The Umbrella Academy (Spoilers)

Apr. 23rd, 2019 03:16 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

I finally got around to watching The Umbrella Academy on Netflix, after hearing lots of mostly-positive comments and reviews. Naturally, I must now share ALL OF MY OWN COMMENTS AND REVIEWS. Such is the nature of the internet…

I mostly enjoyed it, though the ending felt empty and unsatisfying.

Details behind the spoiler cut…

Read the rest of this entry » )

The Goblin Emperor e-book deal

Apr. 20th, 2019 10:09 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Tor is running a promotion where The Goblin Emperor e-book is $1.99. (Even though Macmillan's site still says $8.99, all the links have the right price.) Obviously this is a golden opportunity. :)

Cool Stuff Friday

Apr. 19th, 2019 09:55 am

Smart people saying smart things (II)

Apr. 17th, 2019 04:32 pm
swan_tower: (summer)
[personal profile] swan_tower

This interview is fascinating to me because I know basically nothing about cinematography, except insofar as it’s related to photography. So I love it when somebody gets down into the nitty-gritty details about how decisions regarding lenses and focus contribute to inequality, e.g. the fact that women on average speak about 25% of the time in a film + cinematographic technique that puts only the speaker in a shot in focus = not only are the women on screen silent more often than not, but they’re probably blurry as well. Backlighting, specific camera angles — she compares it all to the practice of airbrushing magazine covers, only there isn’t the same degree of public awareness that this stuff is being used to erase women’s flaws and present a constantly-idealized image. Plus lots of interesting discussion on how the relationship between a director and a director of photography differs between movies and TV, male directors and the YA film genre, etc.

On the deep and poisonous stream of anti-Semitism that runs through far too much of white evangelical Christianity. Key quote:

And it doesn’t really matter which “theory” a conspiracist starts with — Moon-landing hoaxers, anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, young-earthers, chemtrails, fluoridation, Planned Parenthood, Antichrist OWG, blue helmets, black helicopters, whatever — the belief that the Key to Everything is “the startling news that the media isn’t reporting!” always leads, ultimately, to anti-Semitism.

This got me reflecting on my own childhood. My elementary school had a large Jewish contingent; I’m not sure how many, but my mother estimates somewhere between a quarter and a third of my class. It got watered down as we fed into junior high and high school, joining other elementary school catchment areas, but overall, they were almost certainly the largest minority in my area. Large enough that Jewish kids didn’t stand out as unusual to me — at least, not until those two years where they were all going through their Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations and I learned that being Jewish meant you got a special birthday party. (I probably went to more parties in junior high than any other period of my life.)

But at the same time, we were also in the neighborhood of this church. (In opening that page, I note that a section which used to detail a sexual abuse scandal within the church’s leadership has been removed. A scandal which, for all I know, could have involved kids in my class or my brother’s — the timing was right.) I don’t know how much of that anti-Semitic ideology is present there, or was thirty years ago. But it makes me wonder how much, despite the large presence and general acceptance of Jewish families in our neighborhood, there were still incidents that happened out of my sight or flew over my head. I know the guy I went to prom with gave me the first Left Behind novel to read; I didn’t get more than about ten pages into it because the writing was so execrable, but later I learned that boy howdy are those books anti-Semitic. And there were enough Baptist and evangelical Christians around that I have to imagine some of that was an issue in my community.

Short of randomly calling up my Jewish friends from sixth grade and asking them whether they got shit from our fellow students, I’ll never know. But it’s a sobering thing to consider.

Another Personal/Family Update

Apr. 17th, 2019 11:19 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

We have a slightly more concrete plan for the coming weeks, with the understanding that plans can change from day to day based on test results, scheduling issues, the whims of the insurance companies, and more.

Amy’s currently going through her third round of R-EPOCH chemotherapy (her fifth or sixth total round of chemo, depending on how you count them.) The goal is to do one more round the first full week in May, then do another CT scan. If she looks cancer-free at that time, we’ll move on to the bone marrow transplant step.

I got choked up the first time the phrase “cancer-free” came up. There’s so much hope and fear wrapped up in those two words, and in the results of that scan a month or so from now. We know she’s responded well to treatment so far, but there’s so much unknown…

We got to spend some good family time together for my birthday weekend, which was nice. I ate way too much, which was also nice 🙂

I’d like to believe the end is in sight, and we’re starting to move toward the next steps of her recovery and rebuilding our new normal. The whole family is pretty damn tired of cancer and chemo and all the rest. This crap gets old pretty quick.

We learned something exciting this week, though. Amy’s been using an infusion pump that delivers her chemo cocktail over the course of 3-4 days. But the tubing has sprung a leak at least three different times, all in the same spot. It looks like the chemotherapy meds are actually eating through the air filter in the line. These are the chemicals they’re pumping into my wife’s body…

Well, if they eat through filters, hopefully they’ll gobble up cancer cells even better.

Even now, this can happen

Apr. 15th, 2019 01:48 pm
swan_tower: (summer)
[personal profile] swan_tower

The burning of Notre Dame is breaking my heart.

I’ve read a lot of history. I could fill a whole post with nothing but a list of beautiful, significant buildings lost to fire. It’s happened before, many times, for thousands of years, all around the world. But it’s easy to fall into thinking that it can’t happen now. That sure, ordinary buildings may burn, because we can’t protect everything perfectly — but surely, with all our technology, we can keep the important places safe. The ones that matter not just to a few people, or a few hundred, or a few thousand, but millions upon millions.

But we can’t. Disasters still happen. We are not the unchallenged masters of our physical environment; things can still go wrong.

This one hits particularly hard for two reasons. One is that I was just there: when my husband and I visited Paris in 2013 the towers were closed for repairs, but after Imaginales last May I spent a few days there and got to climb up to meet the gargoyles. I haven’t been able to make myself look at many pictures, much less video, but even a glance was enough to give me that punch of I stood there. Right where it’s burning — I was there.

The other is more distant in some ways, but even closer in others. In 1666 the Great Fire of London burned, among other things, St. Paul’s Cathedral. Like Notre Dame, it was under repair at the time; the scaffolding surrounding it gave the spreading fire an easy foothold. That was 450 years ago, of course — but I researched it for In Ashes Lie, and then I wrote about it, immersing myself in that moment of terrible destruction. When I heard the spire of Notre Dame had collapsed . . . the spire of St. Paul’s had been gone for a century, thanks to a lightning strike, but the tower was still there when the Great Fire began. When it fell, it broke through the floor into a subterranean chapel where the booksellers of London had stored their wares for safekeeping. That image lives in my mind still. Notre Dame hits right where it already hurts, where a part of me has been grieving for a building I never saw.

I can’t follow the news right now. I’ll look when it’s over, when we know exactly how bad the damage is. I presume the cathedral will be rebuilt — and I know, because I read history, that this is part of how history works. That our world is a palimpsest, things erased and rewritten and revised and layered atop one another. The St. Paul’s Cathedral that stands now in London isn’t the building that burned in 1666, but it contains some pieces of it, and the cathedrals that went before (more than one) are all part of the story of that place.

But knowing that scar tissue will eventually become part of the beauty doesn’t make it hurt any less right now.

One good thing, one bad thing

Apr. 15th, 2019 04:09 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
[personal profile] feuervogel
Good: I passed my thesis defense!

Bad: I had to put my cat to sleep at 2 am.

Help found the Dream Foundry!

Apr. 11th, 2019 02:01 pm
swan_tower: (*writing)
[personal profile] swan_tower

Some of you may have heard about the Dream Foundry, an organization that aims to provide support and encouragement for new professionals in science fiction and fantasy writing and art. I’m a part of the group, and our project just got rolling in the last year or so (you may have heard some of us talking about it at Worldcon in San Jose); now it’s running its very first Kickstarter! There’s a five-year-plan for getting the entire enterprise up and running, and the purpose of the Kickstarter is to fund the first year of weekly articles and a discussion series. If it meets that goal — which is only $2000, and since we’ve already got $1766, the odds look good — then further funds will be used to extend that funding, recoup startup costs, expand our web presence, pay staff (all of whom are currently unpaid volunteers), and even provide the money to start up a contest for new writers and artists, with a substantial cash award and free workshop for finalists.

There’s an added twist here, which is that the Dream Foundry’s financial people have plans to apply for various grants and such — but in the perverse way of such things, it’s easier to get a grant if you can show a track record of other funding and results. So the more the Kickstarter can raise to get the Dream Foundry going, the better our odds become of keeping it going in the long run.

I got involved because my own career got started with an award and the monetary prize from that, and I’d love to see another such project aimed at people who are new to the field. The people behind the Dream Foundry are astonishingly well-organized, so I have every faith that with support, this can become not just a real thing but an amazing one. Back the Kickstarter now to help make that happen!

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