Yesterday, PZ wrote about having read “Opera Vita Aeterna”, the novelette that was nominated for a Hugo Award this year in a bloc voting move. Coincidentally, I was reading some excerpts from Vox Day’s political writing elsewhere and marveling over the (lack of) quality of the prose. I thought that if his fiction were as awful, it might cross the line into unintentionally entertaining to read. And as I personally relate to him mostly as that sad, whiny pest who will be arrested like his father if he ever tries to return to Minnesota, reading his work in which his racism, sexism, and delusions of religious persecution weren’t the main focus wasn’t much of a chore for me.
So I went out and found a free copy. It turned out Day was inviting people to read the work by offering it for free. I’m not going to link his site from here, but it’s not too difficult to find someone who did from a search based on the story’s name.
As it turns out, the story was not entertainingly bad. Don’t let that lead you to think it was good, however. It was dully, prosaically bad, with rookie problems that most critique groups would point out if he gave them the opportunity. Of course, in order for that to be useful, Day would have to be able to respond to criticism with something other than atavistic hostility.
This means I can’t recommend reading his story for the same lulz you’d get from a Steven Seagal movie. I can, however, give you a taste of that experience and spare you any misguided curiosity. Continue reading “Reading Vox Day”
Note: This post contains an image you may not want to view at work. You can also read a pdf of the post with a description of the painting rather than the painting, produced for an art teacher who wanted to share this with their students. This pdf may be reproduced for use in an educational setting.
A few years back, John Scalzi wrote a blog post with a line that has made its way around the internet. “The failure mode of clever is ‘asshole.'” It’s a useful thing to remember on its own, but it’s even more useful in the context in which it was presented in the post.
1. The effectiveness of clever on other people is highly contingent on outside factors, over which you have no control and of which you may not have any knowledge; i.e., just because you intended to be clever doesn’t mean you will be perceived as clever, for all sorts of reasons.
2. The failure mode of clever is “asshole.”
It isn’t just that you really need to succeed at being clever. It’s also that clever is ridiculously difficult, because it’s a two-party interaction. You can put work and thought into being clever, you can test your material on other people first, and you can still find that your audience isn’t in the mood, has heard the joke too many times, has a sore spot under what you intended as a gentle poke, or just has a very different sense of humor.
While Scalzi is talking about dealing with strangers in this post, I’ve seen clever fail among friends for all these reasons too, particularly during times of stress. The difference in that case is that your friends are somewhat less likely to dub you an asshole for one failed case of clever.
Why do I bring this up nearly four years after Scalzi’s post? Because I’ve been chewing over a different case of failed communication in the last few days, and I realized that it can be generalized to a rule very much like the one Scalzi posited: The failure mode of naked is “objectification”. Continue reading “The Failure Mode of Naked”
I’ve mentioned before that I tend to think of Harley Quinn as my id (were ids real things). Thus, this made me very happy.
Off in a random corner of YouTube, I accidentally “discovered” mime dance. It had to be an accident, because I would never have thought this up myself. Not only did someone else think this up, but it caught on. There are thousands of these videos, and the vast majority of them appear to be religious videos. Some are several years old.
Watching them–and I’ve watched several now in fascination–I can see some continuity with the physical expressiveness of many gospel singers. I still have to wonder, though, how you move from that to the white makeup and gloves, lip syncing and dramatic literalism of mime dance. Articles and sites that talk about mime dance don’t seem to be very clear on its history. Rather they’re focused on its spread and on individual performers. I’d love to find out how it coalesced into its own form with its own traditions. Continue reading “How Does This Become a Thing?”
I’m a bit behind the times here, with my only excuse being that War Horse is not really my kind of story. If, like me, you still haven’t seen this puppetry, you need to watch this.
The making of the puppets is astonishing artistry in its own right.
Oh, how have I not seen this before?
One of the interesting things about “Cell Block Tango” is that it’s often read as being a celebration of the violence in it, particularly when taken out of the context of the full musical. I like this adaptation for the fact that it maintains the idea that these villains are heroes in their own stories, even if they’re not telling the stories straight.
Four months ago, I documented the fact that Sara Mayhew had libeled Rebecca Watson. The next day, I followed up by reporting her response to that documentation. Since that time she has continued to repeat the libel.
Yesterday, out of the blue, Mayhew decided to comment on that post to assert a copyright claim on her response.
You do not have permission from me, the artist, to download and repost my art. This is a commercial website and your use of the artwork in its entirety for non-educational purposes does not meet standards of fair use. Your reproduction has the potential to impair the market for this work, by hosting it on your server and therefore discouraging traffic to the original work.
Please delete the image from your server.
I’m careful about copyright issues here and decently educated on fair use, so I was pretty sure her claim was unfounded. I went back and checked anyway, because, you know, careful. Then I laughed, forwarded the notification of her comment to Ed Brayton because I tell him about even bizarre claims about the legality of what happens on his network, and responded. Continue reading “In Which Sara Mayhew Abuses Copyright to Harass”
So, you need to know something about actors. There are lots of reasons to get into acting. Some people enjoy the challenge. Some enjoy the attention. Some enjoy being good at the work. Some enjoy making art. Some enjoy making people happy. Some see the obvious next step in their celebrity career, and those people frequently suck at acting.
But for some people, the reward in acting is the chance to be someone other than who they are for a brief period of time. Being someone who isn’t them is better than the alternative. There’s very little in the culture or industry of acting that’s set up to solve that problem, just a lot set up to use it. “Entertain me, and I will pay you to escape for a short time.”
In order for this bargain to work, the actor has to be good enough to entertain us but not so good that we make them a celebrity. When an actor reaches the status of celebrity, we demand that they be “themselves” in order to entertain us. “Talk to this reporter and reveal something about the *real* you. Tell us what you *really* think. Tell us stories that allow us to feel that we know the *real* you.”
Don’t fall in love with those actors. Don’t make them celebrities. You’ll hurt them. They’ll break your heart.
Good luck telling which ones they are.
Thomas Dolby is currently on tour, and if you have any fondness for the man or his music, you’ll want to see this show. For that matter, if you have any interest in independent film-making, you’ll want to see this show. I saw it last night, and I’m still trying to process what I saw. This is slightly inconvenient, as the review I wrote of it is already online.
Dolby has made a film about the Suffolk coast where he grew up and now lives again, about being surrounded by history, about memory and story and impermanence. Then he left the film unfinished, so he can narrate and play it to small audiences with the help of a world-class sound designer.
And that is only one part of the evening in store for you if you go. Don’t miss it.
Isn’t he a beauty?
This image comes courtesy of Tessa Murphy. I’ve plugged Tessa before for her business, which used to be called Howling Pig. While I loved the name, the business is now Tessa Essentials and more accurately advertises what she does, which is make lovely scented soaps, lotions, and balms. Tessa is taking a Photoshop class and decided to make this charmer. He’s free for anyone to use. Just credit Tessa and give a link to her shop.
Now would also be a great time for anyone to consider starting their holiday shopping early, if that’s your thing. Tessa’s stuff makes great gifts, and she could use the income.
Via John McKay.