian man altogether, on Western TV, and while I'd love for him to get more screentime I'm happy for Glenn's presence in this cast. Even putting aside the copious Fu Manchu racism, I am dead tired of fictional Asian men who exist primarily as mysterious antiheroic demigods to interact with white men and women (Inception) or blocking figures for Asian women who want to be Westernized (The Joy Luck Club; Lost; fucking everything). Yeah, we get it, TV. We're evil. You're threatened by us. We know. We know. Pretty much in the marrow of our bones and every time we see an Asian face crop up in a movie and cringe wondering how hard the slap's going to be this time we know.

Anyway, Daryl keeps on being my favorite and gets some of the most compelling material, though Shane's still kind of like a beautiful composition you can't get out of your head played in a jarring nerve-jangling minor key. Dale and T-Dog's bonding is pretty much always A+ too and T-Dog could do with more screentime of his own.


Marie Antoinette: Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette was one of the free on-demand movies today so we decided to watch it. Given I know Coppola mostly as the cancer that killed Godfather III /b/ and the creator of Orientalist-stereotyping masterpiece Lost in Translation, I didn't really get my hopes up, but --

-- man, okay, here's the thing, Coppola does some of the worst attempts at artsy filmmaking I've seen outside of freshman film students' term projects. Just like a parrot trying to sing the syllables of "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" on YouTube, it's like she watched a film by, I don't know, someone with any filmmaking talent and tried to limply copy what they did without realizing why they did it. She's like an artist who does nothing but trace from DeviantArt stock and animu illustration and slap on Photoshop brushes. Her movies are full of these long, overdone, music-video-esque shots of random things -- pretty scenery, costumes, people doing various activities -- that don't serve any purpose but to fill up space and provide Flickr-esque screenshots, they don't provide any thematic or storytelling information, they're just there. If you chopped out all the random montages of things in Marie Antoinette and pared the film down to things actually happening and people actually saying things, the whole thing would be about 20 minutes long. Along with a bunch of hammered-in shots intended to make the viewer feel like Versailles is a foreign and surreal world, which is a cheap trick for any period film. It's like she had 1 page of content on her English paper and padded the rest out with fluff words. I don't know how this movie got made.

Even if it'd been any good as a movie, though, Marie Antoinette still would've been royalist-sympathizing cloying nostalgic historical revisionist Rococo-porn crap. It's what it set out to be. Does the world really need another Scarlet Pimpernel? Have we not cried enough tears for the poor, sad fate of the poor, sad aristocrats who were so tragically murdered? Where are the sexy period pieces about the millions of people they starved, brutalized, enslaved, raped, and murdered? Sic semper tyrannis, for fuck's sake, it's one thing to portray unfortunate Louis XVI as a hapless, well-intentioned human being far in over his awkward young head with his ancestors' mistakes (which Jason Schwarzman did a pretty good job with, considering the material), it's another to add to the general canon of English-language media portraying the French Revolution as a brutal force of nature and the Russian Revolution as a terrible tragedy and everything else telling us that royalty is romantic and popular revolution is bloodthirsty communism. I've had enough to tell me that Marie Antoinette felt pain like anyone else. I think it's pretty much impossible not to know that. I've never had Hollywood try to convince me that the people who overthrew the monarchy did too -- just the continual text and subtext that the Bourbon and Romanov families were tragic, romantic victims and that Maximilien Robespierre and the Bolsheviks were cruel upstarts who eventually got what was coming to them, and that starving people everywhere should do like good little subjects and wait for moderate, gradual change. Like one year of Terror cancels out centuries and centuries of terror.

Hell with that, you know what? Louis Bourbon and Maria Antonia were the 1%. I never see historical films about the 99% outside of HBO, where you're supposed to gawk at all the grittiness. Maybe it's because not enough of them were debutantes. I think Hollywood has cried enough tears for the Bourbon family. Let someone shed some for the people of fucking France for a change. And not just France.
prodigy: Julius Caesar from HBO's Rome painted and adorned for his triumph. (it was a wicked and wild wind)
1. Mosquitoes tried to devour me today. I shit you not; I never had much of a mosquito problem up until now, between living on the West Coast and having some kind of mosquito- and flea-repellent nasty O+ anemic blood that keeps the vampires away. Until today. [personal profile] relia and I had this misadventure that involved wandering around a creepy post-apocalyptic-looking Half-Life 2 landscape, and the moment I stepped onto it mosquitoes swarmed around me like loving vassals paying worship to their long-lost fucking mosquito king. Bloodsucking worship. Mostly ignored [personal profile] relia too. What the hell. Reacquainting self with OFF!.

2. Follow-up on Gay YA stuff, [personal profile] deepad did a solid post on the subject of queer YA lists, diversity-in-YA lists, and whether representation is actually good representation. Or, if you have ever felt, like me, that YA fiction is full of Sassy Gay Friend, here are a bunch of people who understand you. Also GTFO Libba Bray.

3. Gurl Goes To Africa is my new favorite Tumblr. Go follow it, you will love it unless you are, in fact, Gurl who Goes To Africa: in which case make like the aforementioned gentleman in #2 and look at your life and also your choices.
prodigy: "Blondie" from Leone's Old West trilogy accompanied by Pikachu. (vess harpist)
A car nearly killed me on the way home from Wawa. This is in no way relevant to the rest of my post, but it just happened and like a real American I feel the urge to tell someone about it. It slammed on the brakes in the middle of its lane going about 60 MPH and somehow I had the reflexes not just to brake, but to realize a half-second into braking that there was no way Nemo would slow in time not to hit the other car and swerve into a fucking Tokyo drift around it. Given slightly slower reflexes, that wouldn't have gone that way. This, folks, is why you drive stone cold sober -- it's not about being sober enough to work the steering wheel and stay in your lane, it's about being sober enough to save your own life before your conscious brain even realizes you're in danger. This is bumping "get Nemo's brakes checked" higher on my list of financial priorities, though.


So today I made [personal profile] relia listen to some covers of the Leonard Cohen song "I'm Your Man," because I love covers and I particularly love Leonard Cohen covers for what the covering artist brings to the song; my friend Taylor said today that Jeff Buckley, for instance, sings like he's been shot in the gut and every song is his last breath. I couldn't agree more. But though "Hallelujah" covers deserve a lengthy post of their own, "I'm Your Man" is my favorite Cohen song and it's been covered less. Incidentally, I've never seen a soundtrack usage of this song that didn't suck: even the one in Secretary, and I love Secretary.

Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man
and if you want to strike me down in anger/here I stand

Definitely the best, of course -- I think a lot of first-time listeners have a hard time appreciating the depth and expressiveness of Cohen's voice, but his voice and music are what take his lyrics from good poetry to fantastic music in general. The original "I'm Your Man" sounds like a love song from an adult man, full of restraint and somberness; the instrumentation barely exists, enough to give the words a melody; it all has a formality that makes the passion in it glow underneath, only coming close to breaking in the "Ah, the moon's too bright" bridge.

Nick Cave - I'm Your Man
but a man never got a woman back/not by begging on his knees

Okay, but this one blew me away. Rel and I differed on first impression here, but to me the jangly, ugly, unsettling backing and Nick Cave's raw, gravelly voice combined for an amazing cover of this song that didn't fall into the mistake of "trying to do a Cohen song to sound like Cohen"; there's a raw disturbingness and violent sexuality to his cover that I think is really mesmerizing. YMMV, though, I admire Nick Cave's work in general but I wouldn't casually pop it in on a road trip.

Michael Buble - I'm Your Man
if you want a driver, climb inside/or if you want to take me for a ride

Full disclosure of bias: I hate Michael Buble. I dislike him enough that I'm being purposely too lazy to put the diacritic in his name, though I'll probably get neurotic later and go back to add it, damn me. Aside from his being a favorite with douches, it's not so much a personal problem with the man as his need to cover classic songs and turn them into big-band elevator music. I think it was an interesting choice for him to pick something as out of his genre as this song, though, and for that I have to give him props for an artistic risk; it turned out horribly, of course, as he can emote about as well as William Shatner, but at least it wasn't another bombastic doo-wop cover. He's terrible for this song because he can't infuse it with any kind of emotion, and it's worst during the bridge; however, I will give him his props, he is a hell of a lounge/nightclub-style performer and his live "Feelin' Good" proves it (thanks, Rel). "I'm Your Man" should not sound like "Fever," though -- and yet it does here, exactly.

Anyway, I think a mark of interesting music is when trying to discuss it in words feels clunky and unrepresentative.
prodigy: "Blondie" from Leone's Old West trilogy accompanied by Pikachu. (Default)
Why is it that queers in historical fiction and fantasy always seem to wind up sniveling, lecherous Depraved Homosexuals? Ah, I just answered my own question. I'm reading Anno Dracula at the moment; I'll save my thoughts for when I finish it, but I must sigh at this trope, so popular among heterosexual readers and writers who consider themselves liberal enough to make gay jokes, more or less. You could make a very slow text-based drinking game out of it. Drink for every time a queer man's sexuality in a historical novel is described as "a taste for boys." Drink for any scene where he fondles something underage and you're supposed to find it grotesque. Drink for interest in unwilling straight men. Drink for mincing, though do moderate your liquor intake, as alcohol poisoning can be deadly. Drink for gay brothels. Drink for equation of homosexuality and pedophilia in general. Chug if he meets a gruesome end. Raise your empty glass to the lesbian women never, ever mentioned. The whole affair makes a soul want to go back to the 19th century and then suck someone's dick good and hard, just to give this genre the middle finger.

Anyway, last night/this morning (we paused and resumed) we put on a recent Jane Eyre film adaptation, the one with Michael Fassbender. I am not going to try to review a Victorian Gothic novel from 1847, nor am I interested in getting into the general literary catfights regarding the Brontes and whether it's a sin against taste to be attracted to Edward Rochester or Heathcliff or Mr Darcy or nice guys or bad boys -- the internet is already clogged with people's arguments about that.

So on the subject of the Jane Eyre movie: it was alright, although sort of fell into the uncanny valley between being the over-the-top ridiculous Beauty and the Beast-ish tropey gothic darque rain-laden story it is and trying to be something more respectable. For example, it cast mousy Mia Wasikowska for Jane Eyre, but preposterously handsome ridiculously brooding Michael Fassbender for Edward Rochester. Inherently these people can't belong to the same story, and it strained suspension of disbelief. The film really should've cast some magnetic Mary Sue -- Keira or her like -- for Jane, then the stormy overblown atmosphere of it all would've been complete. Fassbender's charismatic, though, I was surprised to find that he was; he had to be to make Rochester anything resembling likeable. I mean, the man is dead handsome, there have been decency codes against the things I'd do to him, but he and his shark teeth are pretty well suited to being Byronic. I'll put him next to Gabriel Macht for "possible James Bonds."
prodigy: "Blondie" from Leone's Old West trilogy accompanied by Pikachu. (I used to live alone before I knew you)
Stolen from [personal profile] themis .   Bolded for read, italicized for started, underlined for meaning to read.

NPR's Top 100 SFF Books )

Off the top of my head, I would've narrowed the list a bit more to print SFF and stuff published within the genre (meaning I'd exclude the likes of Wicked, Outlander, and The Time Traveler's Wife even if I thought they deserved to be there, as well as Watchmen and Sandman, which are greats but not in this industry); while all media crosspollinates and they've all influenced one another, that's true of everything, you could make the same argument of film and fiction, but I'm pretty sure everyone agrees these lists would be impossible to make without any divisons.  Aside from that, like so many lists of this nature, this thing has an incredible newness bias -- Patrick Rothfuss, seriously?  George R.R. Martin?  Susanna Clarke?  If you're whapping up Jim Butcher, for God's sake, you might as well include J.K. Rowling for impactfulness -- this list really needs to decide what kind of list it is.

Otherwise, yesterday I went to the Jersey shore for the first time.  Today is the Pennsylvania Renfaire, not for the first time.  Inbetween I had a complicated dream about a LARP/IF game/virtual reality simulation that turned evil and trapped all the players in but none of the other players would believe it in time -- this was something I discovered in a level that was supposed to be about exorcizing a house haunted by an evil father, but turned out to be possessed by a tainted AI version of the Egyptian god Horus and was far above my level.  Then it poisoned all the food and turned all the meat raw.  It was the first dreaming simulation of biting into raw chicken I've ever had, I'd rather not repeat it.
prodigy: "Blondie" from Leone's Old West trilogy accompanied by Pikachu. (darcy - fuck a doodle do)
Birthday went well. Excepting the 4-5 drunkdials I made, which I guess you might consider as not going well if you consider I was missing all kinds of people's numbers from my semi-new phone. The good news is, though, that it wasn't actually a party, and my actual party is on the 14th, so that is plenty of time to get more people's numbers.

Thanks to Tumblr, I became totally obsessed today with Akinator, which is one of those 20-questions algorithms that uses users' answers to gather data and refine itself, so naturally I went crazy testing the damn thing. Here are some of the results:

Roy Mustang: 18 questions
Jonathan Strange: 19 questions
Scout: 23 questions
Locke Lamora: 25 questions
Dolores Haze: 18 questions
Maes Hughes: 18 questions
Hisoka Kurosaki: 32 questions (after first guessing "Pikachu")
Dr. Frank-N-Furter: 58 questions (after "Andy (Toy Story)," "Thomas Leroy (Black Swan)," and "is your character a sex maniac")
Sam Axe: 20 questions
Brienne of Tarth: 18 questions
Guybrush Threepwood: 27 questions (after "Qwop")
Mordecai Heller: Gave up (after "Niels," "Nostalgia Critic," "Spades Slick," "Jordan Chase")
The Master: 16 questions (winner!)
Maru: 24 questions


We first reported this rumored casting a few weeks ago, but now it is official: Gemma Whelan has been cast to play Yara Greyjoy in season two of Game of Thrones. Yara was named Asha in the books, but has had her name changed in the show so as not to confuses audiences with the character Osha.

Oh, sure, don't change Osha or anything, change POV character Asha Greyjoy instead. I mean, Yara Greyjoy. Yara. Yarrrrrrrra.

Meanwhile, they went and cast a black guy as Xaro Xhoan Daxos the Qartheen, because it's not like ethnicities or consistency matter if the characters are non-European, and this definitely could not bode ill considering GoT's track record with the Dothraki.
prodigy: "Blondie" from Leone's Old West trilogy accompanied by Pikachu. (stephen - o rly)
You know, normally Burn Notice coming back would be the main focus of my day, but Meet the Medic was coming out today and I hurt my back something fierce a few weeks ago, both of which kind of one-upped BN when it came to occupying my thoughts. As it turned out, we didn't even remember that today was when it was back until [personal profile] relia was browsing the TV schedule and found out 50 minutes before it was due to come on. Thank god for that, Rel? Then again, USA reruns everything, we would've caught it in short order one way or another.

My name is Michael Westen. I used to be a vague spoiler. )

Can we talk about the trope of using Latin American countries as playgrounds for spy shows and action movies? Nothing in this episode made me specifically uneasy, but the trope in general does -- I feel like aside from the idea that they are full of "jungle," IE undiscovered land where bad guys can put compounds and people can be stranded, film and TV directors assume that their viewers aren't going to have any factual accuracy alarms going off in their heads and they can treat the laws and infrastructure there with alarming impunity. Whereas in Miami viewers may go "wait, Miami doesn't work that way," who's to say whether Venezuela works that way? It's some far-off Spanish-speaking country! For all they know it works that way! So let's stick all the corruption and firefights in here we like! Haha -- ah, no.
prodigy: Text: >INVENTORY >You have: your brains, Fezzik's strength, Inigo's steel, a wheelbarrow, and a holocaust cloak. (>say my name is inigo montoya)
This was the GRRM-penned episode. It may be confirmation bias played a factor in my judgment, but I think it showed: everyone's dialogue seemed particularly on-point, especially the Tyrion-Bronn sections. Anyway, this is still the part of the book where stuff is heating up, so it was bound to be intense.

That being said, oh my God.

Spoiler Green is made of spoilers. )

Musing on that point, I think the Gratuitous HBOness isn't actually doing that any favors, though probably unintentionally. Contrary to semi-popular misconception, the A Song of Ice and Fire series did not come quite this HBO already: the adaptation's added a lot of random sex and violence, to say the least. This is all well and good when it's (the still WTF) Petyr Baelish monologuing to a pair of cavorting whores, but it makes the Dothraki portrayal look even more brutal and savage and lurid than it was in the books because we have to watch all their uncivilized-savage-person-violence as Dany does.

I'm not a fan of the HBO-ifying in general; it gives it a mood occasionally too close to HBO'S Rome, where you get dulled to the violence in the company of Antony and Atia eventually because you can't emotionally engage with it. In A Song of Ice and Fire, you're supposed to take all the violence dead seriously: it's a world where bad things happen to people, oftentimes for no reason, but commoners and foreigners and whores are not meant to be redshirts even if some of the POV characters think so. Adding too much more background violence makes it just seem like it's colored with blood and no one cares -- which undermines the context of various characters' classism, callousness, and self-centeredness, and misses the whole point of the intended social complexity in favor of a simplified bloody political sword-and-sorcery epic. It's good TV and good entertainment, but it's not the books.
prodigy: "Blondie" from Leone's Old West trilogy accompanied by Pikachu. (I used to live alone before I knew you)
 Or, this was funny and vindicating enough that I actually felt the need to crosslink it from my Tumblr.  No, seriously, I'm glad to see more people catching on to the problems with current Doctor Who plotting, because it makes me want to bang my head on my monitor when I see fans eagerly swallowing everything their new fannish idol writes because it's part of their damn fannish squee or some shit, please, not another Joss Whedon.  And my monitor is a fragile flatscreen, so don't make me do this thing.

Anyway, some person I don't know but reblogged anyway wrote this script-style parody that basically encapsulates everything that's wrong with series 5-6 plotting in Doctor Who through "what if Steven Moffat wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles": Sherlock Holmes and the Problem of "Day of the Moon."

WATSON: Are you going to wrap up this story, or are you going to go off and lark about Cardiff?



HOLMES: He’s a criminal; Criminals are evil. You’ve read my stories before, you know how this works.

WATSON: Yes - and that’s not how I remember it. Besides you haven’t even bothered to tell *why* John Clayton was driven to use a gigantic hound to terrorise our good friend Sir Henry Baskervile to death and/or off his estate.

HOLMES: Oh? Hmmm… something to do with being in turn swindled… possibly revenge. Maybe an illegitimate pregnancy. Or not. Or both. I dunno. Let’s go solve more mysteries!

WATSON: But can’t we finish wrapping up this one first? Why did he use a gigantic hound? Why did it appear to glow green? Who was that tramp from the Moor and why was he attacked by the hound? And what the hell have you got on your head?


prodigy: "Blondie" from Leone's Old West trilogy accompanied by Pikachu. (Default)
the late, or rather, later Henrik Egerman

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