neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Default)
( Aug. 17th, 2015 05:18 pm)
I spent Saturday with fabrisse, watching SGU commentaries and extras, and making notecards for two different plotbunnies (seriously, writing plot beats and clever bits of dialogue on index cards because my process is completely bats at the moment). The "Dr. Daniel Jackson Explains X" extras were particularly hilarious, in how dead-perfect they are to awkward, low-budget corporate training videos. I also wanted her perspective because she's from a military family, and would be able to help me figure out some things that I wasn't getting about the SGU military characters -- like what exactly James' rank and actual branch-of-service is (we're really dubious that she's AF, not Marines, for a number of reasons. She is a 2nd lieutenant though, because we finally got a good look at her rank insignia).

She reacted really strongly to kino recording where Greer and Scott talk about Scott leaving Greer behind on the planet of the spider maze. Basically, her problem was that if the writers can get Greer (as experienced master sergeant) giving such good advice and counsel to Scott (inexperienced 1st lieutenant), then why is Col. Young written as such a terrible commander? Since the writers got that right, Young must be deliberately written the way he is... and often he's not making good decision, and certainly not great or clearly ethical ones.

I really struggle with that, because I do think Young is a mess and a half, but I don't want to make him the villain (because the show isn't about villainy, it's about people in an inescapable, dysfunctional scenario trying to survive) in any plotbunny I write, and I want to give him as much credit for his good characteristics as possible. And of course, since his main foil in the show is Dr. Rush, who I think usually does have the good of ship and the success of the mission in mind, but who behaves in ways that make me facepalm on a regular basis, I don't want to unbalance the dynamic or woobify anyone (Rush would fucking bite if you tried to woobify him).

And I've been thinking about the Nakai, and what they might have wanted. Because seriously, they take Chloe, have her for about 6 hours, and have the time to implant advanced mathematics in her brain and some sort of progressive mutagen in her body, but they have Rush for at least a week and don't do anything to him other than put a tracking beacon in his chest and extract English from his brain? I am extremely dubious of that, and my doubt is germinating into a plotbunny of some description.
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Tomorrow is the first day of the Bugs Bunny shorts festival at the AFI -- 11:30 am -- and then the Lego Brickumentary at 1:05 pm.

Also, MR. HOLMES, the Sherlock Holmes movie with Ian McKellen in title role is playing this week at the AFI.

Please let me know if you'd like to meet up for any of these movies.
Wow, this episode has Stargate Command being extremely shady (and actually kind of colonialist?) in regards to the Langarans, who are refusing SGC permission to use their stargate to dial Destiny. Given that the last two times that Destiny was dialed, the planet the stargate was on exploded I think the Langarans' caution is absolutely the right thing to do. Especially because this seems to be their home planet, not an outpost like Icarus or the Lucian Alliance planet.

I'm kind of surprised that Col. Telford has the clout to force a mission that could cause this big of a diplomatic incident -- by which I mean the worse case failure scenario is that the Langarans decide that they're better off as allies to the Lucian Alliance than to Earth. Given that Wolsey is in on this, you'd think the diplomatic corps would be having a fit over this -- there's spycraft, and there's creating a causus belli that will turn your allies against you.

Given that that side of the episode is about hijacking the bodies of Langaran administrators and military officers, were any of the SGC people actually surprised that the Langarans responded with 'we will shoot you even though you're wearing the bodies of our friends'? If so, why? I mean, that's what SGC did when Go'auld took over their people, why did they think the Langarans would act any differently?

What was so wrong with letting the diplomats keep negotiating and maybe get the intelligence services operating on-planet. Are we really supposed to think the Defense Intelligence Agency wouldn't have off-world missions the minute Stargate Command became a thing? Really?

On the flip side, the plot with Rush and Amanda Perry was just heartbreaking. I mean, Rush takes a day off to go into a VR simulation, have sex with his incorporeal girlfriend, and wander around the ship barefoot in clean clothes (and I noticed she gave him his watch and fancy ring back that he lost to the Nakai aliens, but not his wedding ring ). That was such a modest fantasy that I can't even... and it turns out so badly. I wanted to shake Mandy for telling Rush that he didn't love her, especially when he's lowered his defenses so much for her. I'm pretty sure that asking a computer program to define and quantify love is asking for disaster, which is what she got.

When he gets stuck in the simulation, she deceives him and shuts Ginn down -- the best case I can think is that she panicked, but I have the terrible suspicion that if she hadn't slipped up and kissed his cheek so that he could feel her, she'd have let him think he'd gotten out of the simulation until being in the chair killed his body. And then she'd still have him, as he'd have remained uploaded to Destiny's computer core. I really think she didn't know how to handle being in love (Rush seems to be the one love interest in her life, so much inexperience) along and being turned into a disembodied consciousness inside the ship's computer. Rush, on the other hand, knows how being in love and being a partner works because he was married; it's a sad day where Nicholas Rush is the more mature, emotionally dependable human being out of any pair.

I felt sorry for Eli and Ginn, because they were the responsible ones in that plot. They had decided that a romantic, nonsexual relationship was something they could and would live with, but because Rush and Mandy decided to play VR games, and Mandy didn't think that maybe no two people experience romantic love the same way and a computer certainly can't quantify it anyway, Eli and Ginn suffered. No wonder Eli is pissed at Rush at the end of the episode.
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So, I picked up both seasons of Stargate Universe recently because together the DVDs are about $18 on Amazon, and I just finished watching the first season yesterday.

I rather like it. The premise states that they have limited supplies and wardrobe, and they keep to it. No convenient replacement clothes or gear available, so the characters worry about starvation, complain about rations, go foraging when necessary. wear the same clothes all the time, and occasionally lose things for good (Rush's watch and wedding ring, Chloe's clothes, when they're both taken by the Nakai). It a not-so-cozy post-apocalypse scenario, and I actually love those.

Omg, though, Rush has the worst social intelligence of a functioning, presumably neurotypical adult I've ever seen depicted on tv. He seems to have no insight into why falsifying an Icarus planet in the database is a bad idea even when he's being berated for doing it -- yes, it would give the crew hope, until they figured out it was faked and lynched him; he's got weird reactions to violence too -- fists to his own head he shrugs off, torture gets him lying and playing for time, but threatening or harming other people in front of can cow him (sometimes). He's also dysfunctionally unable to trust people, either to know their limits or do what he doesn't have time to accomplish -- which is probably why he compulsively overworks himself. Unfortunately, he's also blindingly intelligent with an encompassing knowledge of how Ancient technology works, to the point that the Destiny crew can't do without him, no matter how crazy he gets (and with the AI messing with his head, often with his willing participation, he gets fairly loopy). He was incredibly sweet with Amanda Perry, and how much did I love that they were friends first and that they made the adult choice to back away from romance because the situation was just too weird? I loved it a lot (I hope S2 allows me to keep liking their interactions).

Brody, Volker, and Park, who make up the rest of the science team, are actually really nicely realized for what are secondary characters. Brody is level-headed and sensible, but enough of a rule-bender that he builds and operates a still; I think he'd be best head of the science team actually, since he is a lot more even-keeled than Rush, and much, much better at people. Poor Volker is actually a good astrophysicist; he's just asked to work alongside people like Rush and Eli, and it's hard to shine when you're a torch next to two bonfires. And I love Park, who deals with the stress of being on Destiny by having sex with fit young airmen, and isn't going to be sorry or ashamed of that -- though I do wonder about contraception on board; I also liked that she's willing to tell people not to yell at her when she's trying to get work done in a crisis and push back (verbally) against unreasonable demands.

For the civilians, Camile Wray is interesting in that she's a career bureaucrat still trying to do her job in a crazy situation, and her relationship with her wife is pretty awesome. Chloe is growing on me, as she tries to figure out what she can contribute -- a Harvard poli-sci degree not terribly applicable to the problems of an near-derelict, minimally controlled spaceship traveling through the galaxies on an unknown mission. The fact that she actually called Eli out on being disappointed she thinks of him as a friend, and that Eli actually listened to her... well, it's very rare that male-female friendships are both reinforced as platonic *and* as not second best to a romance. Eli himself is fun because he's effortlessly brilliant, distractable, a bit flaky, believably nerdy (I love his continuing efforts as a documentarian), and torn between the science team and the military and really unhappy that he can't make the two sides cooperate.

Of the military characters, I definitely like Young and Greer, Scott seems level-headed if bland to me personally, and TJ and Vanessa James need more love. Young gives me the impression that he's coping with this as best he can, but that he's deeply, emotionally tired, and sometime gets stuck in depressive ruts. Also, he's trying his best to work the science team and the rest of the civilians, but the science team are terrible about explaining anything to him (and he can't be dumb, I'm pretty sure the US Air Force requires degrees from its officers, preferably applied or military sciences). He's accidentally captaining a crew that would rather not be there, and its not like he can let them off the boat without losing vital skills that they will need later.

Sergeant Greer is a wonderful professional with just enough snap to him that he acts independently when he has to, and can tolerate the antics of the science team, who are headless chickens half the time, and a pack of velociraptors running down prey the other half, with no warning when they're going to switch from ridiculous, unfocused bickering to focused effort that by the way terrorizes surrounding innocents. TJ is another professional, who has to be frustrated at being the only qualified medic on board. I really love how sensible she is, and how little she is willing to argue about her personal decisions; she's made them, she's going to follow through. Vanessa James is professional but also very lonely; I suspect it's extremely hard for her to date on Destiny, as a female officer who has to maintain the respect of her subordinates and maintain good relations with the civilian half of the crew, any relationship she even contemplates has to be evaluated for how it will reflect on her. Also, I can't get a bead on Telford (hello, Lou Diamond Phillips, I'm probably going to wind up watching Longmire now that I remember how pretty I find you), which makes sense given that he was brainwashed for all of the first season and thus might not actually be as much of an asshole as he appears; he might actually be more moral than Young, when he's not being mind-controlled into treachery.

I also like the minor military characters -- Airman Becker, who runs the mess and even back on Icarus was trying to make sure Rush ate (had a dinner already boxed up for him, like it was a regular occurrence) and must be extremely frustrated at the limited and disgusting rations he has available to serve people; Airman Dunning, who seems to get a lot of the 'we need a military body here' long camera shots and whom I can reasonably assumed fought Go'auld, based on his freak-out about 'snakes under my skin' in the episode "Pain"; and Sergeant Riley, who is the nice competent technical officer who does all the stuff that needs to be done in the background and runs the stargate, like Sergeant Harriman from SG-1 or Chuck the Technician from SGA.

Basically, I'm saying that I'm having more fun watching this than I expected; there hasn't been anything super-crazy like SG1 or SGA got up to, though I hear that eventually one characters starts turning into alien.
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On Monday I went out with [livejournal.com profile] fabrisse to see the National Theater Live filmed production of Tom Stoppard's The Hard Problem, as she had a spare ticket. It was quite an excellent play, which deals scientific ambition, financial trading, unreciprocated sexual attraction, scientific integrity, and adoption from the viewpoint of the birth mother. The hard problem of the title is the question of consciousness, which is currently one of the thorniest problems in science, since we really don't know enough about the brain to know anything other than "we don't how to ask that yet".

Yesterday, I went with [personal profile] greenygal and [personal profile] pleasance to see the filmed version of Julie Taymor's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the AFI. It was amazing. Given that it was Taymor, the costume design was fantastic, including use of fiber-optic lights in Titania's costuming, body paint -- Oberon's was either blue-black or blued steel, with glitter and gold accents -- and a donkey mask with hand-operated mouth movement for Bottom. The fairies entered and left through the ceiling and floor, and the entire cast made fantastic use of all the stage space, including catwalks above the audience. Max Casella as Bottom was hilarious, Mandi Mansen as Helena made me really feel for her when she was accusing Hermia, Demetrius and Lysander of mocking her, Demetrius and Lysander were hilarious when they kept getting in slap-fights and competive stripping over Helena (because it's not Midsummer if all four of the young lovers don't end up in their underwear), Kathryn Hunter as Puck was apparently made of rubber, I would love to see David Harewood (who played the Prince of Morocco in the 2004 film of The Merchant of Venice -- Portia should have run off with him, he was so damned charming) and Tina Benko as Oberon and Titania live, and Zachary Infante was surprisingly touching as Flute playing Thisbe.
The AFI is playing Julie Taymor's version of A Midsummer's Night's Dream at the AFI tomorrow through Thursday. However, the only night performances are tomorrow and Wednesday. I've got plans for tomorrow, but I'd love to go see this with other people.

It's $15 for the movie, starting at 7 pm.

Also, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is playing in 3D on Saturday at 3:30pm. I'd love to see that with friends.
neotoma: "Squee!" goes the bunny (SqueeBunny)
( Jun. 21st, 2015 08:36 am)
I went to see Tomorrowland with [livejournal.com profile] fabrisse yesterday.

Why did noone tell me there is a steampunk rocketship with a Babbage engine controller in this movie? That set-peice alone is worth the price of admission! And when Keegan Michael-Key showed up and announced his name was Hugo Gernsback I almost sporfled. Frank getting rambling off on a tangent about how Tesla and Edison hated each other while our heroes are on the run from killer robots was also a delight.

Also, passes the Bechdel test with flying colors, is about hope and science, and was just fun to watch. And Raffey Cassidy is an actor to watch out for -- I hope she continues to get amazing roles, because her Athena was fantastic.
neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Default)
( May. 15th, 2015 06:10 pm)
So, my computer basically ground itself to death on Tuesday. I took it to the local MicroCenter, where I had originally bought it, to see if it could be repaired but the cost of repair estimates were high enough that it was basically the same price to buy a refurbished computer from stock and proceed from there.

I also bought an enclosure and pulled my old computer's hard drive, rather than pay the data transfer fee -- $20 vs $70.

Sadly, the best computer for my money was a Windows 8 machine, which has a terrible interface that is so frustrating that I wanted to smash the screen within 30 minutes of trying to navigate it. Fortunately, you can find freeware skins to emulate the Windows 7 layout, which I did immediately after installing Chrome and Firefox.

So I have a new computer and another couple of hundred dollars in debt, but I'm not trying to search job postings from my Kindle. So that's good.
Looney Labs is hosting an International Table Top Games Day from 1pm to 5pm tomorrow in Eastern Market.

It sounds like a fun outing. Anyone interested?
Pink lady apples, probiotic raspberry yogurt smoothie, cream, cubalaya eggs (peewee sized, so small batch baking!), pastrami from Urban Butcher (oh nom nom nom!), onion, a head of hydroponic lettuce that I immediately stuck in a pot of dirt, and a six-pot of johnny-jump-ups for [profile] hollimichelle's front flowerbed.
The Power of Chocolate is a special event at the National Museum of the American Indian this weekend... who wants to meet me tomorrow to attend? With or without a possible side trip to Cherry Blossom Festival. There's definitely going to be a trunk show of vintage Japanese garments at the Sackler, among other things...
So next Saturday is Pi Day -- 3/14/15 -- so I'd like to do something to celebrate.

Either I make some pies -- apple, sweet potato, chicken plum pot pie? -- and host a boardgame night, or go to a pizzeria - I was thinking District of Pi -- and have a dinner with friends.

What would you prefer?
It is predicted to get below zero tonight -- 0°F, which I believe is -18°C -- and the management office at my apartment distributed flyers reminding everyone to keep their thermostats set to 68°F at a minimum and turn the faucets on to a trickle tonight to keep the water pipes from freezing.

I'm contemplating sleeping in the living room tonight, because my bed is right up against an outside wall, and my heater has not been able to keep up -- it's been running almost constantly today and the temperature in my place is about 65°F.
neotoma: Elrond (cool blue ocean) (Elrond (cool blue ocean))
( Feb. 18th, 2015 01:53 pm)
So, just before lunchtime today, I got called into a meeting. When I saw that the HR director was there, I know instantly what was up. Ever since we lost one of our contracts I was expecting them to lay people off, and was looking for other positions inside the company, but no bites.

I've got 6 weeks of severance coming, as soon as I sign the paperwork. I'll start looking for a new job tomorrow, since I'm on the "don't come in, but we'll pay you like your working for the next two weeks" plan. I'll also have to sort out my medical insurance, which will be 'fun'.
I've created a page for Jo Walton's The Just City at TV tropes. Anyone who has read the book want to add to it?

If you haven't read The Just City yet, it's a pretty awesome book -- Athena with the help of 300 adults from across human history, tries to create The Just City from Plato's The Republic on Thera, before the explosion. It goes about as well as you might imagine, given 300 idealists from many different eras, whose only commonality is that they've read Plato in the original Greek and prayed to Athena to let them create the Just City.
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neotoma: Elrond (cool blue ocean) (Elrond (cool blue ocean))
( Feb. 11th, 2015 06:21 pm)
Someone threw half my mint pants, my primrose, all of my smaller strawberries, and my smaller shadbush into the trash and recycling bins today. I managed to rescue a bunch of them, but I'm pretty pissed off.

I'm really afraid it was the groundskeeping staff at my apartment, who have been around pruning (badly) and I generally haven't trusted since they planted rows of boxwoods all over.

So now I have to decide whether it is worth complaining to the housing office, or whether they'll say it's my fault for leaving my outside plants outside over winter.
Cameo and Jonathon apples -- the Cameos are huge, for cobbler, and the Jonathons are small, for lunch -- onion, turnips, an espresso chocolate cookie, and a 4.5lb stewing chicken, with its feet still on, that will be made into stock overnight and then into chicken and dumplings.

Also picked up seed at the hardware store: bluebonnet, bambini viola, foxglove, snap pea, fava bean, radicchio, artichoke, and cardoon. If I plant the artichokes this weekend, I can vernalize them next month and get a harvest this year. Also found out that Baker Creek has Truly Tiny Bananas among its live plant offerings, and am really tempted to get a pair, as they'd be extremely fun to grow, not to mention tasty.
[personal profile] greenygal just informed me that the Lego Research Insitute set is back!

This is the set with three female scientist minifigs -- the chemist has a small laboratory with beakers and syringes, the astronomer has a star chart and telescope, and the paleontologist has a magnifying glass, microscope, and dinosaur skeleton! It's been sold out and unavailable for months! I've just ordered a set for myself and another for my nephews!
[personal profile] greenygal and I went to see The Wizard of Oz on Saturday, as it was playing at the local arthouse cinema. It was a lot of fun to see it on the big screen -- there's a lot of detail that only shows up well that way. I did come up with the alternate characterization that Glinda is manipulating Dorothy into knocking out rival witches -- it's the only explanation that makes sense to me for why she didn't tell Dorothy how to get home at the beginning, and why she magicked the ruby slippers onto Dorothy's feet too. I was also struck by just how many geeky references come from Oz directly.

After the movie and lunch out, we went back to my place and watched Over the Garden Wall. If you haven't seen it, it was a miniseries that the Cartoon Network ran the first week of November, and it's gorgeous. Also, cute, surreal, and deeply eerie.

It starts off with two brothers, one a teenager, one a younger boy, lost in the woods and trying to get home, and unfolds from there. It takes about 40 minutes for the plot to get rolling beyond 'surreal and cute', but then it's amazing![personal profile] greenygal as a little upset that I'd only told her it was cute, but I didn't want to spoil the story. Among other things, the original music is fantastic, and they got opera singer Samuel Ramey do to the voice of the villain. Elijah Wood plays the older brother, with Christopher Lloyd, John Cleese, Tim Curry, Shirley Jones, Chris Isaak, among other voices you might recognize. It's available on Amazon and iTunes for about $10, at least in the USA.

I did have one theory about the show which I haven't seen anyone else come up with I think that spoiler ) Of course, that's just speculation.
neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Default)
( Oct. 26th, 2014 10:33 am)
I've decided that I'm not going to participate in Yuletide this year, despite nominating fandoms, because I simply don't have the energy to be sure I'd be ble write even a thousand words. Which is really not happy making.
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