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the real kwon
06 February 2016 @ 12:19 pm
I meant to do a whole Festivids rec post before leaving for Costa Rica, but then I ran out of time, so it'll have to wait. Instead I would just like to take a moment to shout out to my wonderful gift vid: Take It Off, which combines two of my absolute favorite things, bouncy dance pop music and the 1970s film Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Swing dancing! Witchcraft! People turning into rabbits right and left! EVERYBODY TAKE IT OFF so all your clothing can become enchanted weaponry in the fight against Nazi oppression! It's so good, everyone please watch it immediately.

In other news: I'm going to Costa Rica until next Sunday, internet status questionable! Everyone have fun for the next week and try not to get hit by a blizzard.

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the real kwon
05 February 2016 @ 06:35 pm
I read various Zilpha Keatley Snyder books as a kid, but the only ones I actually owned were The Headless Cupid and The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case.

The Stanley kids consist of:

- David, viewpoint character, a sober and responsible eleven-year-old who is resignedly used to acting as semi-parental unit to various small siblings since his mother's death
- Janie, six-year-old genius, who enjoys creating drama, solving mysteries, and announcing her IQ to anyone who will listen;
- Esther, fairly ordinary four-year-old who likes toys and explicable rules and neatness;
- Blair, angelic and slightly spooky four-year-old who talks to animals and might have some kind of supernatural sixth sense, but it's a bit hard to tell what is that and what is just being four

At the beginning of The Headless Cupid, the Stanleys are about to get a new stepmother, Molly. This is fine with them; Molly is a sweetheart! They're a little less certain about Molly's twelve-year-old daughter Amanda, a sulky preteenager with who appears to have taken Fairuza Balk's character in The Craft as her role model. Hypothetically supernatural shenanigans rooted in complex emotional issues and reluctant sibling bonding ensue, rather like a less murderous version of Wait 'Til Helen Comes.

...then in The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case they all move to Italy for a year and the kids get SURPRISE KIDNAPPED based on a WACKY MISUNDERSTANDING! Even as a child I thought this was a hilarious genre shift, although the actual feel of the books is still pretty similar -- the focus is more on the kids and their relationships with each other than the actual plot.

However, due to a conversation with [personal profile] allchildren a little while ago, I have since recently learned that there are two MORE Stanley books that I never knew existed!

It turns out that Blair's Nightmare is basically everything I could have wanted out of a third Stanley book. Plot: Blair, now six, still angelic and spooky, is sleepwalking and talking about seeing a giant dog, which can't possibly be real ... OR CAN IT? Also, David is afraid of being targeted by the school bully, Pete, until Amanda PUNCHES PETE IN THE FACE -- after which Pete abruptly wants to become David's best friend, especially if it means that Amanda might be around also and might ... also .... want to hang out ..... *___*? Which is ... kind of adorable, honestly, but not as adorable as David crankily accusing Amanda of just helping him because she thought he was pathetic, and Amanda being like "no, doofus, I just had a sibling feeling! It was weird, but neat! :D" KIDS.

Also, I forgot to mention there are escaped convicts on the loose.

Janie's Private Eyes, the fourth book, is also cute, and World's Most Annoying Child Genius Janie is always pretty hilarious, but the plot is about Janie & the Stanleys proving that Janie's new best friend Thuy and her Vietnamese family are not the culprits behind a rash of dog thefts, aka White Kids Generously Save Local Immigrants From Racism, so, you know.

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the real kwon
28 January 2016 @ 05:50 pm
I've been slogging for weeks now through A Treasury of Yiddish Stories -- slogging because like 90% of the stuff in there is incredibly depressing, which is difficult for 600 pages. (And come on, editors, not all Yiddish stories are super depressing! Although admittedly this was first published and compiled in 1954 when it is not TOTALLY surprising that people compiling works related to Eastern European Jewish culture would be A LITTLE generally depressed.)

Anyway, not everything was super depressing; a few things were very charming, including my absolute favorite, a Jewish fairy tale by I.L. Peretz called "Devotion Without End" which is full of WACKY PLOT TWISTS and has an important moral.

The moral is, God really HATES non-constructive criticismCollapse )

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the real kwon
23 January 2016 @ 03:07 pm
I've been waiting until I had enough time to go hunt down images to do a post about the kdrama Faith: The Great Doctor, because, like

the wigs

the wigs

The story of a time-traveling plastic surgeon and her romance with a famous historical general with lightning handsCollapse )

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the real kwon
21 January 2016 @ 07:29 pm
Not everything I've been reading recently is grim or horrific! Sherwood Smith's Lhind the Thief is a fluffy fantasy romp involving magic and vague politics and more secret royalty than you can shake a stick at.

The protagonist, Lhind, is a orphan thief who gets picked up and carried off by some mysterious individuals one day after accidentally doing some concerningly impressive magic right in front of them. The mysterious individuals make most of a full D&D group, including a bard, a grumpy noble, and a nerdy mage-scribe named Hlanan.

Spoilers for the first third of the book!Collapse )

The rest of the book basically just involves Lhind Learning To Trust while consistently saving everybody's lives from various conspiracies with her super magical powers. There's a good magical MacGuffin and an evil magical MacGuffin and some politics around an evil sorcerous kingdom which I had a hard time following, and, again, let me repeat: if you're frustrated with secret royalty, this is absolutely not the book for you. However, if you would like some fun fantasy fluff, it very well might be!

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the real kwon
16 January 2016 @ 10:36 am
So I reread Daughter of the Forest, and in doing so was irresistibly reminded of Jennifer Roberson's Cheysuli books, which, like Daughter of the Forest, are vaguely Celtic fantasy creepily centered around a prophesied fantasy breeding program; but no! I said to myself, no, they are not good. I am aware they are not good, I am not going to reread them! There is no reason to reread any Cheysuli books!

And then I flew to Philadephia for a 24-hour trip, and read The Girl With All The Gifts on the plane, and got stressed out by travel and zombies, and decided to look through my adolescent bookshelves for something ridiculous and unstressful to read on the plane ride back, and yes, we all know how this story ends, which is I MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE. I remembered they were bad! I did not remember HOW VERY. I wronged you, Juliet Marillier; compared to Shapechangers, Daughter of the Forest is a class act.

The Cheysuli books are set in a land called 'Homana' -- "derived from 'home!'" says Jennifer Roberson in her cheery author's note, which, NO, REALLY, I WOULD NEVER HAVE GUESSED, although I guess it's slightly better than Mercedes Lackey's 'Alanda' -- and are VERY SERIOUS BOOKS about FANTASY RACISM. Homana is mostly inhabited by non-magical, presumably white Homanans, but also by the dark-skinned, black-haired, yellow-eyed, beautiful, noble, valiant, super-special, incredibly exoticized Cheysuli who live in tents and have mystical soul-animals and also can shapeshift and also have some other magic powers that pop up whenever is convenient.

Once upon a time, the Cheysuli were in charge of the country, but then they stepped down voluntarily when they realized the white people were uncomfortable with them and their MYSTIC POWERS and their ALIEN AFFECT and BEASTLIKE EYES. However, they still have a prophecy about how one day a half-Cheysuli king will unite Homana with all the surrounding countries and it is BASICALLY the only thing that any Cheysuli ever talks about, even though for the past 25 years pre-story they have been the target of a MASSIVE ATTEMPTED GENOCIDE so you would think they would have more pressing concerns.

This is only where it STARTS to get grossCollapse )

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the real kwon
12 January 2016 @ 11:57 pm
I found The Girl With All The Gifts much more stressful to read than I expected! Kudos to M.R. Carey for writing a book compelling enough that it made me anxious on the protagonist's behalf all the way from Boston to Philadelphia.

The story starts out with a tight focus on Melanie, a bright little girl in a classroom in an experimental facility, and her bond with her favorite teacher, Miss Justineau, who is the only one who treats the kids there like human beings as opposed to mysteriously and potentially dangerous monsters who need to be strapped into chairs when interacting with anybody else. Melanie is fine with most of this, since she doesn't really remember anything else, but she wishes non-classroom times weren't so boring and is mildly concerned about the occasions when other children disappear beyond the doors into the lab and don't come back.

Spoilers below!Collapse )

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the real kwon
06 January 2016 @ 06:23 pm
Recently I got a mysterious urge to reread Daughter of the Forest, the first book in Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters series. I read these books when they came out and the sum total of what I remembered about them is:

- six swans fairytale?
- vaguely Celtic?
- romance of some sort?

None of which is inaccurate, although I did not remember ... that the central romance was between a grown adult and a fourteen-year-old girl .....

I also did not remember all the super gendered suffering, although, I mean, I guess some of it is kind of written into the Six Swans storyCollapse )

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the real kwon
03 January 2016 @ 11:45 am
Something else I did in 2015 that I never got a chance to write up: finish all of Deep Space Nine!

Episodes 11-26 of Season Seven (?!?!) under the cutCollapse )

I don't ... necessarily feel like Deep Space Nine really stuck the landing; my favorite moment of the entire series is probably that shift at the end of Season Five, with its promise of serialized greatness that they never quite figure out how to manage. However, this diminishes neither my love for the show as a whole, nor my feeling of bereft bewilderment that we've actually seen the whole thing and there is no more. How is there no more? Come on, Star Trek Powers That Be, I would ABSOLUTELY watch Season Eight with Captain Kira and her right-hand woman Ezri and her frenemeses Quark and Gadfly Reporter Jake. Also, where are my Captain Nog Adventures?? THE PEOPLE DEMAND CAPTAIN NOG ADVENTURES.

([personal profile] innerbrat and I spent several weeks over the holidays trying to figure out what we were going to watch next, and if it was going to be another Star Trek, but I think I need a break before I start trying to love another Star Trek cast so that I don't resent them for not being the DS9 crew. So instead we are switching over to kdrama for a while and watching Hong Gil Dong. After that, we'll see!)

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the real kwon
01 January 2016 @ 11:35 pm
I am possibly more behind on booklogging than I have maybe ever been, though some of this list are things I'm holding off on posting about until the next in the series comes out or something like that. Anyway, the usual drill: if you're curious about anything I haven't talked about yet, feel free to comment and ask!

Books read, 2015Collapse )

So that's 117 books total (three short of my unofficial goal of 10 books/month), and ... only 6 comics/graphic novels, wow. I really need to up my illustrated media intake next year. I think 17 of the 117 were nonfiction, if I'm counting right, and 13 rereads. 104 new books (plus six new graphic novels) is not terrible. But I am hoping next year will have more books in it.

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the real kwon
01 January 2016 @ 11:05 am
I've read maybe four fics in the Yuletide archive so far that weren't gifted to me -- my own gifts were so amazing and plentiful (THANKS FOR A PERFECT FIC, [personal profile] fahye, YOU DELIGHTFUL RIDICULOUS HUMAN) and then things have been so busy since that I have not had the time! I am very much looking forward to working through everything in a slow and leisurely fashion over the next year. :D

As for what I wrote:

The Raptor, Ladyhawke

I hadn't thought about this delightfully ridiculous 80's film in years -- I actually matched with my recipient on Casablanca -- but when I saw she was asking for prequel fic with, like, actual logistics ... and historical context .... I COULD NOT RESIST. How would you cope if one day you're a fairly ordinary medieval lady and the next day you're spending half your time as an angry bird?

Due to the fact that I am in no way a medieval scholar, this is a fic that was even more of a collaborative effort than usual. I am enormously grateful to actual medieval scholars [personal profile] rymenhild and [personal profile] izilen for brainstorming historical plausibility with me, [personal profile] izilen again for going through and catching all my accidental anachronisms, and [personal profile] genarti and [personal profile] newredshoes for betaing!

Ecdysis, The Lie Tree

Faith, Paul, and ill-advised adventures in Victorian photography!

I'd sort of forgotten that [personal profile] gogollescent made almost exactly the same Lie Tree request I did until it went out on the pinch-hit list, after which I was like "well, probably no one else is going to write Lie Tree fic so I may as well give it a go" ... OH, HOW WONDERFULLY WRONG I WAS. In addition to the adorable Lie Tree fic I myself received, you should also read Gogol's other gift, The Transformation, which features a Faith of a pitch-perfect terrifying fierceness that I can only dream of capturing. I am proud of the Victorian photography details, though. This was a very research-heavy Yuletide year!

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the real kwon
28 December 2015 @ 10:01 pm
In the past two weeks, I have seen two children's musicals. One was New Repertory Theater's The Snow Queen, which jinian has already posted about, and [personal profile] genarti has promised to post about, and [personal profile] littledust has made a number of pointed tweets about, so I'm just going to ... let that unfortunate conglomeration of snow bees, talking flowers and poor directorial judgment sit where it's lying for a while.

INSTEAD I am going to talk about A.R.T.'s The Pirate Princess, the Twelfth Night MUSICAL PIRATE AU, which [personal profile] genarti and I went to see tonight and which was everything we wanted it to be AND MORE!Collapse )

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the real kwon
27 December 2015 @ 12:26 am
You may recall that yesterday I was shrieking about my Yuletide fics, including how lucky I was to receive a 7 Seeds fic that was hilarious, perfect, and fourteen thousand words long!

Then I received an apologetic note from my author explaining that they had forgotten to load the second chapter before the deadline.

My 7 Seeds Yuletide lesbians fic is in fact actually THIRTY-THREE THOUSAND words long, now featuring an even richer and more thoughtful emotional arc, more screentime for my other favorite characters, and basically everything I love about stories in which people attempt to build a community out of a traumatized box of scraps. I cannot fathom how I got this lucky. At this rate I'm expecting a pony to show up on my doorstep tomorrow morning.

(Also my further Christmas adventures have included dinner & screwball comedy with [personal profile] newredshoes and [personal profile] oliviacirce and the unparalleled entertainment of watching my mother attempt to explain the plot of the original Star Wars trilogy to an entirely uninitiated cousin. "So the movie starts out with a kid named Luke Skywalker ... and you think he and Leia are going to be the romantic leads, but then! it turns out!")

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the real kwon
25 December 2015 @ 09:48 am
My day started out with a cat throwing up in my bedroom at 4 AM (three hours after I went to bed), after which I fled the house to catch a 7:30 AM bus to New York, which promptly broke down half an hour out. It's fine though! We've got another bus and also I can't really be annoyed at anything because a.) once I finally get to New York I have a great day of Jewish Christmas planned with cousins and friends and Chinese food and possibly screwball comedy and b.) I AM STILL BUSY SCREAMING INTERNALLY ABOUT HOW MUCH I WON YULETIDE THIS YEAR, like?? I've had some amazing Yuletide years in the past, but this is ABOVE AND BEYOND.

I got all the stuff I was convinced I was least likely to get --

A Moment of Utter Stillness, happy-ending postcanon fic for Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree, one of my favorite books to come out this year? Featuring Further Adventures of Paul and Faith, two of my best beloved terrible children in a long roster of terrible fictional children I have loved:

Faith imagined herself sinking deeper into the mud, entombed there forever, the eons slowly turning her to stone – a fossil waiting to be discovered by another little girl from the future, a girl with an alien face, but inquisitive, multi-faceted eyes, a fly-person looking back across the ages, to a distant time when mammals ruled the earth.

Ah, scientific creepiness and a death-wish. CLASSIC FAITH. <3 ...uh, but really most of the fic is a super hopeful happy ending for them and I'm so delighted that someone wrote it for me!

So this was wonderful and unlikely enough, BUT ALSO I got:

win me, win me, an ye will, an amazing?? PITCH-PERFECT???? crossover!!!! between Miss Marjoribanks, the greatest obscure Victorian social engineering competence porn novel possibly ever written, and Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown, one of my OTHER favorite books to come out this year, in which Lucilla Marjoribanks is called upon to defeat a lady of the fairies in single! combat! TO THE SOCIAL DEATH! (and possibly also the death death) (but a lady prefers not to discuss such things explicitly)

"I am afraid that we find ourselves in a very awkward position," Lucilla told the Lady sadly. She had a horror of social awkwardness above all things. "Asking you to withdraw your influence from Marchbank was my intention also."

Every single one of you should read this; no knowledge of either canon is really necesary for enjoyment beyond a general awareness of the tropes of Victorian literature and/or fairy stories, and I spent basically every other sentence screaming in awe, hilarity, or both. Finally, Lucilla Marjoribanks has a sphere worthy of her prodigious talents! (I do have a suspicion about who might have written this; we'll see if I am right. Either way, whoever it is, they are clearly as much of a genius as Lucilla Marjoribanks herself.)

BUT ALSO ALSO -- as if this were not already a bounty far beyond what I could have dreamed! -- I got:

the year we built the windows, a NOVELLA-LENGTH 7 SEEDS LESBIAN ARCHITECT/ENGINEER CHARACTER STUDY AND ROMANCE?!?! This is at least the fifth time I've asked for 7 Seeds fic in an exchange without ever receiving it, and this has now become a lesson to me in the value of persistence; now and only now do I understand that the universe has just been saving up until now, when it has presented me with EVERYTHING I COULD HAVE POSSIBLY WANTED. The characterization and relationships are beautiful -- not just Ran/Nijiko, but Ran and Hana, Ran and Botan, Ran and Team Autumn, Nijiko and Team Summer A, Ran and the echoes of the past civilization, all of them get their due -- and it has everything I love in canon, all the themes of failure, and second chances, and slow, indefinable growth.


Nijiko frowned through her ridiculous prison-bar bangs. "How did you know it randomizes water pressure?"

"I heard Ayu-san say so," Ran lied, because it was less soul-crushing than conceding she might have asked Akane to note the volume of water in a bath bucket, before-and-after, and dragged out some undergrad calculus to ascertain whether the Summer A girls had actually done womankind the service of getting massaging showerhead action out of a glorified flute.

Picking a part to quote was incredibly difficult because did I mention there's fourteen thousand brilliant words of it?? God. THIS YULETIDE. I almost don't want to go read the rest of the archive! I need more time to just wallow in the luxury of my gifts like a dragon with a fic hoard.

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the real kwon
22 December 2015 @ 01:24 am
that Star Wars movieCollapse )

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the real kwon
14 December 2015 @ 05:25 pm
Last night I went to Zoolights with [personal profile] genarti and [personal profile] jinian. This is an recurring holiday season event during which a local zoo gets itself gussied up in the evenings, drapes lights all over everything, serves overpriced vaguely festive fair food, and lets you check out the nocturnal animals and have photo opportunities with reindeer.

The animals were excellent, the reindeer also so, and the hot apple cider as tasty and overpriced as one would expect. Eventually, we ran out of nocturnal animals to bother and wandered into the region marked "Lights and Sights!"

Well, there were absolutely lights, and there were also ... certainly sights ...

Cut for images and fridge horrorCollapse )

MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHRISTIAN FRIENDS. I'll be over here, with the gambling and fried foods.

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the real kwon
11 December 2015 @ 05:41 pm
It took me a little while to get into Court of Fives, Kate Elliott's new YA series-starter, but about midway through it got very more-ish!

Our Heroine Jessamy is a tomboy super-athlete whose lifelong dream is to compete in American Ninja Warrior. (Well, Saroese-Efean Ninja Warrior.) Alas, though she is competent and skilled and could probably make a pretty good go of it, it would embarrass her family, since women of the Saroese culture that colonized the local Efeans a few generations back are not supposed to make with the sportsing. Saroese and Efeans are also known, with EXTREME SUBTLETY, as 'Patrons' and 'Commoners.'

Jessamy isn't exactly Patron -- her father, a high-ranking general, lives in a state of quasi-marriage with her Efean mother, and is attempting to raise his four mixed-race daughters to the point where possibly at least one of them might be able to marry into the upper class. Jes' sisters include Maraya the sensible intellectual one, Bettany the angry one, and Amaya the bratty flirty one ... and despite these INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS CLUES, only just now when reading a blog post did I realize that it is 100% and explicitly a Little Women AU, except that the Beth equivalent so far is the anti-Beth in just about every possible way. Curious to see how that one plays out, I gotta say!

...OK so I guess at this point I start over with a better description? Court of Fives is a Little Women AU in which the Jo-analogue yearns to compete in American Ninja Warrior but is prevented due to family duty and society, but then gets distracted by dramatic life-changing events, and then does some actual competing in American Ninja Warrior, and then gets distracted again by having to rescue her family from SURPRISINGLY DARK FATES. Unsurprisingly, this is the point when it gets interesting and complicated and more-ish. Along the way, she learns that politics and race relations are complex, colonialism is probably bad, history can be rewritten, lesbians exist, and sometimes it is required to be stone cold ruthless to get what you want.

The prose, especially in the beginning, feels a little clunkier than in the other Kate Elliott books I've read, which ... is pretty much just the Spiritwalker trilogy, so I don't really have a huge point of comparison actually, but there's some noticeable "AS YOU KNOW, [insert cultural explanation here]" to set the stage, and it has the slightly bland first-person present-tense thing going on that seems to be de rigueur for YA these days and of which I admit I am a little tired. It gets less clunky once some of the initial plot-bombs start going off, though. I like Jes and her sisters, and there are enough super interesting plot-bombs chucked around in the last half-to-third of the book that I'm definitely committed to reading the rest. (Because it is a YA trilogy, I fear I can see the dreaded shape of a love triangle looming on the horizon, but it's not there yet and I do have confidence that the primary emotional driving force will continue to be SIBLINGS AND FAMILY!! rather than BOYS!!)

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the real kwon
05 December 2015 @ 02:14 pm
I picked up Thomas Mallon's Bandbox because I saw my roommate reading it and was struck by the cover image:

So I asked her if it was good, and she said, "It's good, but there are a million characters and you probably won't be able to keep them straight."

I nodded, and eyed the book, which looked about 300 pages long at most, and thought about the five-zillion-page epic fantasy monstrosities I'd consumed in my fine, and thought smugly that I would probably be fine.

Spoilers: I was not fine. At this stage, having finished the book all of three hours ago, I still have no idea who half the cast were or how to describe their role in the story. The cast, as I remember it, consists of:

- Harris, the head of fancy men's fashion magazine Bandbox, now facing stiff competition from another, almost-identical magazine run by a former protege
- Jimmy, his former protege and NEMESIS
- Betsy, his deaf and competent girlfriend
- John/Shep, a teenager and loyal reader of Bandbox who then gets kidnapped by mobsters due to a misunderstanding
- Cuddles, a drunken ... assistant editor .....? ... anyway he used to do something useful and now he does nothing except Grantaire glumly around because he's hopelessly in love with
- Becky, a brisk and efficient staff writer who is finally getting good assignments and does many useful things, three cheers for Becky, and three cheers also for me for managing not to get her confused with Betsy
- Daisy, a sexy ... fact-checker ....? and former Duchess ...? who is dating a judge with ties to the mob and also occasionally sleeping with other people for fun and profit, which the narrative and everyone else is pretty cool with
- Jimmy again ...? (his name is probably not actually Jimmy), lady's man, man's man, man about town and also staff writer, who then gets into a very distressing plot in which he enters an abusive relationship with a movie star which drives him back into drink but which he can't end because he needs to write a staff column about her and also she stalks him when he tries to run away and it's EXTREMELY DISTURBING
- but it's fine because then he's rescued by Nan O'Grady who does something else at the magazine, and I have no idea what that something is but it's doesn't really matter because she's upgraded to muckracker columnist after she rescues Jimmy from the abusive movie star via muckraking
- a useless gay model whose name I can't remember
- a hapless gay restaurant-owner with a fake Italian accent and a crush on the useless gay model which, in the other worst subplot, he is SEVERELY AND UNFORTUNATELY narratively punished for it
- Alan (?), an ardently vegetarian copyeditor who, on the other hand, has the BEST subplot, in which he goes on a MISSION to rescue a KOALA BEAR and then EVERY OTHER ANIMAL WHICH IS EXPLOITED FOR FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY IN NEW YORK CITY
- an assorted collection of mobsters and colorful characters
- a whole bunch of other writers and staff members of the magazine who all presumably do SOMETHING important and frequently impact the plot in important ways but whom I could not keep individuated in my head for the life of me
- occasional appearances by knockoffs of famous people such as Ernest Hemingway
- occasional appearances by actual famous people such as Dorothy Gish

...so as you can see there's a lot going on in Bandbox! Aside from the two most distressing subplots, it's a fairly enjoyable 1920s semi-slapstick whirlwind. (Well, 1928, to be specific. Enjoy the good times while they last, kids!) It would probably make an excellent miniseries, which I would enjoy because if they all had substantially different faces I might be able to tell some of the characters apart. Also it might give an opportunity to cast some actors who are not white, since the book singularly fails to actively include any.

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the real kwon
03 December 2015 @ 06:08 pm
It took me over two years, but I've finally read ALL TWENTY of Lindsey Davis' Marcus Didius Falco books AND the first three books in her NEW series about Falco's adopted British daughter, Flavia Albia. That is a LOT of pseudo-Roman faux-noir mystery novels of varying quality. And I still don't know if I actually think they're good?

This entry got long so it"s under a cutCollapse )

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the real kwon
28 November 2015 @ 12:04 am
I'm home in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving, and my dad suggested that we all go and see Equivocation at the Arden Theater. If you happen to be in the area: WORTH THE PRICE.

Equivocation posits a hypothetical in which Robert Cecil, Secretary of State to James I, commissions Shakespeare to write a "true history" play of the Gunpowder Plot.

SHAKESPEARE: I don't write propaganda stories.
CECIL: You wrote Richard III! You made Richard of York a hunchback!
SHAKESPEARE: He was a murderer!
CECIL: They're all murderers! He balanced the budget.

In his attempt to turn the Crown's version of events into a coherent and semi-truthful play without getting executed for it --

SHAKESPEARE: A group of men plan to blow up Parliament, and then they don't. There's no plot!
CECIL: It is TREASON to say that there was no plot!
CECIL: .... ohhhh, you mean there's no plot!

-- Shakespeare goes hunting for the actual truth about what happened during the Gunpowder Plot, along the way confronting interpersonal conflicts among his actors, questions of morality and politics and posterity, and his own stoppered-up emotions about the death of his son Hamnet. Judith Shakespeare, Hamnet's cranky and neglected twin, who keeps track of the number of deaths in Shakespeare's plays and has VERY strong feelings about soliloquies (she hates them) plays a major role. She's the one woman in the production, but she has a lot to say; Shakespeare's relationship with her is either the heart of the story or very close to it.

Richard Burbage also plays a major role. He has a passionate scene in which he confesses that Shakespeare means more to him than anything in the world, and then he strides forward and clutches Shakespeare's face and the fact that they don't actually make out at that point surprised me more than just about anything else in the play. It could just be that Richard was probably the best actor in the cast; he doubled as an incredibly powerful Henry Garnet, a historical figure about whom I previously knew nothing, so it's really quite unfair that I'm now extremely sad about him. James I, who doubles as hotheaded young actor Richard Sharpe, is also much more interesting than he initially appears (although his Scottish accent stays sadly terrible throughout the whole thing.) The cast of Shakespeare's company is rounded out by Nathan Field, who doubles as Cecil and does all his interesting acting there, and Robert Armin, who doesn't really get to do anything interesting as far as I recall except a brief scene in which he doubles as Buckingham in order to bang King James.

The playwright is clearly very pleased with himself for the opportunity to play around with plays within plays -- Shakespeare goes through multiple (intermittently terrible and/or treasonous) drafts of the Gunpowder Plot play, many of them performed with/during/around his interviews with the participants -- and somehow manages to turn the line "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" delivered exactly as per Macbeth's script into one of the best brick jokes in the entire show.

It's not a perfect play; it's very clever and very pleased with its own metatextuality and it's probably got too much crammed into it, but this is one of those cases where the flaws probably make it more fun for me, specifically. (Except some unnecessary slanders on the name of Anne Hathaway. RUDE.) But it gives me lots of what I like best, which is lengthy explorations of why people write things the way they do, and also getting to watch people watching shows and reacting to them in interesting ways. Anyway, it's all HIGHLY enjoyable and I would absolutely recommend.

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