Thankful Thursday

Feb. 14th, 2019 06:05 pm
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Today I am grateful for

  • My family.
  • Our cats, with extra thanks to Desti for letting me type with her on my lap.
  • Fifteen years of Opportunity, and a lot of good memorials.
  • Warmer weather and mostly-clear roads.
  • Finding something that looks very much like a profitable writing gig.

Pentagonal Signal Boosts of Joy

Feb. 13th, 2019 06:57 pm
jesse_the_k: Finding Nemo's Dory, the adventurous fish with a brain injury (dain bramage)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

I’ve spent the last two days trying to catch up my reading list. Not yet successful, but I sure have enjoyed the journey. So I'll share:

hours of enjoyment )

Unicorn chaser is the marvelous ThreadReaderApp, which makes a Twitter thread into a single webpage. I was happy to throw a little money their way, and they create PDFs for me to download.

some miscellaneous prose & thoughts

Feb. 12th, 2019 10:05 am
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
On what helps some people decide to attend social gatherings.

On the Short Trek The Escape Artist.

On noticing that I'm trying to read inaccessible fiction.

"Random" (as in the modern slangy sense, e.g., "the Mountain Goats are making an album about D&D? That's random") means: unexpected in a way that I disapprove of, unjustified, and I resent having to make room for this unexpected thing; where do I even file this?!.

The coverage of celebrities (especially actors) and sports that I run into is usually a way into telling stories about labor and power.

Arrested Development loved showing us how its characters clung to the perceived power of names/categories, to make other people see things their way. "It's a satire!" "Illusions, dad!" "Mr. Manager." And, relatedly, mistook fake things for real -- living in the model house, George treating all dolls as though they were people.
brainwane: Sumana, April 2015, with shaved head. (shaved head)
[personal profile] brainwane
After I wrote this review of Manikarnika and this tiny review of, among other things, Victoria & Abdul, I started showing Black Panther to my spouse and I was talking with him about it and about Thor: Ragnarok. And I started wondering aloud why Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, which are about royalty, actually have reasonably interesting things to say about geopolitics, while Captain America: Civil War tries to and is incoherent.

(Do I actually believe everything I say here? Not 100% sure. Iron Man 3 spoiler ahead.) )What I said about Victoria & Abdul and about Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi was: "both of which seem to think the problem with the British oppression of India is that local subjects were deprived of a wholesome, classy, righteous queen (rather than, say, that Indians were deprived of representative democracy)." And I think that message isn't just about the Raj. I mean, representative democracy is cognitively demanding and there are a million ways it's broken and everyone has to keep making decisions. Wouldn't it be nice for someone else to do it for us??

But -- no. We tried that.

[personal profile] yasaman, basically I am waving my hands around not sure whether I'm full of crap, and would particularly welcome your input here!

Done Since 2019-02-03

Feb. 10th, 2019 11:41 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

So, it's been a (mostly snowbound) week. It started snowing last Sunday morning; by Monday we had five inches and the streets were impassable. Tuesday I drove down the driveway because C had a Wednesday appointment and I needed to get the car charged; Wednesday we had to cancel because I couldn't get up the driveway. Good thing, because if I had Colleen and I would probably have gotten stuck at the bottom of some hill.

I was able to get out Thursday and shop for staples (and L's drugs). I had very sensibly parked on the street again. Apparently it takes two or three days for the crews to plow and sand the streets to the point where a two-wheel drive car can use them. C cancelled her Friday appointment just a few minutes before they would have called her. We have seven or eight inches total right now, with more on the way tonight, Monday, and Tuesday.

I've been less productive than I'd like for FAWM, but not entirely idle. I got my second song out on time, and then got totally stuck trying to come up with either a follower to that one, or something about my father. Total blank. I guess, in retrospect, that getting derailed was not really surprising, but those songs really want to get written. I was rescued yesterday by a collaboration with [personal profile] pocketnaomi, and it did involve a truck, but I'm still behind.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

I am falling behind in FAWM -- it's the 9th, and as of this afternoon I had only two songs up. Now, thanks to a collaboration with [personal profile] pocketnaomi, I have three (which is still behind, only not as much).

Today's s4s is Weird Load, and it was a heck of a lot of fun. N had the initial idea, and wrote the chorus (including the melody). I filled in the verses, and N posted it after some edits. Then I consed up the verse melody (which is almost the same as the chorus). It continues my short string of truck songs, although it's not connected at all to the other two.

Lyrics )

February Album Writing Month: FAWM.ORG/fawmers/mdlbear/.

Thankful... oh, right... Friday

Feb. 8th, 2019 02:38 pm
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Today I am thankful...

  • that I was able to get Molly (our Chevy Bolt) down the (snow-covered) driveway and on the charger Tuesday;
  • for our newly-installed charger, that can charge Molly from empty in nine-and-a-half hours, as opposed to fifty;
  • that I was able to get Molly up out of the driveway yesterday, and do some grocery shopping and drug running between snowstorms;
  • that Colleen's appointment in Freeland was cancelled (just as she was in the process of cancelling it herself);
  • that I was able to retrieve Desti after the silly creature decided to go out in the snow;
  • that I was able to get a couple of songs written for FAWM (whether I will manage to write any more remains to be seen);
  • for Boot-Repair.

DISCO realization

Feb. 7th, 2019 05:09 am
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
I was just rereading the Star Trek Encyclopedia I got for my 13th birthday and realized: this season of Star Trek: Discovery has every reason to feature Sybok.
jesse_the_k: Black dog sits on grass staring up at squirrel out of frame (BELLA expectant)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

I'm thrilled that Markdown simplifies formatting your DW posts has proved popular and helpful. I didn't explore all Markdown's features to keep it short. I regret that now. I'm drafting a "Markdown: the sequel" post with the remaining features. In a better timeline, I would have written "Markdown: the novel," integrating the sequel stuff in the first post. I want to maximize reference utility for DW users in the next decade. Three ways to do this occur to me, and I bet you have a better idea.

Three possible plans and a poll )

"The Kelburn Brewer"

Feb. 5th, 2019 01:35 pm
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
From 37:14 till about 42:00 of the 1st February episode of Caithream Ciùil is a rockin' instrumental tune with horns and strings. It is so rockin' that I wanted to know more! Despite not knowing Scottish Gaelic, I worked out that the song's "The Kelburn Brewer", and is a collaboration involving Natalie Haas and Alasdair Fraser and closes their CD "Abundance".

"The Kelburn Brewer" as a YouTube track. Gets going around 0:34, then picks up further about a minute in, then increases its jammin'-ness as it goes. Enjoy! And I should listen to more Haas and Fraser.

River: Dad... 20

Feb. 5th, 2019 10:30 am
mdlbear: (river)
[personal profile] mdlbear

It's been twenty years to the day since my father died. (And twenty years plus two weeks since my mother-in-law died; that was a devastating couple of weeks.)

Since it's FAWM, I probably ought to try to write a song. But there are two already: "The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of" and "Rainbow's Edge". Both have pretty extensive notes; I'm not going to duplicate them here.

I'm okay; it's been long enough that most of the sharp edges have worn off. (Although, I almost posted this with 10 instead of 20 -- maybe it hasn't been that long.)

The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of: [ogg] [mp3]

I still find myself wanting to call and tell him something, from time to time.

FAWM: Track-02: "Besties"

Feb. 4th, 2019 10:18 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Today's FAWM song, the second this month, is up: "Besties'.

It's the anticipated follow-on to "Twenty-First Century Breakup Song". I'm very unhappy with the audio of the first two verses; it's still very unstable and was even more so when I made the recording.

As the liner notes say, as soon as I'd written "Twenty-First Century Breakup Song", it was clear that I had to write the other part of the story. The only question was whose point of view to use, and that answered itself with the first line.

lyrics, if you don't want to click through or prefer indented choruses )

(Just as an aside, it's really hard to type with a warm, cuddly cat in one's lap. Should I write a song about you, Desti?)

It's been suggested (see comments on the song page) that this could turn into a theme album. I'm not sure I can sustain it for a full month, but there's certainly enough material in this story for an EP. *rubs hands together gleefully*

February Album Writing Month: FAWM.ORG/fawmers/mdlbear/.

"Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi"

Feb. 4th, 2019 07:06 am
brainwane: Photo of my head, with hair longish for me (longhair)
[personal profile] brainwane
(Capsule review by my spouse at his blog.)

I saw ads for this on Indian TV around Republic Day and thought, cool, sort of Wonder Woman action vibes plus a martial-arts-dance sequence plus anticolonialism! It's a big enough blockbuster that it's showing in some NYC theaters, so I took my spouse plus a couple friends to it the other night.

The friends in question are white, and one of them likes big action movies (we see the MCU together) but is pretty ignorant of history, especially world history. So I prepped them, double-checking that they did know that the British occupied India for basically most of the 19th century, and that we weren't too keen on that. I didn't want to spoil them for the film but I wasn't sure of exactly what events would be covered in the film. So I told them: I'm pretty sure that this film assumes you know that, in 1857, there was a rebellion against British rule. From the fact that India got its independence in 1947, you may infer that this rebellion didn't work out for us. So, British rule depended on a middle management layer of locals, including Indian clerks and Indian soldiers called sepoys.... And I explained the bit about the cartridges.

And we wondered what exposition would happen -- would there be a Star Wars-style info crawl at the start explaining who/what/when/where? Nope! More like, halfway through the movie, you see some soldiers and an onscreen caption reading "Cartridges were sent...." and then, mutiny montage. So I unknowingly guessed THE EXACT RIGHT chunk of history to preload into my friends' heads so they weren't COMPLETELY at sea.

But of course I could see/hear some other messages that they couldn't. Like how Manikarnika was being positioned as a kind of figurative avatar of Kali or Durga. Or the chanting of "Har Har Mahadev" (anodyne English subtitle: "Victory is ours"; actually an invocation to Lord Shiva so specifically Hindu that Hindus yell it during anti-Muslim pogroms and chanted it during Partition violence, and it's super noteworthy when Muslims say it as part of a "communal harmony" initiative). The anti-casteism message (the scene where the villager serves Laximbai milk) is tiny, and the "hey Muslims were a huge part of the mutiny!" message feels practically nonexistent. And yeah that closing where there's an Aum symbol written in fire on the ground (also sort of end-of-Ramayana Sita imagery, as I read it). And the pointed scene where the Queen of Jhansi rescues a calf from being slaughtered (read: only awful barbarians might want to kill and eat cattle!). And all the treason and betrayal by other Indians, and all the "motherland" and "we try peace but we'll fight to defend ourselves" and "honor" and "so awesome to have a chance to be a martyr!" talk. This is a disturbing movie. It has fun bits in it, it has moving bits in it, but I came away distressed.

See, I haven't seen Lagaan* in a while, but in Lagaan, all the Indians work together. All castes, Muslims and Hindus together, women and men together, a guy with a disability turns out to be an amazing pitcher, and so on. Aamir Khan's character shows some leadership and you get a lot of training montages and it's about beating violent coercion with excellence and discipline and cleverness. Manikarnika is not like that. Manikarnika is about the joy of killing British soldiers, about the indivisible pride of the motherland and the people on/from it, and about a vision of Hindu nationalism that has no room for Ambedkar or Gandhi. And this is a huge blockbuster hit in a country that means a lot to me.

I need to read Harleen Singh's The Rani of Jhansi: Gender, History and Fable in India (Cambridge University Press, 2014) or a similar work before I say: this movie is historically inaccurate. And it weirds me out that it's hard for me to find reviews where people talk in depth about what's going on in this movie, politically. Is it all happening in Hindi, which I don't know and can't read? Am I completely misreading it? Is it not even worth explicating because it's so obvious to every Indian sourcelander watching it? (Indian news sources do point out that this seems almost part of a BJP pre-election campaign push.)

I'm worried, you know? Maybe one reason I'm not seeing people talk about this online is because they're afraid of retribution.

* I could swear that one of the British officers in Manikarnika is played by the same guy who played the main villain in Lagaan. IMDb seems to disagree. Maybe it's just similar facial hair.

Done Since 2019-01-28

Feb. 3rd, 2019 08:32 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Good grief! Got so wrapped in songwriting -- or is that FAWMwriting -- that I didn't notice it was Sunday. I will attempt to rectify that error.

I managed to start FAWM (February Album-Writing Month, in case you missed the announcements) pretty well; the silly thing's been well received, I think. You can also see the lyrics on yesterday's Songs for Saturday, but you'll have to click through to FAWM if you want the audio. Which is not too bad for something that was slapped together in under an hour. It's only the one song so far, we'll see whether I can make a second song come together by tomorrow night.

Related to that, I finally got around to uploading Coffee, Computers, and Song to bandcamp

It's still snowing here on Whidbey; we're well on our way to getting the predicted 3-4 inches. I am not crazy about driving in snow, but I can do it when I have to. I parked on the street this evening; I don't know what the driveway is going to be like after the slush freezes, but I don't really want to know.

The most useful links this week are probably the ones on Monday about Data Privacy Day.

Notes & links, as usual )

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