oursin: Cartoon hedgehog going aaargh (Hedgehog goes aaargh)
[personal profile] oursin

Email from somebody who is research assistant to A Clueless Senior Academic, on a wholly-work-related topic, to my home address.

Am prepared to bet that ACSA said to research assistant, contact the knowledgeable and helpful Dr Oursin with this question about a specific collection of archives -

Without, however, giving the RA my work email contact, so no doubt they googled for me and got my personal website.

RA does not write very well (mutter, grumble, shakes antimacassar, what are young scholars today coming to).

On the surface, the question is, are bits of the collection missing, which yes, there are certain things not there, this is the nature of personal papers, they seldom survive in their entirety -

But I suspect that what the question is REALLY about is concerning a ripperology-type sensationalist factoid about the person in question and have the records of person's (alleged) SEKKRIT DODGY RESEARCH been expurgated? And not why no luv-letters, family holiday snaps, etc.

Pride (film review)

Oct. 31st, 2014 10:27 am
selenak: (Carl Denham by Grayrace)
[personal profile] selenak
On the road again, so I won't get to see the new Elementary until this evening, in all likelihood. However, yesterday I did get to make an excursion to the cinema. A film that was released in Britain a while ago has just been released over here as well: Pride, starring a collection of familiar and not so familiar British character actors, set in the 1980s, and revolving around the irresistable union of London based gay activists and striking Welsh miners.

"They're hated by Thatcher, the tabloids and the coppers", argues Mark in the opening sequence about the miners. "Sound familiar? The only problem we've got and they don't is Mary Whitehouse, and that's just a matter of time."

Some of his fellow gays point out they got beaten up by miners and have no intention of supporting them now, but Mark manages to get a small group together, with the unwieldy name of Lesbians And Gays Support The Miners ("it's not a skiffle group!"), after some failed attempts finds a Welsh mining town where there's a union man, Dai, who's actually grateful for the support, and from then the story gets rolling. It's an ensemble tale all around, with both the gay and the Welsh characters (and yes, there are gay Welshmen, too) having their own stories. There's the expected culture clash comedy, but the film never laughs at, only with both sets of characters.

Sidenote: also Dominic West as the oldest of the London based gays, flamboyant Jonathan, has the time of his life winning the Welsh over with a disco dancing number that would make John Travolta pale with envy. Seriously, even someone in the cinema I was in applauded!

Gender-wise, there's balance, too, and also age and look wise, because since this is a British film, the female characters don't have all to be in the 20-40 thin and pretty range - in fact, there's only one major female character who fits that description, Faye Masye as Steph ("I'm the L in Lesbians and Gays Suppert the Miners"). Imelda Staunton rocks as the Welsh matriarch Hefina, Jessica Gunning ditto as Sian (who'll turn out to be inspired by these events to get her degree and go into politics), and a fabulous old actress (I think called Julie Barclay, but I may have read the credits wrong) all get as much screentime as the men. Oh, and while there is no big romance in the film - there a few established couples, some exes and some casual hook-ups, but the relationships given the most narrative weight are the friendships that develop - , there's equal opportunity snogging - m/m, f/f, m/f, all there.

Two actors cast against (recent) type deliver great subtle performances: Bill Nighy as Cliff, shy Welsh schoolmaster (if you've only seen Nighy in flashy extrovert roles, which is the case with me, this is especially striking), and Andrew Scott as bookstore owner Gethin, Jonathan's partner, who is originally from Wales and had no intention of going back at first. Andrew Scott's most prominent role to date being the incredible grating and annoying (to me) Jim Moriarty in Sherlock, it was amazing to see the contrast here, because Gethin is another low key character, and when he talks to Hefina on the phone for the first time and she identifies his accent, there is such a lot Scott does with his facial expression and voice intonation alone.

It's what usually gets referred to as a feel good movie, but not a dishonest one that pretends all goes well; after all, the audience knows going in the miners won't win against Thatcher. There are bigots who don't see the light among the Welsh. And since this is a story set in the mid 80s with mainly LGTB characters, three guesses which fear is hovering around the edges and encroaching more and more around several characters' lives. But friendship and two way solidarity still wins out, and quick googling tells me that the movie is actually pretty fact based, which makes it even better.

Best early 80s gag: "There are no gay artists on this label" says a reception woman when Mark is trying to organize a solidarity concert... and then the camera reveals a poster of label artist Elton John.

Shortest instantly recognizable cameo: Russell Tovey as Mark's ex.

Most obvious cliché still put to endearing use: The Welsh breaking into song. ("Breads and Roses". ) Because of course they do. Seriously though, that scene rivals with Jonathan's dance number as "why isn't this a musical already?", in a good way.

In conclusion: go and watch!

What's my counter mission?

Oct. 30th, 2014 08:04 pm
selenak: (SydSloane - Perfectday)
[personal profile] selenak
...as Sydney Bristow used to ask during the one and a half first seasons of Alias. The Yuletide assignment were sent, and I'm pleased with mine; mind you, something that happened to me last year with a completely different fandom and a completely different recipient also happened this year, which cracks me up (it's nothing bad). But I already have ideas for the fandom and request in question, so I'm pretty sure I can do something decent with it.

Meanwhile, I'm eyeing at least one treat, unless rl collapses on me.

Women Gatekeepers of Nerdery

Oct. 30th, 2014 01:33 pm
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)
[personal profile] brigid

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

I don’t remember a time when I hadn’t seen “Star Wars.” I grew up with it. The original trilogy is one of my mom’s favorite films, and she took Baby Me into the theater to see “The Empire Strikes Back,” nursing me to keep me quiet. We used to check out the television magazine in the Sunday Tribune and highlight the showings of “Star Wars” movies, and she’d let me stay up late to watch them. She started reading me “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” as a bedtime story when I was so young that it just sank into my conscious. I don’t remember hearing it for the first time, I don’t remember a time without those stories in my blood, although I do remember lying on an inflatable pool float on the floor one hot and sticky summer listening to her reading to me and my brothers. Something was going on with our bedrooms, I don’t remember what, and we weren’t able to sleep in them. So we camped out on the floor upstairs and she read to us by candle light.

My mom introduced me to a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and encouraged me to read and enjoy the genre. She scoured used book stores for out of print books back in the day when out of print books could be very hard to find (no internet!). She took it as given that I could and should love these books, these movies, these tv shows. She shared them with me, shared her love and adoration, her visions of the future and endless possibilities.

I know a huge amount of women who are really deeply invested in science fiction and fantasy books, movies, and tv shows. Most of them were introduced to it by other women, by their moms and aunts and older sisters and cousins and best friends. Paperbacks are circulated, pages worn fabric-smooth, binding creased and bent and chipping away, covers held on with yellowing tape. Read this. Try this. What do you think of this? Have you read this one yet? We induct each other into little worlds, usher each other in, introduce each other to our favorite books and characters and authors and worlds.

More and more the recommendations involve “there’s a female central character!” or “nobody gets raped in this one!”

Science Fiction and Fantasy, like Gaming, has a reputation as being male-dominated, a genre ruled by men: written by men, about men, for men. Women interested in these areas are treated as trespassers, foreigners, creatures suspect and false. This despite the fact that there’s a very long history of women writing Science Fiction and Fantasy… that one could easily argue that the novel in general and Science Fiction specifically were founded/originated by women authors. Women have always been involved with Science Fiction, with Fantasy, with Gaming, with Horror, with Pulp, with all the little islands men set themselves up as absolute rulers of despite all evidence to the contrary.

So let’s have a toast to the women in our lives who introduce us to our favorite nerd things, our geeky tv shows and movies and books and games. Let’s think of our lady friends and their recommendations and our history. Let’s remember each other with fondness and kindness and keep sharing our passion and love.

Women have been a part of every aspect of nerd culture since the very beginning. We aren’t going anywhere. But we’re bringing others with us.

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oursin: Text, nits, for picking of, lettered onto image of antique nitcomb from the Science Museum (nitcomb)
[personal profile] oursin

I've started the bio of Pamela Hansford Johnson and on the whole it is pretty good and has a nice readable style.

But really early on it did a thing that my dearios will recognise as one of those things that We Pedantik Hedjogs do not like at all, which is make an unsustainable statement intended to prove that their subject was a Very Speshul Snoflayk.

No, really, it is not a supportable hypothesis to say that if you read the bios of other srs women writers of the period their childhood is an account of upbringing in privileged surroundings and education by governesses rather than at local girls' grammar, how very different from childhood and adolescence in what was effectively, even before father's death since he was working in Nigeria, a single-parent family in the South London suburbs (Clapham).

To which I say, TOSH.

I will concede that Nancy Mitford, Vita Sackville-West, and E M Delafield would probably all count as upper class (though the situation of the latter is complicated by French father and Catholicism).

Virginia Woolf and Naomi Mitchison probably count as upper-middle/gentry, but the privilege there would probably be 'o hai we are the intellectual aristocracy' (but see Virginia on the educational opportunities meted out to 'the daughters of educated men' and Naomi's complaints about the governess she shared).

Antonia White - father was a school-teacher. Sent to posh convent school and we can see from Frost in May that there were serious class issues going on.

Stella Gibbons. Father was a doctor, but was a GP in a slum area and pretty much the model for the entire Starkadder family. Succession of governesses, whom her father habitually seduced, and then North London Collegiate School for Girls.

GB Stern. Father a wealthy businessman until the business the family was in went crash. Notting Hill High School, though also 'finished' in Germany and Switzerland.

Rebecca West. Father a journalist, who deserted the family when she was eight. Richmond High school, Surrey (1900–01), George Watson's Ladies' College, Edinburgh, supported by bursaries. Sense of downward social mobility compared to rest of family.

Pamela Frankau. Father left her mother. Boarder at Burgess Hill School for Girls.

Winifred Holtby. Prosperous farmer's daughter. Queen Margaret's School, Scarborough.

Elizabeth Taylor. Father insurance inspector in Reading. Abbey School in Reading.

Vera Brittain. Father a paper manufacturer. Grange School Buxton, then boarder at St Monica's, Kingswood.

I could go on.

And I will not even, no, wait, yes, I will, mention 'education in disease-ridden hellhole run by sadistic evangelicals, sisters died'.

(no subject)

Oct. 30th, 2014 07:54 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] boxofdelights!
selenak: (Charles and Raven by Scribble My Name)
[personal profile] selenak
Aka the siblings tale in the X-Men Movieverse I wanted to write for ages, for [profile] yetanothermask.


Longer than the road that stretches out ahead (5417 words) by Selena
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Raven | Mystique & Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr & Raven | Mystique
Characters: Raven | Mystique, Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr, Sharon Xavier
Summary:

Raven and Charles: the ties that bind when you grow up together and still remember the past in two different ways.

A tasting platter of linkspam

Oct. 29th, 2014 08:16 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Why do old musicians always think the kids have lost their way? (Not just ageing rockers, surely):

[W]hen people want to sniff at the inherent banality of modern media they almost inevitably fixate on cultural phenomena with predominantly female fan-base.
....
Your failure to pay attention... does not cause the rest of the world to wink out of existence.

(The latter might well make up into a nice sampler motto.)

Come back, Cabinets of Curiosities - feel that this is perhaps response to artsily over-curated exhibitions: A two-headed lamb and ancient dildos: the UK's strangest new museum.

Walk on the mild side: why Wild and Tracks turn the wilderness into a walk in the park:

These sightseeing, navel-gazing projects have a few traits in common. They leave the impression, in some cases, that the writers were thinking less about spiritual enlightenment than a hefty publishing deal.
We have, indeed, mused along these lines ourself.
The point is that when the protagonists of these films lace up their hiking boots (ill-fitting or otherwise), they’re not doing so for the good of mankind, or even the good of one other person. Their only goal is to cheer themselves up, and they’re fortunate enough to have the resources and the time to do it. What’s worse is that they see their majestic surroundings as a medicine that exists solely to treat their psychological ailments. They’re looking at mountains and forests, but they’re thinking of themselves.

Today's flashback to the 70s, when this was called Zero Population Growth: How to save the planet? Stop having children.

Ronald Hutton (fangirls madly) on Halloween.

The hidden world of rare plant theft: In January, an endangered plant was taken from Kew Gardens – only a few years after scientists saved it from extinction. Sam Knight investigates what happens when plant obsession turns criminal. Though I do rather think of Stephen Potter's recommended gambit for botanical gardens:

'Pyrenean Iris. Oh, yes, yes, yes, but terrible. Terrible if one has ever been overcome by the miracle of this thing bravely clasping the crevice of the perpendicular cliff-face at Luchesse - terrible to see it here, tamed and humbled by man.' I like and recommend this gambit.

Vampires, I swear...

Oct. 29th, 2014 08:06 pm
selenak: (Darla by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
The AV Club has posted their list of ten vampire centric tv series episodes; as they put it, they might not be the 10 best episodes, but they’re the 10 episodes that’ll help you understand what the show’s all about—without having to watch the whole thing.

Naturally, I found myself arguing with some of the choices for series I'm familiar with. Not in a "never! not this one!" way, on the contrary, these are good choices; in a "hm, I'm not sure this fits the criteria" way.

For example: Being Human (original UK version, naturally), season 2, episode 7, Damage: On the one hand, I can totally see their argument. Which is spoilery. )

My own choice would be episode 3.05 The Longest Day. And no, it's not just because my darling Nina has a central role in it. It examines what it means in this universe to be a vampire not just via Mitchell but via spoilery people )


Their choice for Angel is: Are you now or have you ever been? Again, I agree with their arguments : it stands on its own (i.e. is accessible for newbies), tells a self contained story while at the same time showing an important step in the main vampire character's development, and the paranoia demon as 50s metaphor works; indeed, as the poster says, the demon is hardly necessary.

Which is perhaps why it wouldn't be my choice. Angel being a vampire is not touched upon in the episode, either. That he's immortal, yes, but it would work just as well with, say, a Highlander type of immortal - and the episodes should say something about what this particular series makes of vampires, how it uses them. Spoilery objections and alternate choices follow nonetheless. )

No argument at all with Closer than Sisters for Penny Dreadful. Because Eva Green acting the hell out of everyone and Vanessa having messed up relationships with Mina and Malcolm so is what this show is about. :) What do you mean, there is no vampire activity at all in this episode?

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