The Cheese Theory of Adaptations

Mar. 28th, 2017 03:05 pm
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[personal profile] swan_tower

My sister and I went to see the Power Rangers movie this past weekend.

You may think this was due to some nostalgia on my part. It’s not: I never watched the show, never had any of the toys, only vaguely knew it was a thing. My previous attachment to Power Rangers was nil. But the trailer looked fun and I’d done a whole lotta adulting over the previous couple of days, so off we went, even though my sister said that “everything Haim Saban touches is covered in a layer of Cheez Whiz.”

This led to us formulating the Cheese Theory of Adaptations.

At the low end you have something like the G.I. Joe movie. Was it cheesy? Yes — but it wasn’t good cheese. In fact, it was pre-sliced American cheese, and we’re not even sure the film-makers remembered to take off the plastic wrapper before offering it to us.

On the high end you have the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Which is also incredibly cheesey — but you find yourself saying, “dude, is this gruyere?” We’re talking high-quality cheese here, folks. The sort you can eat without feeling ill afterward, and even want to eat again.

The Power Rangers movie isn’t gruyere, but my sister and I agreed that it’s a good, decent cheddar. The weakest part of it was the obligatory Mecha Smash Fight at the end; by putting all the heroes into mecha, you restrict 90% of their opportunities to act, because the close-up shots of them mostly consist of them talking and then being shaken around their cockpits. But the good news is that the mecha part only comes at the very end of the movie, because the writers were far more interested in spending time on character development. These Power Rangers are a bunch of messed-up kids, and they aren’t able to “morph” (manifest their color-coded suits of armor) or control the mecha until they sort out some of their messes. That runs the risk of being pat — an After-School Special kind of story — but it isn’t, because “sort out” isn’t the same thing as “get over.” Nobody learns a Very Important Lesson and is thereafter rid of all their issues. Resolution comes in the form of honesty, of admitting they’ve got problems and trusting one another with their secrets. It lends weight to the idea that they have to work as a team; you can’t do that when you’re afraid to show your true self to your teammates, very real warts and all.

And there’s something to be said for throwing your entertainment dollars at a movie that shows a broad cross-section of the teenaged world. The Red Ranger and team leader appears to be your usual whitebread sports hero (and in the TV series that’s apparently what he was), but he’s got a history of sabotaging himself in disastrous ways; the introductory scene ends with him wearing a police-issued ankle monitor after a high-speed chase and subsequent wreck. He’s the only white member of the team. The actress playing the Pink Ranger (whose color palette has shifted closer to the purple end of the spectrum) is half-Gujarati, and her character is in trouble for having forwarded a sexually explicit photo of her friend to a guy at school. The movie shifts things around so that the black character is no longer also the Black Ranger; he’s the Blue Ranger instead, and on the autism spectrum, while the Black Ranger is Chinese-American and taking care of his seriously ill mother. Finally, there’s been a fair bit of press around the fact that the Yellow Ranger (played by a Latina actress) is the first LGBTQ superhero in a feature film.

So like I said: a good, decent cheddar. The characters are vivid and interesting, their problems feel very real, and the resolution on that front isn’t too tidy or simplistic. The villain and the throwdown with her are the least interesting parts of the whole shebang, but they don’t take up too much of it overall. It was a fun way to spend my Sunday afternoon.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
GoT random musings with spoilers (at least for published books). Now I'm going to witter a bit so the spoilers don't go into the first few lines. So, pumpkins are really quite ridged and orange, aren't they?

Read more... )

Yes, I Still Get Rejections

Mar. 28th, 2017 05:12 pm
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[personal profile] jimhines

A while back, I posted something on Facebook about a rejection I’d received on a project. I was a bit taken aback when several people offered to “have a talk” with the editor. Others questioned the editor’s mental health for rejecting a Jim Hines story. It was flattering, in a way — I love that I have fans who are so enthusiastic about reading new stuff from me — but I think it might also reflect a basic misunderstanding.

Rejections are part of the job. They don’t suddenly stop when you become more successful. They’re less frequent, yes. Much less frequent, and my own mental well being is unspeakably grateful for that. But with the possible exception of folks like Rowling and King, we all risk rejection when we write.

Over the past year, I wrote a short story for an anthology that got cancelled. Another editor said they were interested, so I sent the story their way. They read it, said some nice things, and rejected the story. And they were right to do so.

I’ll be honest, I would have loved to sell a story to this particular editor and venue, but the story I had written didn’t match the tone and style of the venue. I appreciate them taking a chance on reading the story, but they have every right to turn it down. It’s their job to turn it down. Because it wasn’t the right story for them.

I have another project my agent has been shopping around. We’ve gotten some very nice rejections, generally saying things like it’s not quite right for that particular line, or it’s close but this or that or the other didn’t work for them.

In a slightly older example, I had a friend reject me because the story I’d written utterly missed what they were looking for in the guidelines.

Does it still sting? Sure. Twenty-two years into this, I still hate getting rejections. But I’m not unrealistic enough to think every word I write is made of gold and perfectly-suited to all editors and publishers in the world, bar none. Sometimes I’m able to sell the rejected work elsewhere, to an editor/venue that’s a better fit. Sometimes I’m not.

That’s how the business works. Even after 12 books and 50+ short stories in print. Not because the editors are misguided or wrong or blind to my brilliance, but because they’re doing their jobs.

As someone who’s currently on both sides of the desk (co-editing Invisible 3 with Mary Anne Mohanraj as well as continuing to write my own stuff), let’s keep in mind that being a good editor is hard, just like being a good writer.

As for those rejections? I recommend three things.

  1. Get the story back out there.
  2. Keep working on the next one.
  3. Eat ice cream as necessary.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

hunningham: Woman peering out from a book (More with Reading)
[personal profile] hunningham

I have been reading Silas Marner by Eliot and because this is the Penguin Classics edition, and because it is a short novel, there are about forty pages of introduction. Which I have not read.

There are also about fifteen pages of notes. Which I have read, and which I have enjoyed hugely. They are lengthy and digressive, as the best notes always are, and the writer has much to say about dissenting sects in the nineteenth century.

For example:

Beatrice Webb, a professional social investigator, concluded that the Co-operative Societies and the Trade Unions, the Friendly Societies and the Labour Party, owed everything to the training that the chapel form of worship provided for the working-class (see Chapter 3 of My Apprenticeship).

I did not know this. It makes perfect sense.

What does this remind me of?

Mar. 28th, 2017 08:21 pm
oursin: My photograph of Praire Buoy sculpture, Meadowbrook Park, Urbana, overwritten with Urgent, Phallic Look (urgent phallic)
[personal profile] oursin

Yet another case in which a bloke who has committed significant violence against a woman, of which there is no possible doubt, walks free (well, suspended sentence) apparently on the basis that it would ruin a promising career if he went to jail. (Which it does turn out he was somewhat less than truthful about.)

And okay, I have been seeing these sorts of cases for a very long time now, and one might even have hoped that this sort of thing would have come to an end -

And we note that it is very, very rare for anyone in the legal system or even in the reporting, to express any concern over the damage done to the woman's potential through injuries, long-term effects of trauma, etc.

So, I was thinking about this, and what came to mind was a famous 'gotcha' argument popular among the anti-abortion forces c. 1970 or so, which was to posit a particular case of mother with several children, family straits, disease, and when anyone remarked that it seemed a clear case for termination would go 'aha! you have terminated Beethoven!' (there may have been other instances: that is the one I remember).

Because women's lives have no value except for the male offspring they bear... (though statistically, very few of those are going to be Beethoven*).

A thought which would have led me to hurl against the wall, except that they were library books, far too many works of sf/fantasy in which a woman underwent various adventures and travails and this was not to fit her for her own role as The Chosen One, it was to get her in place to bear The Chosen One.

*Given all the relative advantages in terms of education and parental investment, relatively few men have ever been Shakespeare/Newton/Beethoven/etc. I will also reiterate here my argument that Great Male Leaders were not necessarily able to outwrestle all the men they lead, it was not about simply physical superiority.

New-old games

Mar. 28th, 2017 08:27 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I took a couple of days off so I could have a four-day weekend, and didn't commit myself to excessively many social things, so I was able to spend lots of time gaming.

reviews )

Things I remember from the strike

Mar. 28th, 2017 02:16 pm
katsu: (Default)
[personal profile] katsu

I grew up in a union house. My dad was a chief steward in the CWA (local 7750). I remember there being one strike (and the threat of others) when I was growing up. Looking at the CWA history, I’m pretty sure this is what I remember:

1986: Post Divestiture Bargaining

1986 presented CWA with its first negotiations with the post-divestiture telephone industry. Twelve years after CWA had achieved national bargaining, the union was forced back to the old multiple table way of bargaining. CWA had to bargain not only with AT&T, but with the independent RBOCs and their subsidiaries. National bargaining had been replaced by 48 different bargaining tables.

In the AT&T negotiations, the company attempted to take back health care benefits, lower clerical wages, and eliminate cost of living adjustments obtained in earlier contracts. CWA had no choice but to strike. The strike lasted 26 days and AT&T agreed to provide wage and employment security improvements and retain the health care benefits intact. Although the negotiations with the RBOCs were also difficult, they were less contentious than those with AT&T. Strikes were necessary against some of these operating companies, but none lasted more than a few days.

So I was five going on six at the time. Needless to say, my memories aren’t that sharp or specific. But things I do remember?

  • Going with my dad to where the everyone met and getting food for our house. Also getting my fingernails and toenails painted because I was wearing sandals. I’m pretty sure this is from the strike, but don’t quote me.
  • Learning what “scabs” are, and that they’re bad. Well, of course they’re bad, I thought. Scabs are pretty gross, and you pick them off and flick them away, and then whats underneath is all gross and oozy. Why would you want to be like a scab?
  • My parents not wanting to buy things or spend money because they didn’t know how long the strike would last.
  • Having a play picket line with my older brother outside our house, because we saw dad with his sign for the picket line. My brother had a sign on a stick. I had a little sandwich board sign made with poster board and string.

That’s honestly it. When you’re that young, things don’t impact you the same way. And I think my parents worked hard to make sure we didn’t really know what the financial situation was like… because you try to keep your kids out of those worries until they’re too big to hide.

I was a member of the CWA for the just shy of six years that I worked for AT&T, later. There was one time when we had a strike vote–I voted yes, but at the time a lot of my coworkers argued with me, because they thought the union was pointless and what they were going after wasn’t worth a strike. I had my doubts at the time (I was young and stupid and that’s a whole other blog post – and I also didn’t have much of a strike fund saved up, so that was scary too) but I was glad about being union later when I needed my rep to sit in a couple meetings between me and my supervisor. And I was weirdly glad that because of the union, I knew when my job was on the layoff chopping block, because I was low on the seniority list. I’d rather get let go for that than because I didn’t suck up to my boss sufficiently.

Anyway.

This post brought to you by me taking a break from writing about the Ludlow Massacre and feeling angry. And because the WGA West has asked its membership for strike authorization and I’m already seeing people (who aren’t writers) bitching about it because they don’t want their TV shows interrupted when the world is a fiery political hell pit.

People don’t strike because it’s fun. It disrupts your life in ways you can’t imagine and can fuck you over financially even if you win in the end. People strike because the companies never stop trying to push workers further down the hole. Because it’s the only way the workers have to defend themselves from a line getting crossed. So I’m sorry if it inconveniences you, but the writers (or communications workers, or electricians, or truckers, or grocery store workers or…) aren’t the ones you should bitch at. The bosses trying to kill them by inches are.

It’s not greedy to want a decent life for yourself and your loved ones, and it’s not out of line to want your labor (and writing is labor, fuck off) to be respected. If you already have that good of a life, don’t shit on people trying to get to that level. And if you don’t have what they do, why the fuck are you shitting on them for wanting better, and why aren’t you fighting for better for yourself?

In 1886, during the Great Southwest Railroad Strike, Jay Gould (owner of the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific Railroads) famously said: “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.”

Whose side are you on?

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Just One Thing (28 March 2017)

Mar. 28th, 2017 03:10 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath posting in [community profile] awesomeers
It's challenge time!

Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.

Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!

Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!

Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.

Go!
bookgazing: (Default)
[personal profile] bookgazing posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Everything is A LOT at the moment, right? It can feel like everything is out of our control. Our actions get drowned out by newsreels of permanent despair, and every new dawn brings a chorus of 'Those fuckers did what now?' It's easy to believe what fascists want us to believe - nothing we do makes a difference and we may as well give up.

To counter this narrative, which is designed to keep us from beating them down, I thought it might be useful to start signal-boosting things that got DONE over the course of a month. My goal - to produce a five-item list, each month, of ways people improved the world and made a difference, big or small, in the middle of this political wasteland. Regular people are pushing back, and resistance is anything but futile.
Read more... )

Random facts meme!

Mar. 27th, 2017 11:44 pm
umadoshi: (kittens - sharing a chair)
[personal profile] umadoshi
[dreamwidth.org profile] owlmoose tagged me for this a few weeks ago! I'm ignoring the "tag other people" bit, but I enjoy reading things like this, so if you need a nudge to do a random-facts post, consider yourself tagged.

(If I think too hard about "wait, does everyone already know this?" I'll freeze up, so...I'm not gonna think about it much.)

RULES // POST 10 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT YOURSELF AND PASS IT ON 15 PEOPLE

1. On an average day I probably drink three or four mugs of tea, but I didn't start drinking tea at all until I was in my late 20s. (I think I was 27.) One more thing to pin on internet friends, because what got me started was Shadow (from the Furuba days) sending me a small array of flavored black teas to try. I have no recollection of how this came about.

2. Halifax and Toronto are the only places I've ever lived. When [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose and I lived in Toronto, the things (other than people) I missed about Halifax were a) the cleaner air, b) the subliminal awareness of the ocean's presence, and c) pizza. (Halifax pizza, as a sweeping statement, has declined in quality since those days. Alas.)

3. I'm still friends with quite a few people I initially met online, and then in person, via the Sailor Moon fandom, which I haven't been active in since about 2000.

4. My gateway comic was Power Pack, which I read via the library sometime in Grade 2 or 3.

5. I love Siberian cats with all my heart, and may never have any other kind of cat again, but historically my favorite breeds (neither of which I've ever lived with) are Abyssinians and traditional Siamese (which Wikipedia recently told me are now called Thai cats, and it's nice that they have a separate name, I guess, but it bugs me a bit that they didn't get to keep the original name and have the new one assigned to modern Siamese).

6. I took ballet for about seven years, starting when I was 15, and jazz dance for about six (starting the year after ballet). I was never terribly good, but I really enjoyed barre. If I could take a class that was just barre, I'd be very tempted. (Yes, I know that many exercise studios offer a "barre" class these days. I've looked into several. They are not what I want.)

7. I can't drive, ride a bicycle, blow bubbles with gum, or whistle.

8. I had size 4.5 feet until I was about 20. Thankfully they're now a much-easier-to-shop-for size 6/6.5.

9. Drinking milk makes me unwell. I am not lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy; I can and do consume every other dairy product, including milkshakes or hot chocolate made almost entirely of milk poured straight from a carton, and I put milk in my tea. But I haven't had a glass of milk since my early 20s. I still kinda miss it sometimes. (Cereal hasn't ever been something I was into, so I don't have a data point for whether I can eat cold cereal in milk.)

10. I took my minor at a different university from my BA so I could take a few classes from an amazing professor [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose had studied with. Fortunately, Halifax is so packed with post-secondary schools that I could literally walk between the two universities in fifteen minutes.
umadoshi: (Deadline Russian cover)
[personal profile] umadoshi
1) The second-last round of the Unbound Worlds Cage Match is underway, and Georgia is facing off against Ragnar Volarus from Red Rising. So far things aren't looking good for her, but voting's open for three more days. Please vote for her! Get [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire to write just one more of these little vignettes!

Pleasepleaseplease?
There was nowhere for me to run. Wolf girl had taken her forest with her when she left, and now I was alone in the nothing, looking at a mountain that seemed to have decided it wanted to be a man in its spare time.

I had never been murdered by a landscape before. What an educational day this was turning out to be.

2) And then there's this: "Blizzard is remastering StarCraft [including Brood War] in 4K resolution this summer". I don't have much to say about this, but there was such flailing when it crossed my Twitter feed. Remastered StarCraft, guys. *starry eyes*
oursin: Photograph of Stella Gibbons, overwritten IM IN UR WOODSHED SEEING SOMETHIN NASTY (woodshed)
[personal profile] oursin

Mixed martial arts is the fastest-growing sport on Earth.... what does this bloody spectacle say about the world we live in?

I don't know what, if anything, it says about the world we live in, but that article suggests to me someone who does not know a great deal about the history of sport/popular entertainment - I am like, o tempora, o mores, what are these days when somebody can write an article on fighting as spectacle and not name-check gladiators in the Coliseum? Infamy, infamy, etc.

I am totally given to wonder what a person knows about the history of sport if they can write this:

Victorian rules of football and rugby codified an attitude towards team play that made sense in the factory and on the battlefield.
Victorian rules were the imposition of a disciplinary structure (where is Michel Foucault when you need him?) on the rather more freeform sports constituting various kinds of football: which pretty much combined the football and the hooliganism in one package.

See also, boxing before Queensbury: not that boxing in its present form doesn't have significant risks, even if they're long term ones about brain damage rather than blood on the floor.

I suspect that there is a significant history of sports starting as something close to a brawl and gradually developing rules, rather than the rules coming first.

On a somewhat less extreme level, beach volleyball has that pattern of informality to codification.

I am also, why is he not, if not doing historical analogies, linking this woezery to a loooong tradition of dystopian fiction? - because the concept was not a new one in The Hunger Games.

Just One Thing! (27 March 2017)

Mar. 27th, 2017 11:33 am
syntaxofthings: Two white flowers against a blue sky. ([flower] Flower under blue sky)
[personal profile] syntaxofthings posting in [community profile] awesomeers
It's challenge time!

Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.

Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!

Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!

Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.

Go!

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