Orphan Black 5.03

  • Jun. 26th, 2017 at 7:58 AM
And my show love is back! Woo hoo! That was a fantastic episode.

Read more... )

Out on the ocean

  • Jun. 25th, 2017 at 12:34 PM
1) I took these a while ago and kept forgetting to post them. Just some more photos of birds on our balcony, including a new set we hadn't seen before. Read more... )

2) We watched Moana this week. I think it may be my favorite Disney "princess" movie so far. Read more... )

3) We finished S1 of Travellers and I was glad to hear it's been renewed for S2. It's a lot harder these days to keep up on whether a show has been cancelled or renewed, and if it's returning, when. Read more... )

4) Another study on how people get news has some interesting results when it comes to young readers in different countries. Also an interesting surprise is that the increase in use of ad blockers has rolled back. (Although perhaps the bigger news is that only 24% of desktop users and 7% of smartphone users use it at all) Read more... )

5) When Petzi posted this article on heat wave impact, my first thought was that the lack of climate change planning also involves a lack of migration planning. Because surely over the next 50 years there's going to be a substantial move by people (or a lack of moving) from one part of the U.S. to another. Read more... )

Munich Film Festival I

  • Jun. 25th, 2017 at 10:53 AM
Aka what consumes my days these days, as every year around this time. Of course, every year doesn't have Bryan Cranston as one of the guests of honor, so there was this additional perk.:) (Here's an article about the award ceremony he was there for.)


 photo 2017_0623Filmfest0003_zpsgy9vaotd.jpg

(Question: is the young man in one of the photos a fan is holding out to be signed truly Cranston some decades ago? Yikes, I wouldn't have recognized him.)


The director of Wakefield, one of his movies which are shown this year in honor of him (and yes, of course several Breaking Bad episodes are s hown as well), Robin Swicord, joked that both she and Cranston have German grandparents, and: "I don't know why they left, but you know, I think the fun is over. Might be a good idea to come back now, and I think you all know why. So thank you for welcoming political refugees." Former opera director Sir Peter Jonas outed himself as a Breaking Bad fan, complete with Heisenberg t-shirt, and held a speech praising the glories of narrative arc driven television. My only irritation with that one wasn't the series he singled out (other than BB) for being exceptionally good at this - The Sopranos, Oz, The West Wing and The Good Wife - , but the one he didn't mention. Babylon 5 still doesn't get as much credit in breaking ground with its narrative arc tellng format as it deserves.

Anyway, Bryan Cranston's own speech was lovely, mostly about the way being a storyteller is the best vocation (I agree), with both wry humor and sincerity. After the ceremony, Wakefield was shown, but due to an unshakeable real life obligation, I could only watch the first hour. Mind you, I had mixed feelings anyway. Because I could see why Cranston was cast (excelling as he does in playing dislikeable characters whose pettiness isn't air brushed away who are still interesting to watch) , and I enjoyed seeing Jennifer Garner again (playing his wife), and found the concept something of a suburban Hitchcock satire without crime (Howard Wakefield, lawyer, due some circumstances ends up disappearing into his own attic, watching his wife and family carry on without him with the bickering zest of a true voyeur while literally reduced to eating garbage) in a clever way, it still made my skin crawl. Because in the hour I watched, most of Howard Wakefield's voyeurism and assholery was directed against his wife, and while I knew the narrative was absolutely on the same page with me here, it still felt very disturbing to watch, and so it didn't exactly break my heart that I had to leave early. (Otoh I missed the Q & A with Cranston afterwards that way, alas.)

On to movies I could watch completely:

La Familia, a movie from Venezuela, directed by Gustavo Rondón Cordóva, currently stuck in Caracas and thus unable to make it to the festival, though he might make it to the Latin American directors general Q & A on Monday. This was a taut, intense story starting in the poorest quarters of Caracas. Our two main characters are Pedro, a twelve years old boy, and his father Andres, who works several jobs at once to make ends meet and thus hardly sees him. The introduction sequence has Pedro (Reggie Reyes) playing with some other children, and the playing has that edge of violence, those moments when shoving at each other suddenly threatens to become more, which has you sit up already. And sure enough, various scenes later, which establish Pedro's day with best friend Jonny and minus his father (who sleeps like a stone on those rare occasions when he's home), violence does explode, as a child threatens Pedro and Jonny with a gun and Pedro ends up seriously hurting the other child. His father Andres understands the implication at once because the child in question has revenge hungry people, and goes on a run with his estranged son, which is the plot line for the rest of the movie. "Going on a run", however, doesn't mean what it might were this a US film, because Andres still needs that money for Pedro and himself to survive, so he takes Pedro with him to his various jobs on the other ends of the city - they just don't go back to their own quarter, though Pedro urgently wants to because he's worried for Jonny, which makes for a big confllct with his father.

This is a movie which trusts its actors (Giovanni García plays Andres), because the dialogue is terse and rare, and you experience the shifting father and son relationship mostly through physical interaction, looks, gestures. Andres doesn' have a "killing is bad" conversation with his son, or a "how do you feel about what happened?" conversation - that's just not how they interact. And yet you can watch them becoming closer throughout the film, and at the end they truly understand each other, and even in their desperate situation have some hope for the future.


Clair Obscur, a Turkish-German-French-Polish coproduction (yes, these do exist) directed by Yesim Ustaouglu. With a female Turkish director and two female main characters, this movie explores, among other things, various ways of what it means to be a woman in Turkey. Our two heroines live completely different existences - Shendaz is a psychiatrist with a seemingly good relationship with her boyfriend, living in very well off circumstances at the Meditterranean coast, while Elmas is still a teenager imprisoned in a marriage to a much older man who revolts her, serving him and his mother in their small flat in a skyscraper. The two storylines eventually connect when due to various spoilery circumstances Shendaz becomes Elmas' therapist; by that time, the cracks in Shenaz' own life have been revealed, but refreshingly for therapists who tend to be either demonic or incompetent when presented in a fictional story, she's still able to truly help Elmas (especially once she figures out how young Elmas really is), and eventually finds away to escape the mess in her own life as well.

The director and several of the actors were there, though not the two leads. The actress who plays Elmas' mother-in-law said whhen she read the script, she thought that this was the best discussion of female sexuality in a Turkish movie. The sex scenes aren't just surprisingly frank in the case of Shenaz (with Elmas, who does not want to have sex, the camera stays on her agonized face, and later goes with her to the restroom because the aftermath is also very painful to her), but always make a character point. In the Q & A the director was asked whether the movie could be shown like this in Turkey, and she answered she had to cut around two minutes for the general release version (though she was allowed to show the full length in Turkish festivals), which since she knew this would happen in advance she could do without taking away the meaning from the scenes in question. Mostly the general release cuts avoided the full nudity of the complete version. Since the only Muslim women showing up in Western media tend to wear headscarfs and/or hijabs, in short, live Elmas' life, I suspect the fact that Shenaz is sucessful in her profession, has unmarried sex and enjoys wine when dining with her boyfriend (who does the cooking) would be as startling as the sex and the nudity if this movie gets a release in the US or Europe. At the same time, there's the awareness that Erdogan's government and party is doing its best to make Elmas, not Shenaz' life more common again in Turkey, and that subtext is also there if you're sitting in the audience watching this film.

Shenaz is played by Funda Eryigit, Elmas by Ecem Uzm, and they're both delivering terrific performances. In the Q & A, Ms. Ustaoglu mentioned that the incredible scene in which Shenaz gets Elmas to roleplay a dream she has (which finally allows Elmas to vocalize the pain in her life) needed only two takes, one for Elmas, one for Shenaz, that the actresses were that good. And having seen this movie, I believe it.

Doctor Who 10.11.

  • Jun. 25th, 2017 at 8:55 AM
In which whoever did the trailer after the last episode should not do so again, since it already gave away the two key twists, but even so, this was a suspensful and good first part - may the second one live up to it.

Read more... )

Links

  • Jun. 23rd, 2017 at 1:10 PM
Confessions of a Trekker: I really don't like ST VI - The Undiscovered Country. Which is, I've discovered, something of a minority opinion, for at least the vocal part of fandom holds this last cinematic outing of the TOS crew in a fond light. However, now and then the dissent becomes vocal, too, as in this rewatch post about the movie in question .


In more fun Trek news, check out this vid about everyone's favourite Cardassian tailor-plus-spy:

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

(Every now and then I wish the movies instead of going for the nth version of Wrath of Khan (with or without a villain called Khan) would tackle the Cardassians instead. And then I conclude the movies would probably mishandle the Cardassians as badly as they did the Romulans, and am glad the Cardassians so far have been reserved for tv.)

And lastly, a BSG fanfic rec:

Rippling Light: tender and heartbreaking take on the friendship of Felix Gaeta and Anastasia Dualla, two characters for whom the phrase "they deserved better" might have been invented.

American Gods 1.08

  • Jun. 22nd, 2017 at 1:42 PM
Getting this done before the Munich Film Festival starts tomorrow (guests of honor: Bryan Cranston and Sofia Coppola, who brings her parents along!).

Now that the season is over, I'm still not sure whether Fuller's decision to stretch the main plot out and pace it the way he does is justified. I mean, we STILL haven't reached the House on the Rock yet, and I assumed that would happen in the third episode, as it's this story's Council of Elrond scene, so to speak. Just think of a LotR tv adaption where they've barely made out of the Shire by the time the season finishes. Otoh, all that Fuller & Co. have added does enrich the story and I wouldn't have wanted to miss it, so.

And the moral of the story is... )

but... the story goes on without me!

  • Jun. 21st, 2017 at 7:59 PM
As far back as I can remember, I've believed somewhere in the back of my head, at a gut level of knowing-ness, that the stories in books go on without me. If I put a book down in the middle, it means the story might go somewhere else that I can't see and won't know. I know this isn't a logical attitude, but it's what my brain thinks.

This has led me to sneaking books under the covers, into classrooms in middle-school, and under my desk at high school. Lead to me sitting up all night when I had to be at work at 8 am the next morning just to *find out.* Hilariously I used to get reprimanded for reading too much. Even as an adult. Of course I was often reading the wrong thing since it was mostly sci fi or fantasy books with lurid covers and crazy stories. But even with other types of literature I've always had trouble putting the damn book down.

Which is why I have trouble with WIPs, I think. I mean, I think in some fashion everyone wishes the story were complete, but I think there are a lot of people who really enjoy the getting there and don't mind if there isn't an end in sight.

Me, it's not the end I mind. I LOVE the getting there. It's that a WIP is like a book I'm being *made* to put down. And not being allowed to pick it back up (because there's nothing *to* pick up).

There are only a couple of writers I'll read WIPs from, and it's only because either I love them so much that I don't care, or that the world is so big it's ok, I wouldn't be able to take it all in anyway. For example:

[personal profile] seperis has been writing the epic, world-eating SPN AU fic Down to Agincourt (Dean/Castiel, eventually NC17, currently at 1,077,012 words and STILL unfinished) and I love that. An enormous take on one of the AUs that the show itself spawned, she asks what would have happened if Dean had gotten stuck at the end of the world? It's so fucking dense, textured, ridiculously complex, and yet I *want to know* what happens. But it's also so sprawling that it's ok that Dean and Cas are sitting around at the end of the world waiting to figure out how in the hell they're going to get screwed over AND screw Lucifer's endgame all at the same time. I mean she brought in Goddesses on this stuff. There's whole subplots that make me want to do research as a reader. I have hope that eventually it'll play out, and I'm fine with them living in the back of my head. Though I still tend to try and read not chapter-by-chapter when she publishes, but entire story-by-story so at least an arc is complete.

the ONLY fic that I've ever been pretty into as a WIP isn't so much a WIP as there are short, self-contained fics that are added to a collection periodically that expand the universe just a little bit more.

[archiveofourown.org profile] feather (or [archiveofourown.org profile] lalaietha) wrote this pretty long MCU Steve/Bucky recovery fic your blue eyed boys (Steve/Bucky, M, 123,233 words), which is amazing and lovely. It's all about Steve really trying to figure out what *will* help a Bucky who shows up on his doorstep but is relearning how to ask for things, want things, remember things, consider himself human. But then.

Then she started writing shorts in the 'verse.

(even if i could) make a deal with god (Steve/Bucky, Natasha/Clint, Bruce/Betsy, Pepper/Tony,) that has at last count 121 short fics in it. And short sometimes is 1,000 words, but sometimes is like 20,000. Word count on these "shorts" totals 478,092. Also though it's got some of the most amazing OCs ever, like, ever. When she puts a new segment out in this 'verse it's nonlinear, she jumps around, even though the timeline is incredibly well thought out and everything does fit together if you went and decided to read it right now. It also works though because Bucky's recovery is non-linear, and the form fits the emotional tone of his and Steve's life. Some of the fics make me cry. Some make me sigh. Some make me cheer. There's a young girl Mercedes who you will want to make friends with. Actually the best part of this series is that it's populated with incredible women - a vet named Chloe, her girlfriend Paula, even Betsy Ross is clearly Feather's Betsy Ross. Oh and there's a whole other sub-collection for the Natasha-focused stories [to see you there] (mostly Natasha but also Natasha/Clint, and it's another 133,179 words!)

But these two are pretty much it.

Until last night. When I made the mistake of following links from [archiveofourown.org profile] BetteNoire's Lucky Seven (Steve/Bucky power-AU, very NC17, 94,264 words) where Bucky is ex-russian mafia and fixes/races bikes and Steve is a very tired superhero to this:

([archiveofourown.org profile] silentwalrus, Steve/Bucky, PG13 for violence at this point, 109,211 words)

Steve gets out of the hospital in two days, but just barely. “I’m fine,” he tells Sam, Nurse Eunjung and the phalanx of doctors assigned to make sure Captain America didn’t bleed out and die and get bad PR all over their nice clean hospital. “I have an advanced healing factor. It’s fine. See? I’m standing.”

“That is not standing,” Sam tells him.

“You’re bending the IV stand,” Nurse Eunjung adds pointedly. “Let go and sit down, they don’t grow on trees.”


aka Steve and Bucky's Global Honeymoon Revenge World Tour.


But it's only 12 of 16 chapters done!!

And I didn't realize that until 1:30 am last night, as I'm rounding the corner on their adventures and the boys are getting a little bit lighter and less covered in grim and grime, and there are some truly funny and amazing bits in this and it has all my favorite loves for these two -- Steve getting to have faith in his Bucky, Bucky getting to be a badass but also getting to be fucking wounded and figuring his own way out, Natasha being the one who actually calls everybody for being ridiculous, even herself, and I just....

I don't want it to END per se, but somewhere they're still out there in the back of my brain moving forward in ways that my rational brain knows the fic hasn't moved forward yet. But the irrational gut feeling of me knows that I'm standing still not reading and is worried they'll be going places I can't catch up to.

Thank god for subscriptions.

At least planes can take off here

  • Jun. 21st, 2017 at 6:37 PM


1) We had a strange weather burst two days ago. The forecast had said possibility of some evening showers but clearly no bad weather was expected because when we turned on the weather radio they were saying skies were clear. Read more... )

2) NPR's 1A had an interesting chat about diversity and Disney productions, as well as the influence of media on kids.

3) I rather liked this discussion about the gendered history of pockets, although I notice it didn't mention the more recent push to get men out of cargo shorts into something more streamlined. This seems to me to strike at the heart of the issue which is that pressure about appearance has always been heaviest on women and this usually results in extreme, and often dangerous, impracticality when it comes to clothes.

"An 1899 New York Times piece makes the somewhat tongue-in-cheek claim that civilization itself is founded on pockets. "As we become more civilized, we need more pockets," the piece says, "No pocketless people has ever been great since pockets were invented, and the female sex cannot rival us while it is pocketless.""

4) HT to Petzi for pointing to the Television Critic's Awards nominees. I think these are frequently a much better list of nominees than the Emmys. That said, I thought a few choices were pretty odd. Read more... )

5) I posted about blockchains a few days ago and saw this discussion about a new project employing them as a new journalism model.

Orphan Black 5.02.

  • Jun. 21st, 2017 at 9:52 AM
Still feeling listless (me, that is, not the series) and waiting for my enthusiasm for the show to come back.

Spoilery comments ensue. )

Better Call Saul 3.10

  • Jun. 20th, 2017 at 4:22 PM
In which Saul takes a backseat to Jimmy again, and only some of my speculations turn out to be correct.

Read more... )

Doctor Who 10.10

  • Jun. 19th, 2017 at 3:14 PM
In which who penned the very last Classic Who adventure broadcast on tv in the 80s makes a comeback, lets Bill geek out over Rosemary Sutcliffe, and quotes Tacitus on us.

Read more... )

Half Baked (at least so far)

  • Jun. 18th, 2017 at 2:34 PM
1) I forgot to write anything about Arrival, largely due to the fact that it was dubbed a "short wait" for over a month on Netflix and then arrived just before I was leaving on vacation. Read more... )

2) I also just watched La-La Land. Read more... )

3) I hadn't even heard of blockchains before these articles but am fascinated by the implications.

"Blockchain technology has been hailed by its VC supporters as having revolutionary promise for all involved. “You should be taking this technology as seriously as you should have been taking the development of the Internet in the early 1990’s. It’s analogous to email for money." Read more... )

4) When this article stated "Most fanfic services don’t allow porn, hate speech, or revealing personal information about living people" I assumed it was talking about FFN. Yet it's never mentioned in the article even though Wattpad is, and only one site listed serves those under 13 (which is basically the minimum age for account holders across platforms, at least in the U.S.)

5) Speaking of kids, I thought this image was adorable and it took me a bit before I realized the little girl was holding the book in question. Bet it made the bride's day!

No, no, no!

  • Jun. 18th, 2017 at 3:22 PM
Now, universe, this is just not fair. Stephen Furst has died, whoh played the wonderful Vir Cotto in my beloved Babylon 5.

If Londo's and G'Kars intertwining stories were for me the core of Babylon 5, Vir was its heart. He defied the cliché that a character who is good, sweet-natured and kind is per definition less interesting than the darker characters around him. Vir going from seeming comic relief to Londo's protesting conscience to the Centauri's best hope for a better future was moving, funny, dramatic - all of it. And Stephen Furst was up to whatever JMS wrote for him, with fantastic comic timing (the waving at Mr. Morden, for example) and heartrendering expressions (for example, the scene where he tries to apologize to G'Kar and G'Kar replies, well, here's the scene itself:



If you're in a scene with Andreas Katsulas and still hold your own, in a situation where you're a part of the people who occupied the other man's home planet (again) and you still make the audience feel for you as well as G'Kar, then you're an artist. Stephen Furst was.

I would have loved to include the scene between Vir and Londo after Cartagia's death as well, because for me that's not just one of Vir's best scenes but one of the show's most memorable, but alas, it doesn't seem to be on YouTube. Suffice to say: that scene says so much about who Vir is, about the Londo and Vir relationship, and also about B5 as a show, because most other shows would not have bothered with the aftermath of killing a villain so completely evil as Cartagia was.

Babylon 5 would not have been as good a show without Vir Cotto, and Vir Cotto might have been a very different character if he'd been played by anyone but Stephen Furst. I'm so grateful the two, Vir and Stephen Furst, found each other.

Feud: Bette and Joan (review)

  • Jun. 17th, 2017 at 6:45 PM
Having watched „American Crime: The People vs O.J. Simpson“ some months ago, I moved on to this year’s Ryan Murphy endeavour, „Feud: Bette and Joan”, several episodes of which were scripted by Tim Minear, aka he who was largely responsible for most of Darla’s episodes at Angel, for which I’ll eternally appreciate him. Now I had actually read the book this particular miniseries draws much of its material from, “Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud”, and among other things, it was interesting to see how Murphy and his team shaped the same raw material into a different type of story. The book is very gossipy, but in a way that doesn’t favour either woman about the other, and does point out when there are several conflicting accounts. Narratively, though, it feels like a collection of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford anecdotes, without overall themes or specific conclusions. The miniseries, otoh, goes for the the Sunset Boulevard (btw: there’s a great little reference to it during an escalating Davis/Crawford argument) approach of witty, biting and ultimately tragic Hollywood on Hollywood; if Bette Davis comes across as the more “likeable” of the two women, it’s ultimately Joan Crawford whose tragedy it is, and who has the most clear cut narrative arc, from her decision to find a project for herself and Bette Davis in the series opener to her death in the finale.

You mean all this time, we could have been friends? )

Helmut Kohl

  • Jun. 17th, 2017 at 12:52 PM
I was born in 1969, which means I was in school and just making the transition from child to teenager when Helmut Kohl became chancellor. By the time he was voted out of office, he’d been Chancellor for sixteen years. (Hence one of his nicknames: The Eternal Chancellor.) He died yesterday, the tributes haven’t stopped coming in, and as when Genscher and before him Helmut Schmidt died, I feel both a bit of history and a part of what formed my life when I was young has gone; I feel my own mortality.

Not because I was a fan. I never voted for him, not being a conservative. I disagreed with various of his policies. But when I look back, it occurs to me that growing up when I did, I internalized at least two of his core beliefs – that the European Union is our future, central to avoiding the horrors of the past (by which I don’t just mean WWII but centuries of European warfare), and that the French-German relationship is central for this. It’s no accident that probably the Kohl photograph included the most in the tributes both national and international was the one depicting him holding hands with Mitterand at Verdun. Of course, no post war German chancellor was likely to neglect France for obvious reasons, but Kohl, hailing from the Palatinate near the French border which during various French-German wars was always likely to be among the first regions to be devastated during those centuries of warfare, really made wooing the French personal. (And kept it up beyond office; till Mitterand’s death, they met at least once a month.)

(My favourite Kohl and Mitterand joke goes somewhat like this: Kohl during a state visit in Speyer inflicts his favourite dish, stuffed belly of pork, on Mitterand , who first looks appalled. Then Kohl whispers something into his ear, and suddenly Mitterand eats with all signs of enthusiasm and finishes the meal. Later, Kohl’s sidekicks want to know what he said, and Kohl reveals: “I said: If you don’t eat up, Francois, you’re getting the Saarland back.”)

Among the many obituaries trying to sum up the man, from chronically underestimated hedgehog to everyone else’s hare outmanoeuvring all rivals to lonely giant incapable of admitting mistakes or accepting criticism, I think this one works best for me, not uncritical (unsurprisingly, since it’s by Der Spiegel, a magazine Kohl saw as the enemy, but also respectful of his achievements. (Whereas, say, the obituary in the Guardian felt downright mean spirited.) I’m still trying to figure out what I feel. Not sadness; both because there would have had to have been affection first, and because he was in a very bad physical state, and had been for years. It is more like what you feel when you see a giant glacier which had been melting for many years at last dissolving into water and earth, and only then you understand that the sight of the glacier, the awareness of it, had been part of the landscape that told you who you were.

Tags:

Jun. 16th, 2017

  • Jun. 16th, 2017 at 9:56 AM
* I have managed to take all required placement tests, orientations, and other such bullshit so that I may take two classes this fall. Once I had finished jumping through the hoops I was *finally* allowed a look at the course catalog. You would have thought the nation's nuclear codes were in it the way they wouldn't let me see the damn thing. Now that I have seen the catalog my plans have had to change. I had initially thought there was 6 classes that I could take to boost my acceptance chances. Unfortunately, there are only two more classes after fall semester I can take in the evening without my boss knowing. All the rest of them are day-classes so that means I'll be applying for admittance to the program in Spring 2018 rather than Spring 2019.


* Justin has been transferred from his job in SC to a job in GA. So that puts him at a four hour drive home once a week. It's a huge promotion and absolutely fantastic for his career. I am very, very proud of him. We are taking the kids to Asheville this weekend. We will stay with my friend Andi and all of us are going to the Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit concert Saturday night. Grilling out before the show, ice cream after, and then the kids are going to make brunch for Father's Day.


* I've almost managed to start exercising again. When I quit the Y last June I guessed it would be a year before I got back into it, and I was right. I really hate that the Y doesn't have the kind of classes I like. I'm getting a used Keiser M3 [studio style spin bike] and I will be spinning at home to my own music without any assholes yelling at me. I've ran a few mornings and between the sun, the humidity, and the bug bites I just can't handle it. I need to exercise indoors, thank you very much. Next Saturday, that Keiser will be mine and my ass is literally going to start shrinking AND getting nice and firm.

* Wonder Woman was everything. But I could have done with less slow motion.

* In just a couple more weeks Sally, Andi, and I will be in Detroit to see Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, and Jason Isbell \o/\o/\o/

Tomorrow, in a year (Fanfiction)

  • Jun. 16th, 2017 at 2:39 PM
Tomorrow, in a year (8124 words) by Selena
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Agent Carter (TV), Captain America (Movies), Iron Man (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Peggy Carter & Howard Stark, Howard Stark & Everyone, Abraham Erskine & Howard Stark, Steve Rogers & Howard Stark
Characters: Howard Stark, Peggy Carter, Abraham Erskine, Werner Heisenberg, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, Konrad Zuse, Fritz Haber
Additional Tags: For Science!, Dubious Ethics, Ethics, Nuclear Weapons, Chemical Weapons, Computers, Morality, Historical
Summary:

Inventions, the consequences they have and the choices you make: Three encounters Howard Stark has with German scientists he does and doesn't work with.



This was my [community profile] ssrconfidential story for this year. The reason why I assumed it was patently obvious who authored it was that, well, who else among this year’s participants would write about Howard having debates with a bunch of German scientists?

The prompt had asked for Howard Stark recruiting, via Operation Paperclip, the top German cybernetics expert in order to meddle in artificial life. This to me sounded like it was going for a tale with a Nazi robot on the rampage, which yours truly would not have been keen to write (there were other prompts by my recipient I’d have then gone for), but at the same time, the phrasing left me just wriggle room enough to come up with something more interesting and challenging to me, on the subject of Howard and German scientists. Given that the MCU has Howard Stark as a participant in the Manhattan project, and that I’m a fan of Michael Frayn’s play Copenhagen about Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, I already knew there’d be a Howard & German nuclear physicists encounter in my story.

Canonically, Howard worked with Abraham Erskine who in the MCU hails from Augsburg (like Bertolt Brecht) and thus most definitely qualifies as a German scientist, so the first Erskine-Stark encounter was a given opener for the story. Now the MCU Wikipedia has them meeting in 1934 at a conference in Switzerland, which sounds a bit unlikely given the birth year the same entry provides for Howard, but Switzerland in 1934 was also where Fritz Haber died, which made it a must for me. Because if there is someone ideal to embody the two sides of science and to kick start the question as to what the responsibilities of a scientist are, it’s the inventor of fertilizers and weaponized chlorine gas. Also, given Erskine’s age it made sense to make him a colleague and friend of Fritz Haber’s whose WWI experience gave him the original idea for what became the supersoldier serum.
(BTW, having recently had Fritz Haber on my mind for this story made me go “so…does Haber not exist in the DCU?” when a certain character in the new Wonder Woman was introduced.)

But I still needed a computer genius which was what the prompt had asked for, after all. Did we even have those in that era, I wondered, researched a bit, and found out about Konrad Zuse, fascinating computer inventor with a sideline in painting, two of whose war time created computers even were in the city where I lived, Munich. Zuse’s memoirs were also available for reading and contributed such details as his fondness for Fritz Lang’s movie Metropolis, language difficulties and other personal details which made it into the story. I was tempted to call the Zuse section “Zuse and Stark”, after “Einstein and Eddington”, that, or: "Science Bros: The First Generation", but you might as well have called it Iron Man 0.1, because it’s also a riff on Tony’s origin story as well as a contrast – one of my betas, asked to guess the prompt for the story, thought it must have been “Why Howard Stark didn’t become Iron Man”, and while I hadn’t thought of it like that at first, yes, that’s also one of the themes. Father and son are very similar, but there are also differences, both in circumstance and reaction to certain situations.

Lastly: I apologize for giving Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker my “Hydra makes no sense” rant. But Hydra makes no sense.

Wonder Woman (Film Review)

  • Jun. 15th, 2017 at 4:19 PM
Wonder Woman was a very enjoyable comic book movie. I haven't read any of the WW comics or any others featuring her, so I had no other versions to compare this Diana to. What immediately struck me, though, was the difference to the other recent DC movies. Because it seems this particular director and scriptwriter (writers?) finally managed to chuck the moroseness that passes for depth out of the window and instead came up with, oh wonder, a heroine who enjoys what and who she is and is an unabashed, heart-on-her-sleeve do-gooder. Also, she's kind. Not many people in the superhero business are, especially after the 80s. She has a learning arc, and I thought the balance between naivete, learning about the darker side of the 'verse and keeping core beliefs regardless was well struck.

The trailers had me a bit worried because of the WWI setting, this war being not one prone to good versus bad stories, and I was concerned that they simply made it I instead of II to avoid the inevitable Captain America comparisons and completely ignore the bloody mess the "Great War" was. Turns out the script actually made WWI story and themes relevant. Mind you, it needed still a great deal of handwavium. DC geography and history is not of our world, clearly. )

The reason why I didn't mind all this is that Diana's big realisation moment could not have happened in WWII and was very WWI specific; to wit: It gets spoilery again. )

Other things: liked the cast and the ensemble, really liked that Diana being a warrior and Diana being kind and compassionate was never presented as paradoxical or in conflict with each other but as one driving the other, wished Snyder's lasting legacy, the slow mo fighting, would finally stop but wasn't bothered enough in this instance to mind, and was grateful that for all the "fish out of water" humor, Diana wasn't presented as childlike or somehow unaware of sexuality just because she hadn't been in contact with a man before.

In conclusion: a deserved hit.

P.S. Now I remember I did encounter Diana in the comics before, in a flashback. In Mike Carey's story about Lyta Hall post Sandman, The Furies, it's revealed Lyta is the daughter of Diana and Steve Trevor. (It's a single panel, a memory that haunts Lyta of her early childhood and her mother.) I suppose that makes Diana the grandmother of one of the Endless?

Calling It a Wrap

  • Jun. 14th, 2017 at 7:28 PM
1) So we finished the latest seasons of Brooklyn 99, Dr. Blake's Mysteries, and The Expanse. Read more... )

Mike read that there is a 5th and final season of Dr. Blake being filmed. Read more... )

The Expanse was a lot more satisfying on virtually every front. Read more... )

2) This discussion about genetic testing and insurance is yet another exhibit about the messed up system in the U.S. The alarming stat that jumped out at me was that there are now only 12 companies in the U.S. even offering long-term care insurance. I also wonder what happened to the policies that people had with the other 80+ companies that since terminated that insurance. Read more... )

3) Speaking of aging, the suggestion that Tom Cruise is too old for action films at 55 has to have added insult to injury given its poor results at the box office. He's also hardly alone -- a lot of people in action films are only a decade younger at best. Read more... )

Also, given the article talks about how the film ends I had to raise an eyebrow at the "minor spoilers" tag at the beginning. Not that I was planning to see The Mummy anyway.

4) I loved these Wonder Woman-related stories about kids. I loved the response to littering but also find it alarming that it takes seeing WW for a girl to realize women aren't weak. Little kids aren't big on nuance but strength takes a lot of forms and it shouldn't be fighting in wars that creates the definition.

5) I finished watching S1 of Class. Read more... )

Orphan Black 5.01.

  • Jun. 14th, 2017 at 11:58 AM
Hm, I felt a complete emotional disconnect. Not because the episode was bad: it did what a season opener is supposed to, resolved some cliffhangers, showed what more or less the entire ensemble was doing, set up new stuff for the season, Tatiana Maslany is as good as ever in her various roles - but for some reason, I'm not feeling emotionally involved at all. Maybe it will come back to me? On to an actual review:

Read more... )

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