Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 12:13 pm
In 2003, it felt like I was screaming into a void: it was obvious, even to me at the time, and I was still in high school, that the Iraq war was bogus profiteering, but the "grown ups" at the NYT and in the world at large were infuriatingly resistant to seeing that reality. There was a hopelessness: nobody was listening.

Now, in 2017, 2 months after the inauguration of the Orange Man, people are starting to listen, and I am strangling on my own rage. I'd thought it would have felt vindicating -- but instead, I don't know how to speak civilly with people who are only now, when it is too late, becoming interested in looking toward the truth.

The absence of HRC from the conversation is a hole, a wound. Vladimir Putin attempted to destroy our republic because he was afraid of her, and wanted to punish her, and apparently enough of us shared those feelings that they were able to take her down.
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Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 07:23 am
Well, for relative values of "popular", anyway.  At any rate, some observations on the new live-action iteration of Disney's Beauty & the Beast:

First and foremost, this is very much its own movie -- although it's spun from the same root, the fabric of this narrative is distinct from what you've seen in the animated version and/or stage production.  (I have seen the stage version -- specifically, the first national touring production, which inherited some of its cast from the original Broadway run.  I also own the Broadway cast album for the show, as well as a set of CDs including not just the animated soundtrack, but additional developmental material by Ashman and Menken.)

Think of it this way: the animated feature is essentially Belle's story -- she is the primary focus around whom everyone else orbits.  It's the closest of the three to a pure romance, and the one of the three that really acknowledges the passage of time as the central relationship develops (compare "Something There" in each version, and you'll see what I mean).  By contrast, in the stage version, it's Lumiere who's at the center of things -- it's his musical presence and status as nominal host that focuses the action, particularly in the second half of the show, driven in part by the expanded attention given to the Beast's houseful of transformed servants (notably in the long number surrounding "Human Again").

This shifts again in the live-action movie: this time, it's Gaston who's chief catalyst and motivator.  It's Gaston, much more of a direct threat much earlier on than we've previously seen, who propels Belle and Maurice into the events that lead them to the Beast's castle.  In this version, what happens to Maurice and to Belle is in significant part driven by Gaston's active antagonism, and likewise the Beast's actions are driven in part -- if less overtly -- by Gaston's influence.  This is an altogether nastier, darker, more knowingly Evil Gaston than he's been before, and the whole movie is colored by that difference.

Which is not to say that all is dark and grim and moody, because it's not.   "Be Our Guest" and the post-climax grand ball are still spectacular, the banter between Lumiere and Cogsworth is still delicious, and Kevin Kline injects some wonderfully dry wit into Maurice's character.  Indeed, this is a more character-driven film than either of its prior counterparts -- we get more back story for all of the principals, including additional songs for Maurice and the Beast (in fact, very little music is borrowed from the stage musical).  There is also some further context for the spell and its effects, with ramifications that are likely to generate a good deal of fanfic.

All in all, I liked the movie a great deal.  Ironically, the one area where it doesn't quite sparkle is the singing, which just can't quite compete with the iconic performances from the animated original (although the live version of "Gaston" comes close).  Don't get me wrong -- it's mostly very good, just not really at the level of either of its predecessors.
 

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 11:02 pm
Today's prompt is "a private party".
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Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 07:55 am
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Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 10:53 am
I gave three books to Cordelia’s English/social studies teacher today. Two of them are hardcover books on the Presidents of the U.S. up through Obama. The eighth graders study U.S. history, so those are likely to be useful to have. I also gave her a library bound copy of Journey to Topaz which is a novel about the Japanese internment during WWII from the point of view of an eleven year old girl. The author based it on her own experiences, so there’s a lot of solid details to make the book feel real to kids. The eighth grade curriculum has a focus on 'genocide literature' and includes the internment under that umbrella.

All three books were in extremely good condition.

I’ve given several books to the librarian for evaluation as to whether or not they’re useful for the collection. The two Dork Diaries books are pretty likely to end up in the collection. The three Miss Bianca books are iffier. They’re pretty pristine hardcovers (book club editions from around 1990, I think), but I’m not sure if kids these days are interested. It’s hard to tell. Pretty books are more likely to circulate, and these are.

Anybody reading this have a child or know one who might be interested in a Backyardigans CD? I’ve got a copy of Born to Play that I’ve just finished listening to to make sure it plays. It sounds fine all the way through.

I’ve been testing Cordelia’s old CDs and seeing whether or not I can get the scratches out of the ones that won’t play. I’m only willing to trying grinding the scratches off twice because the thing we have is manually operated and kind of tiring to use. (We tried an electronic one once. It didn’t work well, died fast, and Scott lost the instructions.) Those that don’t become playable after that are going into the trash.

We’ve got about twenty empty CD jewel cases. None of us have any idea where those CDs could have gone. They’re not in the basement. They’re not in Cordelia’s room. They’re not with my CD collection or in any of the carrying books we’ve got. I can’t imagine that that many CDs are really lurking under couches (I’ve checked) or got thrown out accidentally, so I assume there’s a cache of some sort somewhere in the house. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for about three years, however, and haven’t found them yet. I’m getting tired of keeping the jewel cases, though, as they take up a lot of room.

Would it be terrible to just throw out the CDs Scott’s parents have made and given us of inspirational sermons? None of us have ever listened to any of them, and I don’t expect we ever will. I don’t know. Maybe Scott’s sister’s SIL might know someone who would want them. She works for a church of the same denomination as the one Scott’s parents attend. I was wanting to email her anyway to find out if there’s a place I can donate those cotton rag socks.
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 09:46 am
Title: The Way It Was
Author: [personal profile] alisanne
Pairing/Characters: Severus Snape/Harry Potter (eventually).
Word Count: 100 x 6
Rating: PG
Challenge: Written for [community profile] snarry100/[insanejournal.com profile] snarry100/[livejournal.com profile] snarry100's prompt #568: Strong.
Warning(s): None. This is part three of what I'm calling my Wisdom Series (LJ/IJ/DW).
Beta(s): [personal profile] sevfan and [personal profile] emynn.
Disclaimer: The characters contained herein are not mine. No money is being made from this fiction, which is presented for entertainment purposes only.

The Way It Was )
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 09:23 am
Join us at [community profile] wipbigbang Sign up March 24-April 7 and Finish Your Sh**! This is a Big Bang with one goal in mind: to clean out your drafts folder. These are stories that were unfinished for whatever reason, that authors returned to and completed, and the art that goes with them! All fandoms welcome!




Last year I finished my Criminal Minds/Stargate crossover, The Genetics Factory.  Should I sign up again?  If so, which of my many WIPs should I work on?
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 01:46 pm
My parents have been to visit, which was nice, and short (possibly the two are related!). They brought us new living room lights (we saw the ones that we wanted in John Lewis, but they were out of stock when we went to order them online. A short panic that they were being discontinued later and my mother had bought them in her local store, as she was going there anyway. They are, of course, now back in stock online), which was good, and then put them up for us, which was better. They're much less fussy than the old ones, and removing the centre light from the ceiling fan / changing the blades on it has also made that look much better.

Just the floor to go, now, and it is finally booked for next week. We went for the middle ground, in the end, and are having laminate from the guy who did the third quote after the other two had annoyed me too much. I honestly couldn't have told you which of the sample books was wood and which laminate, so hopefully it's going to look nice! And then we need to buy some rugs. And new shelves for DVDs. But other than that it's nearly done....

In the less successful home improvement department, we were supposed to be having a new garage door today but the chap phoned first thing to say that his minion had called in sick. Hopefully that will get rescheduled in the not too distant future.

(My parents broke their journey home at Ebbsfleet, in the end, on account of not wanting to get up very early. It all worked ok.)

Following my failed attempt to listen to a bloody mp3 on my bloody phone, I bought the album (digitally, for £7, as the CD was £40!) and then remembered that I no longer have an optical drive in my laptop, so couldn't burn a CD to listen to in the car. In theory, I can use the drive in the desktop as an external drive, so we fiddled around trying to do that but, although I could see the drive, I couldn't see the blank CD that I put into it. (The next day, Mike messaged me from the office to ask why an untitled CD had appeared on *his* laptop. Sigh.) In the end, Mike bought me an external drive, so I spent an afternoon ripping and burning copies of all the CDs that have come into the house since I ceased to have a means of doing so: actually not that many, but it does take a while.

Yesterday, presumably to be blamed on one or other of the parents (although they claim not), I had some sort of odd twelve-hour lurgy: I woke up with a sore throat, got increasingly shivery as the morning went on, spent the afternoon wrapped in a blanket while each of my joints individually got more and more achy, developed weepy eyes and a splitting headache, didn't finish my dinner and felt a bit sick afterwards, felt a bit better by (early) bed time, and woke up this morning with a slight headache but otherwise feeling fine.

In between all that, I've mostly been playing The Last Guardian, which is exactly like the reviews say. It's very pretty, very Japanese, and very random. You are a small boy who is accompanied by a giant cat-bird, over which you have very limited control, while you wander around a mysterious and largely abandoned complex of towers and dungeons. The controls are utterly terrible, and this is a sadly common conversation in the house these days:
Flick: [repeats $keystrokes over and over for five minutes in an attempt to make the cat-bird do a $thing]
Flick: Can you see what I'm doing wrong here? I think that I need to get cat-bird to do $thing but he's not doing it.
Mike: It does look like that's what you need to do. Do you want me to look it up?
Flick: Please.
Flick: [continues to repeat $keystrokes, throughout the conversation]
Mike: It says you need to do get cat-bird to do $thing.
Flick: That's what I'm trying to do.
Mike: You need to hit $keystrokes.
Flick: That's what I'm doing. That's what I've been doing for ten minutes. This game has the worst controls ever.
Cat-bird: [for no obvious reason suddenly does $thing]

I have no objection to tricky puzzles, but these aren't, they're just capricious. Or, possibly, the cat-bird is capricious. Either way, it's a bit tedious. Very pretty game, though.
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 07:02 am
Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.


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Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 11:35 pm
Gaming sessions have returned back to normal with the return of Andrew D., from his Malaysia and UK holiday. Sunday was the regular session of Eclipse Phase. As is often the case, the first session sets the scene and this time it included the hatching of an Iktomi egg and contact by The Factors in Uranus. Wednesday was a session of Laundry Files which continued the explosive problem of a person in China being a nexus point between this world and fire vampires. Apropos have still be working on Papers & Paychecks with positive responses to the draft, perhaps the best being from NinjaDan, "this is looking like a real RPG sourcebook". Well, yes, that's the plan of course.

In other news items, there have been several mainstream news articles advocating land tax, following investigation by the Parliamentary Budget Office, as the Australian property market is in a bubble, with the proposed replacement of stamp duty with a broad land tax a fundamental and sensible policy. In related news there has several new 'blog posts on the Isocracy Network site, as well as a new article by Joe Toscano, The Four Horsemen of the 21st Century Apocalypse.

Finally, this afternoon gave a guest lecture at the University of Melbourne, for the course COMP90024 Cluster and Cloud Computing, on The Spartan HPC System at the University of Melbourne. Lectures like these are a tough gig; the four to six hour workshops and tutorials are at a slower pace with more direct involvement with the smaller number of participants. This is a much larger lecture, around two hundred postgraduate students, and with a lecture slot that lasts well over an hour there is a need to pack in as much information as possible. I am still not used to what I much presume is a millennial norm of applauding lecturers a the end of the class. This is normal now, right?
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 11:57 am
My thoughts are with everyone around the world who have recently lost loved ones from any cause but especially the many unnecessary deaths that happen every day.

Latest news of the injured and dead from the terrorist attack in central London: twelve Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, two Greeks, and one person each from Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy, and the United States. Three police officers were also hurt, two of them seriously.

London remains one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, currently with a democratically elected English Muslim mayor, and that's why extremists who believe human beings should be segregated by religion, or "racial" appearance, or place of origin, hate London and target Londoners (whether they're residents or visitors). The same is true of Birmingham.

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 10:57 am
Happy birthday, [personal profile] robot_mel!
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 05:24 am

"Let me be clear: nationalism and patriotism are not the same thing. It's vital we differentiate between the two." -- Kamala Harris, 2017-02-17

"Man if only they taught this in high school wait I think they teach in high school It's the WWI unit" -- Bryant Francis, (reply)

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 08:58 am
The Guardian: Donald Trump Jr called 'a disgrace' for tweet goading London mayor Sadiq Khan

Yup, he decided to use the attack on Parliament as an excuse to insult (and misrepresent) the Mayor of London while the incident was still live.

Everyone at Westminster was still in lockdown and trapped in the chamber or their offices while he was Tweeting.

I can't think why he thought London's British-Pakistani Muslim mayor was an appropriate target at a time like this, except that that's a lie, I totally can, because it's really fucking obvious.

Also, the risk of terror attacks is an inevitable part of living in a big city (and I am more than old enough to remember when it was the IRA).
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 04:32 am

Working With God

 
Today's MP3

It’s a wonderful day indeed when we stop working for God and begin working with God! For years I viewed God as a compassionate CEO and my role as his loyal sales representative. He had his office and I had my territory. I could contact him whenever I wished. He encouraged me, rallied behind me, and supported me, but he didn’t go with me. At least I didn’t think he did.

Then I read 2 Corinthians 6:1 that says, “We are God’s fellow-workers.” Fellow workers? Co-laborers? God and I work together? Rather than report to God, we work with God. Rather than check in with him and then leave, we check in with him and then follow. We are always in the presence of God. There is never a nonsacred moment! His presence never diminishes. Our awareness of his presence may falter, but the reality of his presence never changes!

From Just Like Jesus