Recommended: Da Vinci's Demons
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
My latest media obsession is Da Vinci’s Demons. And I bet many of you would like it as well. It’s a historical fantasia about the Italian Renaissance in general, and late 1480s Florence in particular. Our hero is a young Leonardo da Vinci, who is totally channeling the Robert Downey Junior version of Sherlock Holmes, while simultaneously playing Assassin’s Creed II. If the historical da Vinci ever made a speculative sketch of a gadget in his notebooks, you can be sure that Leo will eventually get around to building and using a working model of it on the show.

I say “fantasia” rather than “fantasy”, because the fantastic elements are fairly restrained. More than once, while reading wikipedia about one of the historical characters, I discovered that something I thought quite implausible was actually historically true. Or at least was riffing on something true. They do seem to have some form of psychic time travel going on, but even that is pretty restrained. Not that they feel married to historical accuracy. While most of the show’s events are at least strongly inspired by history, they are quite willing to fudge timing for dramatic effect. In season 1, this fudging can be up to a couple of years, and in season 2, they go up to a couple decades in at least one instance. But we are following the general outline of late 1480s world history.

And it is *world* history. While focused on Florence, various cast members travel surprisingly large distances due to plot exigencies. Most of the travel time is elided, but it does help explain why each relatively short season takes about a year of calendar time.

Being a cable show, it has quite a lot of sex and violence. Neither aspect seems particularly gratuitous, at least most of the time. I am happy to see that the treatment of characters as sexual beings is close to gender-equal. Indeed, there is one hilarious scene where what starts as a metaphorical dick-wagging display changes into a 100% literal one :-)

In addition to all the fun genre elements, the show has a serious political point of view. The first season’s tagline was “Free the Future”. The show explicitly takes the position that Leonardo (and Florence under the Medicis) are literally inventing the modern world that we now live in. And that this small spark of enlightened secular humanism is under constant threat from a variety of outside autocratic forces.

After watching the first few episodes, I liked the show, but was worried that it would jump the shark at any moment. That worry remains, as they seem determined to walk the edge of what they can get away with in terms of narrative plausibility. Yet (at least for me) they haven’t fallen off that edge yet. The middle of season 2 got a bit draggy, but the pace completely picked up again by the end of the season. And in the last episode, they dropped a bomb that they’d been keeping in their pocket for a long time, which totally recontextualized a major part of the show. Y’all should go and watch the show, so I can talk about it without it being a spoiler :-)
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Killing Fathers
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
I continue to curate and present my parents’ papers as a way of honoring and preserving their memories. And, in part, to assuage my own guilt at having been a less-than-perfect son. I find that, in that feeling, too, I am my father’s son.

Found in a printout of my father’s LJ entries, from the period immediately before mom’s death:

Private entry:
Daddy, daddy, don’t go! What did my biological father die of? I need to get a copy of his death certificate to find out for sure.
I’m a father-killer. When Harriet asked me, did I kill fathers, I said No, I didn't kill Bob, but she meant Ray.
Saturday, June 18,2005
A related document, found on his computer:

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Harriet and I discussed my father’s death again tonight. I’m writing this down so that I don’t “forget” it again.

In 1945, when I was two years old, my father Raymond A. Kay was sick and, as far as we know, spent some time at home – perhaps several months? -- preparing for an operation. He was 32 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall, and weighed in excess of 270 pounds. I believe that he was being hospitalized for a hernia repair operation, but I’m not sure of that. He died in December 1945 (I have one reference to 12/11/45 and another to 12/7/45), shortly after my own third birthday on November 20. The cause of death, I have always assumed, was complications (primarily peritonitis) of the hernia operation. Harriet recalls that Mom said at one time that Ray had had a heart attack, but I have no recollection of that myself.

The scenario that Harriet imagines goes something like this:

I’m two years old. My daddy has been at home more than usual, and spending more time with me. Then he is worried about his upcoming operation and perhaps spends less time with me, or is in a bad mood, or snaps at me, or something like that. Then he goes to the hospital and never comes back.

At three years old, I was just getting language skills and was in a very self-absorbed stage of life – in other words, I would have been making life hell for my parents, just as two-year-olds do. It’s not unreasonable to suppose that my father, worried or upset at the upcoming surgery, might have chastised me and told me to behave or else.

And then the “or else” happened. He didn’t come home from the hospital. And thus it must have been my fault, because I misbehaved. Therefore, I killed my father. Yikes! And it’s likely that, given my age and the tenor of the times, nobody would have talked to me about it. My daddy’s death would have been spoken of in hushed tones. And I would have every reason to go on believing that somehow it was my fault. Because kids tend to think like that.

The only memory I have of my father is an image of his body laid out for viewing in a coffin in the living room of my grandparents’ house. This is like a single photograph without a caption. So far as I know, I don’t actually have such a photograph except in my mind’s eye.
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The Major Arcana in One to Two Sentences
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Saw this at http://trickstertarot.tumblr.com/post/102955099221/the-major-arcana-in-one-to-two-sentences and just had to repost:
The Major Arcana in One to Two Sentences

The Fool: Now what?

The Magician: You should really do the Thing

The High Priestess: You should think about what happens when you do the Thing

The Empress: Here are the means for you to do the Thing

The Emperor: Here are the rules you need to follow to do the Thing

The Hierophant: You probably shouldn't do the Thing

The Lovers: I'm going to decide for myself if I should do the Thing or not

The Chariot: I'm gOING TO DO THE THING

Strength: Whoa there friend have some self-control while you try to do the thing

The Hermit: Observe how other people do the Thing and learn from this

Wheel of Fortune: HAAAHAAHA THIS SETBACK IS KEEPING YOU FROM DOING THE THING HA HAAAA

Justice: Maybe I deserved that for trying to do the Thing

The Hanged Man: Trying to do the Thing has fucked my life over what the shit

Death: Trying to do the Thing has changed me beyond all comprehension. I DON'T LIKE CHANGE

Temperance: I'm trying to get back how I used to be before I tried to do the Thing

The Devil: I DON'T WANNA DO THE THING I WANNA STAY HOME AND DRINK AND EAT TEN CHEESEBURGER WAAAH

The Tower: Everything I knew before I tried to do the Thing was a lie. I am completely changed

The Star: Maybe there's hope for me to actually do the Thing

The Moon: I'M NOT SURE IF I'M MAKING PROGRESS WITH DOING THE THING YET????

The Sun: Wow I may actually be able to do the Thing

Judgment: Looks back fondly on the Journey that I took in order to do the Thing

The World: I did the Thing

The Fool: Now what?

Speaking of Twin Peaks...
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
kestrell and I recently watched Twin peaks (a rewatch for me, first time for her). Seeing it in a post-Buffy world, one character looks very different. Nadine Hurley, unfulfilled shrew turned super-strong high school student, is clearly a Chosen Slayer Gone Wrong. Perhaps the Black Lodge intercepted her Watcher before he could get to her? Is the Black Lodge a kind of Hellmouth? Someone having prophetic nightmares in the town of Twin Peaks would hardly stand out at all, but without a Watcher, she might not realize that she should be acting on those nightmares.

This is now headcanon for me :-)
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Dream snippet
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Did you know that citizens of Twin Peaks are exempt from being drafted by the U.S. Government until the year 3009? It's true! Or at least, the mayor put up a big stone monument near Laura Palmer's grave claiming that he brokered such a deal.
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Dream snippet
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
I was in a Hogwarts-ian setting, only not so much 'magic' as 'weird'. I wasn't the Potter-equivalent, siderea was. Now in her third year, the administration had stopped trying to get her to do structured classes, as her self-directed study habits were keeping her well ahead of the curve, despite being frequently interrupted by adventures.

Hanging out in the dining hall with some other students, I and some friends were going through our piles of textbooks for the year. There was a large bee lurking nearby. Kind of scarily large, several inches long, though that wasn't remotely as large and scary as the hyperintelligent giant bees that siderea had defeated in her first year. But while we were distracted in conversation, somehow the bee managed to get a bunch of books into a discarded cardboard box, and start moving it down the hall.

I managed to upend the box, temporarily stopping the bee's theft. and then went and alerted siderea. At first she was annoyed at the seemingly-pointless interruption, but a quick examination of one of the history books the bee was trying to steal showed that the text on the page was changing as we watched. Clearly this was just the first(?) move in the Queen Bee's Time War!
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Russ Kay: Music
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
The last few bits of dad's legacy I put up on LJ involved sermons he gave at the UU church, largely music-based. The later documents I had by him were not just old scripts, but well-designed handouts. So, rather than OCR them, I've scanned them and put them up on my Facebook account.
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Exciting drug run
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
By "drug run", what *I* mean is a 3-block walk to Walgreens. Not sure that's what everyone else meant by it tonight... During that short walk, I counted 5 patrol cars, 1 police van, 3 unmarked police cars, and 2 police bicycles. And I probably missed some. Luckily, I seem to have ventured on my errand *after* the main part of the fuss was done, as all those police seemed quite calm. Something about "shots fired", but I don't know any details...
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The Addiction (1995)
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Yesterday, kestrell, teenybuffalo and I watched The Addiction (1995). It's a vampire movie, but quite a different one. It focuses on a young woman studying for her Doctorate in Philosophy at NYU. Her studies are interrupted when, walking home one night, she gets bitten and (she slowly realizes) Turned. She then applies her philosophical learning to the problem of coping with her new state of being, with... mixed results.

It's a black & white film, so there isn't much visual gore. There *is* some quite disturbing violence, but the impact comes from context and emotions more than raw imagery.

Vampires are, for once, *not* a metaphor for sex, but for the human drive ("addiction") to do evil. This is expressed on many different levels, ranging from the Holocaust to domestic abuse. (The others watching thought there were too many of these levels to cohere, but I thought it worked.) While the film is not 100% successful (the ending, in particular, confused all of us), it was very thought-provoking and prompted a long after-film discussion. I want to read a siderea review of it :-) (I'm not sure she'd *like* it, but I'm sure it would prompt interesting responses.)

Christopher Walken gets second billing, but he actually is in only one scene, though it is a doozy. It says something about how offbeat this movie is that, during the aforementioned discussion, I found myself describing Christopher Walken as "the voice of normalcy". It made sense in context, but is not something I would have expected to say about Walken.

Game development: The Writer Will Do Something
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
For anyone who has ever contemplated (or had) a career in mainstream game development, you need to check this out. A short, devastatingly accurate game about a typical late-in-production game design meeting. It's from the writer's point of view, but the experience maps to most other jobs equally well.

The Writer Will Do Something

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