slipjig3: (Default)
Me, to me: "Why are you trying to recreate your LJ community circa 2007? It's 2019. High time you figure out what your 2019 community looks like."

So I ask you, dear readers: who should I be reading/following/befriending on Dreamwidth right now?
slipjig3: (orson welles)
[personal profile] hypnagogie and I have an now-annual tradition of attending AMC's Oscar Showcase, where they marathon all of the Best Picture nominees over two consecutive Saturdays (give or take Roma, because Netflix was totally passing AMC nasty notes in study hall or something so now they're not invited to the birthday party, Sheila). It's ridiculous amounts of fun, highly recommended if you're a movie fan, but it leaves me with a whole armload of opinions that have nowhere to go. My original plan was to do the old recap post thing in advance of the awards themselves, but the final movie finished screening less that 24 hours before the Oscars were to begin, and with the crunch on I decided to just let it go, telling myself I didn't really have many things to say.

Then the Oscars happened, and I now have things to say.

So herewith I present the 2018 Best Picture Nominees Wrap-Up post I neglected to write on Sunday, now with the smooth, fruity flavor of indignant hindsight:

Black Panther
I saw this in the theatre when it came out a year ago, and was blown clear out of my socks. I saw it again on Saturday and...well, it was still really good, but my socks stayed on. I think [personal profile] hypnagogie pegged it when she said that the first time we were awed by its newness, and once that newness no longer had surprise attached it lost some of its power. The areas where it truly innovates lie in the production design, the costumes, and the score, the parts that serve to evoke this magnificent place and culture; not coincidentally, these are also the areas where it deservedly won its Oscars. I also admire its willingness to look at race and isolationism head-on in a way that typical popcorn fare usually doesn't. Beyond that, though, it's a Marvel movie that does what Marvel movies do: you've got your hero's journey, your villain, your CGI fighty-smashy, your startling plot twists that stopped being startling eight movies ago. It does these things better than most, sure, and I think Black Panther is hugely important and am delighted it has been so enormously successful. But there's a growing superhero fatigue that's been sinking in over the last decade, and the awe that I felt the first time around didn't hold up enough on the second to completely silence it.

I wasn't expecting BlacKkKlansman to knock me out the way that it did. I'd heard that it was problematic, that it has a gratuitous opening and a savagely unsubtle ending, that Spike Lee's directorial voice comes in so loudly it's practically screaming. All of that is true, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's what makes Spike Spike, a man who has never had time to hold your hand while you catch up because there's a goddamn war on. When it's time to show you the racism, he shows it all, unflinching, staring it right in the face and not asking your permission before insisting you do the same. All this makes the film sound like a blunt force weapon, and it certainly can be, but the force is employed carefully, thoughtfully, and only when needed. This film is an example of nuanced and mature craftsmanship on every level: writing, direction, cinematography, design, acting (Adam Driver was robbed), music, all of it. What's more, it's entertaining—it takes this combination of one-line elevator pitch and deservedly righteous anger, and somehow makes it suspenseful, engaging, even funny (it has my vote for the greatest spit-take in modern cinema). I clearly haven't been watching enough Spike Lee lately, and I mean to fix that.

Bohemian Rhapsody
Man. I wanted to like this, really and truly. But never have I ever seen an Oscar-nominated film saddled with such a ham-handed, cliche-ridden, clanging-eyeroll-inducing, mind-numbingly bad screenplay. It's the sort of biopic that VH1 used to do in the '90s to bank on the success of Behind the Music. Speechifying about how Queen is "for the outcasts," making music that "crosses genres"? Check. A Conservative Father who doesn't understand his own son's art, who shows up just barely enough to set up a tearful reconciliation at the end? Check. Major Events consolidated to the point that, say, Freddie announces he's changed his name at the dinner where his parents meet his band and his soon-to-be wife, literally 30 seconds before receiving a phone call announcing they have a new manager? Check. A Visionless Record Executive who sneeringly proclaims, and I quote, "Mark these words: NO ONE will play Queen"? Check, check, and check. The whole film, in fact, is a checklist; it's like the filmmakers printed out the Wikipedia page and turned it into a storyboard. Milestones are presented not as milestones but as fan service: we're supposed to cheer in recognition, reveling in our knowledge of a future that the characters can't see yet. Freddie has trouble with the mic stand at his very first gig, so he rips out the boom and uses that as we all know he will for the rest of his career. At a label meeting he comes up with the album title "A Night at the Opera" on the spot after playing some opera as an example of, um, opera, I guess. Now let's all watch as *stomp*stomp*clap* is invented! We know it's going to be a classic! The confused people in the studio don't! Irony!

I get why the film is so popular. The music is wonderful, of course. Rami Malek does a fine job of bringing Freddie Mercury to life—not my pick for Best Actor, but if you're going to award something to Bohemian Rhapsody, he's easily the one you want to give it to. And it ends with the Live Aid sequence, which is exciting and well executed and as feel-good an ending as you're going to find, a perfect last word to take with you to the parking lot. But even there it left me wanting, because it didn't seem, well, real enough. The camera moves and drone shots felt like showing off. Scenes of the audience came off not like crowd of fans but crowd of paid extras, almost like a Pepsi commercial. And cutaways to Bob Geldof in the phone banks and the Visionless Record Executive alone and sad in his office became just more examples of screenplay bludgeoning. The Live Aid segment was great, but more than anything, it made me want to leave and watch the real Live Aid performance instead.

The Favourite
This is the one I was most looking forward to. If you've been avoiding The Favourite because you've already seen this kind of behind-the-throne intrigue-based costume drama: No. No, you haven't. If you've been avoiding it because Yorgos Lanthimos is a weird-ass little art-monkey provocateur...well, you're not wrong, but perhaps the weirdest thing about the film is how weird it isn't. I mean sure, it's got all of the lobster races and uncomfortable sex and grating background music you've come to expect from Yorgie-baby, but it's in service of a story that's surprisingly grounded. (This has a lot to do with the historical setting, I'm sure, which creates the sort of alien parallel world he likes to play in without having to force his actors to talk like they're reciting zip codes and avoid eye contact.) Give me the guy who ruined my week with Dogtooth, drop him in an 18th century castle, fold in dialogue you could dice tomatoes with, exquisite fondant-dipped visuals, and the absolute dream trio of Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, and yes, more of that please, and thank you. Of all the things I saw over those two weekends, nothing has stuck with me quite like that last scene [BIT OF A SPOILER] when Colman places her hand on Stone's head, and we watch as she (and we) slowly realize just what she's created for herself, and the bitter cost. Watch this movie, full stop.

Side note: [personal profile] hypnagogie showed me a tweet that said, "YOR-GOS LAN-THI-MOS, put another dime in the jukebox, babyyy," and now I'm earwormed for life.

Green Book
Raise your blast shields now, readers: NO. No, no, no, and fuck to the capital NO. Seriously, Academy, what in the name of great Hephaestus's nose clippers were you thinking? Of all the provocative, insightful, exceptional films that came out in 2018, even limited to those that got nominated, you're going to honor a backward, bland, mealy-mouthed puff piece on racism that shoves a fascinating real-life artist literally into the back seat, so you can focus on the Good White Guy Who Learns a Valuable Lesson But Also Has Something to Teach You About Blackness, Mister Actual Black Person? This is a Best Picture of 2018 that smells like a Best Picture of 1986, only it's not classic, it's downright regressive. It dances around its own race issues like its shoes are tied together; the protagonist displays one deeply grotesque passive-aggressive racist act in the first five minutes, and then the film goes out of its way to show that he's an all-right guy who just has a few misguided ideas, not like those racists they meet along the way. Whatever prejudice he's harboring is pretty much gone by day 3 of their road trip, so much so that when Dr. Shirley's sexual orientation is revealed, Tony, a blue-collar guy in 1962, greets it with a shrug, and it's never mentioned again. (To be fair, the explanation he gives for his calm response isn't unreasonable, but by then we're in the canonization part of the narrative, so he's only doing woke-person things now.) Even his more overtly racist family decides to get on board in roughly five seconds, because the happy ending demands it of them.

I know, I know, this isn't the only thing in Green Book I should be focusing on as a film lover. The direction is fine if not exceptional, the acting from Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali is as excellent as I'd expect from them, the score came from the same bottle they pour over pancakes at the craft services table. But we're well past the "everyone just needs to be nice to each other" narrative, people. I know movies like Green Book make us feel good, but we can do better. We can honor better. We have to. (For further reading, I highly recommend this Facebook post. Thanks to friend Laura for linking me to it!)

My gods, what a sumptuous wonder of a movie. I want to spend the next fourteen paragraphs describing any number of frames in minute detail (this is the sort of film you want to hang in your living room), but I think everything you need to know is in that very first shot behind the opening credits, with the paving stones, and then the water, and then the reflection in the water, and I swear to you that I gasped out loud at the simple breathtaking elegance of it. Both Alfonso Cuarón's direction and his cinematography won entirely on merit; if we're judging it in terms of pure filmmaking, then Roma should have won best picture of this year, next year, last year, and I'll call you if this string of years ever comes to an end. If there's one thing that kept it out of my #1 spot, though, and I'm just now realizing it, it's that even as intimate as the story is and as good as the acting is, I feel like I could've gotten to know everyone a little better than I did. Cuarón never leans in for the close examination, always keeping the camera at a voyeur's distance. It's part of what gives it such a unique visual identity, but it leaves us perpetually on the outside looking in, even when we're hanging out with the family in their own home. The only times we're allowed in are during the riot, which puts us in the line of fire but strangely isolated, and the utterly brutal hospital scene, where we share the most vulnerable of moments but are left helpless as we watch it unfold. This is also one of the few times Cuarón keeps the camera still, forcing us to bear witness; brilliantly done, but I wish he'd let us in a tiny bit more as the story goes on. Still, this is the sort of film that makes young people want to be directors, which is a high compliment indeed. I need to watch it again. Repeatedly, if possible.

A Star Is Born
Movie of the year. Fight me.

Seriously, this thing wields such an emotional wallop for me I don't even know where to start. I saw it when it first came out, loved it, saw it again, loved it even more, and here we are. I wrote a response on Facebook to my friend Michael, who questioned why anyone would remake this damn movie yet again, and I'm going to cut and paste it here because I don't think I'm going to say it any better than I did then: "Oh, it's a COMPLETELY ridiculous choice for a remake. The story was old-fashioned 50 years ago. Judy Garland's version should have been the last word, and Streisand's should have proved it. To choose it as your directorial debut in 2018 requires ten pounds of hubris in a five-pound sack. But I'm going to quote Roger Ebert here: it's not what a movie's about, it's how it's about it. What Cooper did was to take all the overblown melodrama and ground it, finding the characters under the caricatures. Jack and Ally are fully realized from the inside out, both through the screenplay and two phenomenal performances (yes, including and especially Lady Gaga), and their boots are firmly planted in the real world with chemistry to spare. Jackson Maine is an alcoholic, not a Hollywood drunk, which is a huge distinction, and he acts and reacts and evolves and devolves and charms and disgusts in ways we've seen people in our own lives act out. Ally is no ingenue, goes into this partnership clear-eyed and willingly, sets limits, loves without coddling. And when that downfall comes, absurd as it may have been in the past, he falls like an addict, not like the tragic script convenience we saw in James Mason or Kris Kristofferson. So many remakes are about honoring the story, or the memories we have of the story; Cooper makes it about these people, and truly remakes it into something new.

"One last thing, about That Scene: I'm a performing musician. There is a moment when you're onstage that's hard to explain to anyone who hasn't been there: it's when you stop being yourself and start being the music. There's a loss of control there, that giving of yourself to the shared moment, carried by the people watching and listening and those around you. It's terrifying and exhilarating, and you realize in the same moment not only that this song, this phrase, this breath, is so much bigger than the room you're standing in, but that you yourself are so much bigger, big enough to hold it and carry it. I'd never seen a movie completely get it right before. 'Shallow' does."

Meh. A good "meh," but meh. I loved The Big Short from a few years ago, loved the audacity, loved that it dared to teach from within an onslaught of directorial tricks and communicate outrage with a trickster's attitude. Now here's Vice, which attempts the same feat, only now the bag of tricks feels like...just...a bag tricks, and I can't enjoy the puppet show because I can't stop looking at the strings. When the tricks work, they really really work, like the final fourth wall-puncturing soliloquy and the closing credits running in the middle (pure genius, that one; you'll see what I mean). But when they don't, they really really don't, and I left feeling kind of manhandled by the whole operation. The performances were all spot-on, with an unfortunate tendency to drift toward impression rather than character. (Steve Carell is best one on screen for the second Adam McKay movie in a row, and for the second Adam McKay movie in a row he wasn't the one to get nominated.) I do admire the choice to examine Cheney's wish to protect his gay daughter from scrutiny and the sort of legislation his party was wont to pursue; it was a level of complexity that these sorts of operations often lack. All in all, I was glad to see it, and it's a good "meh," but it's still a "meh."

My rankings of the Best Picture nominees:
1) A Star Is Born
2) Roma*
3) The Favourite*
4) BlacKkKlansman
5) Black Panther
6) Vice
7) Bohemian Rhapsody**
8) Green Book**

* = Roma is a better-made film, but The Favourite is the one I'd rather rewatch.
** = Green Book is a better-made film, but Bohemian Rhapsody doesn't make me want to punch inanimate objects while cussing.
slipjig3: (Default)
[personal profile] hypnagogie and I visited our first marijuana dispensary in Maine a few weekends ago, which for a child of the Nancy Reagan era such as myself was an extended exercise in cognitive dissonance. Maine is fully pot-legal, but going to a dispensary still requires a medical weed card. CBD-related products, though, can be bought over the counter with adult ID, and [personal profile] hypnagogie has a chronic pain thing, so off to the hippie wilds of Ye Olde Down East we went to see if some CBD cream would help.

Nothing much to say about the experience, really, which might be the weirdest part of all—medical marijuana proponents are well aware of the image problem they need to throttle, so everything looked healthy (read: like a Minnesota Reiki studio) and smelled healthier (read: like getting groped by a lavender bath bomb). Aside from the ID check at the reinforced doors and a run across the street to the ATM because cash only, natch, everything ran Safeway-smoothly. That, and both customer service folks and the one other guy there all looked like the sorts who use "dude" as conversational punctuation, but that might just be southern Maine talking. Thing was, it was an unremarkable, quotidian transaction that took place at a cabinet with weed in it, which still feels wacky-alternative-timeline to me, the sort of thing in a Doctor Who episode that would make you yell at Russell T. Davies because come on, man. We stepped back into the parking lot with our little brown grocery sack, I looked around and went "...welp, that was a thing that happened," and thus ended the experience. Things change.

Report on CBD cream: didn't work. Booooooo.
slipjig3: (homesick blues)
I've been doing this on Facebook every three months or so, whenever I have a big enough influx of new music worth sharing, but since I'm trying to pivot away from the blue-and-white I figure I'll give you lovely DW residents first crack at it this time:

Who would like a custom-made Spotify playlist of your very own? Respond, please!
slipjig3: (weirdo)
1) Text sent to [personal profile] hypnagogie first thing this morning: "What does it mean when I dream that the screw top for the big hatch on the top of my skull has gotten gunky, so I have to unscrew the lid and walk around with my brain exposed while I try to find something safe to clean both the hatch and my brain surface, which has also gotten schmutzy due to neglect?" My subconscious has all the subtlety of a water buffalo on a Victoria's Secret catwalk.

2) Speaking of cleaning the gunk out of skulls, I had my first neti pot experience over the weekend, which despite my fears was much less "adventures in waterboarding" and more "bad day swimming at the Y." Worth it, though: two minutes of Dear Merciful Zeus Why Am I Doing This, five minutes of Post-Studio 54 Coke Binge Nose-Blowing, and then 12 hours of Holy Bugmonkeys I Can Breathe.

3) I still haven't watched the Netflix/BBC Watership Down. I have no reasonable explanation for this.

4) My creative cycle tends to consist of one project that occupies me body and soul for a week or two, then gets relegated to the back burner along with all of my other unfinished projects until I notice it down the line for another fortnight of obsession. As I type this I'm in the trough section of my creativity wave form, when nothing is poking my brain hard enough to command my attention and the pilot light of my work ethic. This either means I'm just about to latch onto something, or else I'm entering a gross protracted YouTube-and-pretzels-in-bed bummer phase. Since I'd really prefer to avoid the latter, I might just take a lug wrench to the issue and force myself to work on something. Most likely it'll be the Twine project that I was gung ho over a month ago, but we'll see how things play out. Watch this space.

5) The problem with a mild winter is that when the cold and snow finally do arrive, as they inevitably will, I don't feel as if I have the right to bitch about it.

6) Spilling chicken soup in your lunchbox makes peeling and eating clementines a weird experience.

Hope you're having a net-positive week, friends. This here's the downhill stretch.
slipjig3: (Default)
I remember this meme going around a decade ago, and never indulged, so. Courtesy of [personal profile] calliopes_pen:

1. Comment to this entry saying 'Ooo Shiny!' and I will pick 3 of your icons/userpics.
2. Make an entry in your own journal (or just reply if you prefer) and talk about the icons I picked!

Her three choices for me all fall in the pop reference continuum:

"Shrabster," the only episode of Sealab 2021 I ever watched, was a capital-T Thing in my social circle for long enough that I decided to create a handful of userpics from relevant catchphrases, such as "Sweet mother of holy fucking God..." and the immortal "Filet o' freakin' Fish, Dan." I intended this one to be used for flashback/reminiscence-type posts, but I don't think I ever actually did so.

From Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies, natch. I've got all 26, of which I've used six or seven over the years. Maybe I should be glad I've lived a life that's only intermittently Gashlycrumb-appropriate. Maybe I should make more of an effort. (Created by and borrowed from [profile] neitherday)

MR. BOOGALOW. People who have known me for any length of time, please be patient a moment whilst I proselytize to the newcomers: If you haven't seen the 1980 post-apocalyptic neo-Miltonian disco rock opera The Apple, hie thee immediately to thy viewing devices and rectify this immediately. Mr. Boogalow is our hissably bedazzled villain, the CEO of Boogalow International Music, symbol for all that is evil in corporate rock culture in The Distant Future (i.e. 1994), and quite possibly [SPOILER ALERT] actually Glam Satan. The song "I Know How to Be a Master" comes during a makeover montage that roughly only the 37th most ridiculous thing in this movie, so by all means let this light into your life forthwith.
slipjig3: (dürer rabbit)
Well, I've officially laid down some roots here in Dreamwidthland: I sprung for a paid account. [cue streamers and indulgent dancing] I did it for a bunch of reasons: to honor tradition (my LJ was paid for from day 1, back when you needed an invite code to get in free), to "give back," to support the continued existence of a tool that's rapidly becoming important to me, to get my mitts on that sweet, sweet user pic action. Also? To allow me to make polls again, because given the time so many of my dear ones are having right now I've wanted to bring back the following, which I used to run on the regular. So if you don't mind, please take a moment to answer:

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 14

How are you doing right now?

Right now, what is your greatest challenge?

Right now, what is your greatest joy?

Tell me something. Anything.

Hope you all are doing well. Carry on.
slipjig3: (Default)
Another Arisia has come, and another Arisia has gone, huzzah, forsooth and yea verily. And since my foray into long-form blogging has returned, so have many of my old blogging traditions, including the annual Cleverly Formatted Arisia Wrap-Up post. This usually requires identifying trends and the like, but my brain is still the texture of the coconut yogurt I accidentally left in the hotel fridge, so here, have a numbered list of random neural firings:

Click here for the whole business (ooh, I get to remember how to do paragraph cuts, too!) )

So now it's all over but the con drop, plus or minus whatever contagion I've so far avoided but is probaly lurking in my sinus cavity as we speak. It's a small event, I know, but I'm missing it already, so what'dya say we do this limited-range reality forfeiture again next year, huh? Who's in?
slipjig3: (Default)
Back in November I received a jury duty summons from the nearest U.S. District Court. Eyeroll, sigh, fine, I'll eat my civic duty while it's warm. Normally I'd hope for something fluffy, non-life-or-death, like an interesting property dispute or something; the U.S. District Court generally isn't in the fluffy law business, but this appears to be a civil rather than criminal suit, so hope springing eternal as always I crossed my fingers and wished for something not too awful.

There was a form to fill out and return, of course, but there was also enclosed a 30+ page questionnaire to be completed, presumably to streamline the selection process. I no longer have a copy to quote from verbatim, but please take a moment to try and picture my facial expressions as I flipped through it for the first time, as I discovered the questions below along the way:

Name, address, occupation, marriage status, number of kids, etc.

Blah, blah. Fine.

From what source(s) do you usually get information on current events?

You mean, am I a Fox News kinda guy? No, and no. Where exactly are you going with this?

Are you familiar with the movement known as Black Lives Matter?


Some people believe that because police officers' work is so dangerous, they should be given more leeway to act without fearing repercussions. Do you agree?

[covers eyes, reads through fingers] Ohhh, no....

Do you feel personal injury payments have gotten out of hand?

Oh god oh god oh god.... [hides behind couch]

So nope, totes not fluffy. And now I have a quandary, because I don't want to do jury duty any more than the next guy, but if I'm interested in justice I also don't want the next guy adjudicating a racially-motivated police brutality case. I've met the next guy, in YouTube comments and the like, and he scares me. In the end, though, I really don't have much control over whether I'm chosen to serve or not, because as this is a court document I have to answer honestly. Which I did: Have I ever participated in a public demonstration? Why yes, I marched at the Black Friday protest from Macy's to Times Square. Held a sign and everything.

On Monday I received the following email:

Dear [personal profile] slipjig3,

After your reviewing your questionnaire, the Court has excused you from jury service on [DATE]. We thank you for completing the questionnaire.

Clerk, U.S. District Court


The good news is, now I can enjoy Arisia without having to worry about choosing a tie the next morning. On the flip side, I'd like to send the following personal message to Mr. John Q. Next Guy, Federal Juror in Good Standing: Don't screw this up. Don't make me come down there.
slipjig3: (Default)
[personal profile] fiddledragon is officially nominated for sainthood: she voluntarily surrendered most of her Saturday to take her van down to Providence, pick up [personal profile] hypnagogie's mattress and box spring, and haul them all the way up to Brunswick, Maine. This was very much a mission of mercy, as [personal profile] hypnagogie recently learned her borked-up shoulder has been the result of a six-years-undiagnosed torn rotator cuff, and the bed that came with her rented room (I'm searching for a diplomatic way to phrase this) sucks hairy man-ass. Like, "a comparably sized pile of Reddi-Wip would provide more back support" levels of suck, that's what I'm saying here. The one that got hauled up on Saturday is like memory foam only better, and allows her to sleep without wanting to take hostages when she finally wakes up. Out with the old, in with the new, and all that.

I was already in Brunswick when the bed arrived (see previous entry for details on birthday dinner and didImentionIgotasmokingjacket), and the plan was to haul the old bed downstairs before [personal profile] fiddledragon arrived, in the interest of streamlining the process. I'd assumed that the blob mattress of blobbishness would be the challenging part of the operation, especially since the journey involved a staircase that turns twice followed by a trip through the kitchen and out to the storage room, but that bit turned out to be not too awful. The box spring, however, was...problematic. The item itself turned out to be what you might charitably call "vintage," hailing from the days when the "box" in "box spring" really meant something. We're talking the sort of thing where an accidental drop on your toes earns you a Vicodin script at the ER: hardwood 2x4 construction, weighting roughly the same as the 2004 defensive line of the Indianapolis Colts. When the power grid goes down during the upcoming Apocalypse, this sumbitch will be the first thing they chop up for firewood. Also, let's review: torn rotator cuff.

Luckily, [personal profile] fiddledragon arrived in time to help with that part, which was completed with only a tiny bit of damage to the ceiling plaster, and then it was time to move the new stuff in. This was a good news/bad news situation, because on the one hand, the mattress was considerably lighter and the box spring disassembled into easy-to-carry components, but on the other, (1) up the stairs instead of down, and (2) no handles on the mattress. My thumbs are still not speaking to me, but all in the end is well, and [personal profile] fiddledragon is awesome, and [personal profile] hypnagogie is much less inclined to get out of bed in the morning for all the best reasons, and yay.

That was the main excitement of the weekend, which was otherwise largely taken up by lounging and avoiding the single-digit temperatures that Maine likes to face-punch its residents with. [personal profile] hypnagogie and I took the time to reconnect—if you haven't done one of these in a while, yes, long distance relationships still blow, and Skype can only do so much—and it felt like we'd leveled up somewhere along the way. In any relationship there are those conversations/discussions/arguments that keep happening over and over again, where you can only hope to chip away at the central Thing over time; we revisited a couple of those, only we'd somehow managed to filter out the noise and get right to the signal. Truths felt heard, rather than just brushed against, a gift of time passing or of wintering in or maybe just of us being us for so long. Time was far too short because it always is, but I'll take what we have.
slipjig3: (Default)
I've been away from the blogging game for so long, I'd forgotten that "so much to say, so little brain to say it" sensation that pops up after 10 pm. on the Friday of a chock-full-o'-nuts week of wonders. It's worse knowing that since I have been away for so long, I feel like I have to back-story everything so much that it hardly seems worth the trouble. As a storyteller, I make up for my lack of ninja fights and opium soirées with a matching lack of narrative brevity. This is why I can't open with something simple like, "I'm sitting in Brunswick, Maine with [personal profile] hypnagogie right now," without feeling it necessary to explain that I still live in Providence while she's in Maine finishing her post doc and I see her every other weekend and and and. Just because I sometimes live in perpetual nested flashbacks doesn't mean I need to splatter them all over my journal and expect the world to keep up.

So let me cut to the chase: Birthday week! Yes, mine! 48, if you must know, but I don't feel a day over...well, over 62 at the moment, for reasons that will become apparent in a bit. Birthday proper was Monday, which is almost as much of a drag as a birthday less than two weeks after Christmas, but I treated myself better than Mondays usually warrant, which was enough for the time. The real celebrations came later:

Wednesday: [personal profile] blissmorgan shares a birthday with me, and for years we've been swearing that this will be the year we get together and celebrate somehow, followed by hemming and hawing against the background drone of mildly annoyed crickets. But this year I think we were both feeling an exceptionally focused need to get the hell out of our respective houses and into good company, so we not only made actual plans, but we actually followed through. We settled on bowling at a place halfway between Bliss!House and Adam!House, which we quickly discovered serves up a light show and either disco or '90s alternative depending on who's controlling the knobs, so it made it harder to concentrate but much easier not to care that we were bowling solidly two-digit totals. (Neither of us had done this in years, which explains not only the "are you sure this isn't golf?" scores we were nailing, but also the fact that we are hurting in places we weren't aware we had places two days later. I'm not convinced I didn't throw out my first hip, hence the "day over 62" crack back there. From there we sought food at the kind of local restaurant that serves Reubens and liver & onions and burgers named after regular customers from the '50s, where we ate well and adored our waitress and had the most amazing conversation that led directly to me opening this DW account. Bliss wrote up the event far better than I ever could on her own journal (complete with snappy bowling ball glamour shots), so do pop over there, but suffice it to say that it was precisely what I needed in so many more ways than one. Thanks again, Bliss, and let's not wait so long next time.

Friday: I left for Maine straight from work, a 2 1/2-hour drive that's 2 1/4 hours longer than my bowling-ravaged joints were prepared for, but it was so very worth it as [personal profile] hypnagogie and I convened at the Brunswick Tavern for my official birthday meal. Their head chef has a contract out with someone from the demon realm, because good Lord. Pork belly with applesauce, steamed mussels, an amazing lamb shank for me and a steak for her that was so tender you could plant tulip bulbs in it without benefit of a trowel. We topped it all off with a bourbon-butternut cheesecake the consistency of gentle sleep that she described as "if pumpkin pie were made of God." I could go on at great length about the food and the connectedness that an exceptional meal shared can create, but I want to skip ahead to where she gave me the present she'd been dying to give me for weeks: she got me a smoking jacket, people. A SMOKING JACKET. Black velour with silver-and-black piping, perfectly lined and pocketed, and it even goes perfectly with the purple Thai fisherman's pants that are my new pajama bottoms. Ladies and gentlemen, I no longer sit—I lounge. Sybaritically, with a rake's practiced moue and a leisurely eye-fuck gaze that coos, "Hello, dahling, don't be shy. Welcome to Raymundo." It's perfect in every way. Thank you again, hon. A++++, would marry the hell out of again. (And yes, I'm bringing it to Arisia, and yes, I'm wearing it to the con suite at one in the morning.)


Remind me, how do you end blog posts again? It's like this, isn't it? Just kind of trailing off when you don't feel like typing any more?
slipjig3: (Default)
Sometimes it takes a while: I've finally migrated from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth. Formerly slipjig at the LJ mothership, now slipjig3 at DW because somebody at the new place sharked the name and then left the journal sitting there as a paperweight. If I knew you in the hinterlands of that past life, feel free to comment and say hello. If I didn't, feel free to comment and say hello. Hi.

I've missed this. I don't mind saying so.
slipjig3: (piggie)
I'm officially pulling the trigger: the Eleven Assembled newsletter is now officially a go! Subscribers will receive a weekly write-up of eleven songs (nice round number): new, old, alternative, folk, whatever other genres sneak through my earholes and grab my attention—in short, whatever music I'm obsessing over that week. If you've gotten a mix CD from me in the last five years or heard the Sleight of Hand radio show when that was still a thing, you know what you're in for, and if not...well, it's free, so do as thou wilt, kind adventurer.

You can subscribe at the newsletter's signup page at I plan to have the first email and the first eleven songs out on Wednesday. Hope to metaphorically see you there. (Note to [ profile] gows: TinyLetter automatically archives everything. Score!)
slipjig3: (piggie)
Getting a feel for public interest before I sally forth:

I've been missing doing a radio show lately, especially because I've been accumulating stuff that I'm dying to introduce people to (as is my wont). Unfortunately my work schedule doesn't fit any of the available airtime slots at the Internet station I was on, and my blogging track record means an mp3 blog would probably crash and burn. However, I have an idea: a Spotify playlist, updated weekly, consisting of whatever songs I would be playing on a radio show if I had one, and accompanied by an opt-in email newsletter with liner notes for each song to stand in for DJ patter.

Does this sound like a viable plan? Would you be interested in subscribing to either playlist, newsletter or both if I went ahead with it? Thoughts?
slipjig3: (piggie)
Behold, I am Slug. Sleep was not in the cards for me last night as I was hanging with kids and grandkid in western MA, where there was a lack of needed air conditioning and a two-year-old with a fondness for kicking me in the ribs. I followed it up with a burrito for dinner that had some sort of personal vendetta with my GI tract that I don't have details on, and so yes, a Slug I am. [ profile] rain_herself, meanwhile, is dealing with some horrible coughing thing that has decided to make her stop breathing from time to time, which she can battle with prescription medicines that work great at making her forget any and all problems due to sleeping through them. It's Jim Bob's House o' Slug, is what I'm saying. We're dealing by couch-forting it in the guest bedroom, lounging on pillows and keeping the Chips Ahoy within arm's reach.

Still, there is much to be happy about:

  • I finally submitted a crossword to Will Shortz at the New York Times for the first time in years, and I just heard back: it's been accepted for publication. Cue the confetti and Dixieland jazz! I had walked away from crossword construction because I felt like I couldn't make it work, but this has gifted me with the will to carry on with the hobby a while longer. It's my first ever themeless sale, too, which was my main goal for the longest while. (Themeless puzzles have a lower word count maximum, 72 for a 15x15 grid as opposed to 78 for a themed one, which makes them a throbbing pain in the arse to complete well.) It'll be a Saturday run most likely, with a date to be determined closer to publication.

  • Murder Ballads tech rehearsal with [ profile] cluegirl went swimmingly. We both broke out the effects pedals to go with the amplification we were working with, and it was one of those rare moments when I actually felt like the rock star some people joke about me being. There's a song that's going to be on our next album called "The Call" (we do it in concert these days) that we did up with guitar and bass electric pedals and a rock drum loop that...just...yeah, lemme bottle that, would'ja?

  • Speaking of Murder Ballads, we're confirmed for a performance at Arisia this January. Hope to catch you all there!

  • Going back a few weeks, I went to karaoke here in Providence with [ profile] felisdemens, [ profile] we_happy_few, [ profile] mianathema, and He Whose LJ Name I Don't Know But Who Requires Mention Because He Did NIN's "Closer" With a Hand Puppet. I did two, "A Girl Like You" by the Smithereens and "Flathead" by the Fratellis, and didn't lose consciousness once. I never expected to hear "Nessun Dorma" in a bar, much less hear it done well. A good night.

Back to work tomorrow, where we're still weathering the aftermath of the new post-merger reorganization charts. I still have a job, so...yay?
slipjig3: (piggie)
With any luck, I'll be done with this ask me anything deal just in time for St. Patrick's Day! So, forging ahead, [ profile] winterlitwings asked me the following:

The scariest film you've ever watched?

Unfortunately, I'm kind of the wrong person to ask this one, because as some readers of this will attest I don't really do horror. I have a standard answer as to why, but the more I ponder the question the more I realize that the actual answer isn't quite what I'd thought. For the longest time it broke down to two parts:

1) Being scared isn't fun for me. True that, but considering the number of "20 scariest scenes of all time" YouTube videos I've voluntarily watched over the years, I don't think this one is as true as I'd assumed. Yes, my hands might be over my eyes, but I'm doing the peer-between-my-fingers bit.

2) I have a low tolerance for gore. Also true, rather more of an issue, and the principle I use when asking friends if I should go see X movie, but there's a general assumption that my gore tolerance threshold is a lot lower than it actually is. Blood, for instance, doesn't bug me in the slightest (Kill Bill Vol. I, which single-handedly kept the squib business in the black for years after, was a breeze for me). Viscera are much more hit-or-miss in terms of being able to deal, but if that sort of thing pops up unexpectedly I either cringe hard or just close my eyes, then keep going—I made it all the way through Shaun of the Dead with no issues, and even after the one scene I found excessive for my tastes, my reaction at worst was, "EWW! That was excessive!" Similarly, the cat scene from Dogtooth made me wince, but the rewatch went fine. Aside from a few hard-limit squicks like cannibalism, I have the feeling blaming my horror aversion entirely on gore is missing the mark a bit.

Which brings us to the only-recently-realized 3) Torture and excessive cruelty will drive me out of the room. Not that people are injured and dying, but that they're injured, dying, and terrified, and it's met by sadism or (worse) indifference. This is the bit that I cannot get around, and it's the one that annoys me no end, because it not only keeps me from most if not all horror, but a bunch of other stuff as well. It's why I haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth or more than the first three minutes of Slumdog Millionaire or even flippin' Deadpool. It's why I'm the only person in my office who'll have nothing to do with Game of Thrones. As a film lover, knowing that there are whole swaths of great films that I'll never see because of this one bit of crawliness bugs the living pudding out of me.

Okay, so after all that blather, I never did answer the original question. I do occasionally watch horror if it's interesting-looking and not torture porn or notoriously nasty, and whether I find it especially frightening is largely context-dependent; take, for example, my attempt to watch The Shining at midnight alone with the lights off. (I didn't make it.) In that capacity, I think the winner is Aliens, because during the scene where Ripley and Newt are trapped in the closed lab with the alien spawn scuttling about somewhere unseen, my then-wife Kristi decided to affectionately brush the back of my neck with her fingernails. I full expect that her continued non-murdered breathing existence earns me at least a year off of purgatory.

Also, I really want to see The Witch. Just putting that out there.

Want to ask me something? By my guest!
slipjig3: (piggie)
Look at the clock calendar! It's time to start answering questions from the "ask me anything" post of two weeks ago! [ profile] meowmensteen asked me this:

Do you have any awkward childhood photos you can share?

Hoo boy. Okay, first of all, by "awkward childhood photos," you mean "childhood photos," because I was a goober of epic proportions for a desperately long time. And yes, of course there are photos out there, but nothing in digital format; I do have a few photo albums that go all the way back, but they're packed up and not easily accessible at the moment. So I'm left with Facebook photos posted by others, which only go back to high school but which, I think, illustrate the problem a little too well:

This was taken at the wedding of my friend Tanya, seen here with me and our pal Aaron. I'm the middle school LINUX programmer/serial killer on the left, the one with the half-assed Ohio Congressman hair part, the waffle-sized glasses and that borrowed freedom-of-speech test case of a tie. I was 19, people. I was nineteen years old when this picture was taken, an age when I was a legal adult and really should have known better. The fact that I had any friends at all to take the photo with in the first place is a testament to the eternal human something or other, because my first reaction on seeing me back this is always "...oh, you poor thing...."

So, there you have it. I like to think I do a little better nowadays. Perhaps not better enough.

More answers to follow. Also, I'm still taking questions! Hit me up!
slipjig3: (piggie)
What will you forgive yourself for today?
slipjig3: (weirdo)
[ profile] mcmurphy79 has leveled the dare, and as I am at the moment bored off my tuchus, I say what the hell. Cutting and pasting from her post:

"I've been pretty shit at LJ. So........... Ask me any question(s), however many you want, and I'll answer them in subsequent entries. I'll let this run for a few days or a week, so ask me as many questions as you want about anything you want."

(My additions: Replies are screened. I will answer all questions, but I reserve the right to filter said answer if I feel said question is not for public consumption.)

My feet are planted and my loins girded. Have at me.
slipjig3: (gashlycrumb neville)
So it would appear that I'm dealing with a bout of depression. Swell.

The weird part is that I didn't even really notice until recently. My past bouts with the D-word were of the all-encompassing, flesh-eating variety that we all know and fail to love. The last truly serious one lasted for about a year, and only ended with some superhuman patience from those close to me and the most literal force of will I have ever applied to my emotional state. This round looks nothing at all like that one did, or the one after my last divorce, or the one back in high school; my lows just don't seem to get that low anymore. But when you notice that you're not talking to people or doing things, which you've been blaming on being too tired from your long commutes except that now your self-awareness Clippy icon is pointing out that you haven't typed "Hi!" in that friend's chat window because you're afraid of hello...well. Shit. Wasn't counting on that one.

So yes, I'm working on improving things, and yes, there will be a therapist, and yes, I'm keepin' on keepin' on, and as stated, no, it's not even close to as bad as it could be; my main response to the discovery has been, "...huh. That 'splains some things...." I just wanted to pop in here and raise my banner for reckoning's sake, in the hopes on creating some sort of inertia. Also, I missed my 14-year LJversary last week, which I shall file under the heading of "a drag, man" and carry on

Also also, apologies for my sporadic presence over the last month. What'd I miss?

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