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Showing posts from February, 2015

Saturday Serial: Captain America #1

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You guys, I found a thing on YouTube!

There's a passing reference in the Marvel movies that one of Cap's projects, during his USO showgirl days, was starring in adventure serials. The kind they used to run before the main picture at movie theaters.

(I've no idea if he did that in the comics as well; I'm not that up on the old issues. Although I do know that in comics continuity, for a while Steve was making ends meet as a comic book penciller. He sold most of his work to Marvel. I'm pretty sure it was either stated or implied that he was doing the pencils for the Captain America comic that existed in-universe, because that is exactly Stan Lee's sense of humor.)

The Captain America adventures were, in fact, a real thing. Not starring the real Cap on leave from the European front -- so far as I know, anyway -- and featuring 'DA Grant Gardner' as the Captain, rather than 'Steve Rogers'. (People other than Steve and Bucky have canonically worn the s…
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A friend of mine posted a link to this on Facebook the other day. It's a beautiful, melancholy, wistful piece.

I've seen a few of those, and I have noted that, at least in my possibly not-very-representative sample, a lot of women wanted to be pretty, whatever that was to them, to have that moment where everyone in a room stops and stares at their beauty.

That is a real thing, and it does happen sometimes, but it doesn't go quite the way I think most people think it does.

I'm not gonna lie, I think it's fun, in the same way being on stage is fun. And I mean exactly the same way being on stage is fun. If you don't like being on stage, if the very idea of having to get up in front of a million people to give a performance or a presentation triggers your secret magical anime transformation into Super Pass-Out Panic Monkey GO!, then you would hate it with the burning passion of a thousand fiery suns. I'm not saying that you're guessing wrong about how you&#…
Jazmin is still humoring me. Well, not so much 'humoring' as 'along for the ride', or perhaps even 'throwing herself into the gunner's seat'. I asked her which version of Cap's outfit she'd want to build for this hypothetical stage combat demo, and STRIKE SUIT STRIKE SUIT STRIKE SUIT, apparently.

All righty, then. The cosplay part of the plan is the one I am 100% sure we can pull off, given enough time and money. I am very good at building costumes. Ten years of being de facto in charge of Halloween will do that to you. Other people have noticed this, too -- I'm handling costumes for the Post-Meridian Radio Players' Spring Adventure Spectacular, which is volunteer, and someone else has inquired about costumes for his dance troupe, which I will believe when I see the signed contract and deposit.

I get asked informally about this stuff all the time. A good 50% of knowing what you're doing is just knowing how to run triage on outfits: Which…
Meredith brought up a point in the comments on my entry whinging about not knowing what I've gotten myself into with all the moving about and being athletic. She pointed out that bodies are basically big squishy food-powered machines, and there is no reason this topic should be so fraught.

She didn't try to tell me I was a dumbass for not expecting this, which is fine, because I totally was. A dumbass. Not expecting this. You know what I mean.

There are a lot of interlocking reasons why this is a touchy topic, for me personally and for people in general. Probably the broadest one is a widespread ambivalence about personal achievement. We have this bizarre tug-of-war going on in the self-esteem movement right now. You, personally, are supposed to know your value. You, personally, are supposed to be keeping an internal running tally of Cool Stuff I Can Do, and you, personally, are supposed to feel empowered to point out items on the Cool Stuff list, on the theory that no one els…
I've recently begun to develop a great deal of sympathy for Steve Rogers. Fresh out of the government's magic-y science pod thing, he goes running through the city streets and accidentally kicks himself right into a shop window when he forgets how inertia works. It took him maybe ten minutes to get surprising new muscles, rather than the ten months I've been at it, but I haven't gone through a sheet of plate glass yet, and he didn't do it by accident, so I feel like this evens out.

It is disconcerting to catch your own reflection in the side of a subway car and wonder where the rest of your thighs went. My tailored winter coat buttons without buckling over two shirts and a sweater. It is suspiciously easy to see my rib cage in the mirror. No one's complained at me, I just find it mystifying that I could change so much and not notice until now. I've made a mental note to keep more cake mix around in the future, lest I change enough to worry people.

The stran…
I'm in one of those moods where perfect strangers can get to me.

I was having one of those fangirl conversations a couple of days ago when someone mentioned the neighborhood where Chris Evans has an apartment here in Boston. I knew he had family out in the suburbs and he mentions other local(-ish) spots in interviews sometimes, but I was only vaguely aware he was in the city proper somewhere.

I've no idea whether the information is correct. I'm not the stalking type, and I've really no desire to chase it down. If it is, I've been in the area a lot. Enough that I've a pretty good guess at which building, in fact. So would anyone else who spent a decent amount of time down there. I like the idea that even the hardcore nerds in Boston are so reticently Yankee that Captain America can let on that he lives downtown between movies and nobody bothers him.

Evans is very vocal about liking it here. According to Twitter, he's even enjoying the snow, although that may…
...hello, all of hacker culture! It's nice to see all of you, you know, at once. It always makes me wonder if something has broken in the hits counter when it goes up by an order of magnitude in under 24 hours, until I check my referrer logs and see exactly whose doing the sudden crowds are.

For those of you who want to see me on a regular basis:

The RSS feed for this blog is here.
My Twitter account is here.
My tumblr, which echoes my blog and also a lot of other random stuff, is here.
My Facebook, which is under my modeling/stage name, is here.
My contact email is here.

If you have a Kindle and feel like paying a buck a month to have my ramble delivered, that's here.
My Patreon page, which I will update one of these days I swear, is here.
My Amazon wishlist, if you feel like buying me something or just getting a peek into my psyche, is here.

I can totally be bribed into writing things, doing photoshoots, consulting, or coming to your conference. My price is reasonably low. M…
I have a bunch of stuff to write up about the workshop in New York, but it would be rude of me to do it before everyone chimes in about whether they're willing to be named and quoted. So instead I'll ramble a lot about where I was and how I got there.

Before I tell this, I would like to emphasize to any young'uns in the audience -- and for the purposes of this post, I am going to arbitrarily declare that means anyone who is too young to buy their own hard liquor without involving a parent or a gullible college student -- that, by conventional wisdom, I should be dead right now. If I'd been in a television drama, the lead detectives would have pulled my bloated body out of the Hudson before the opening theme even started. I try to make it clear that I am often an idiot and I have some truly terrible life plans sometimes, but in case anyone is ignoring that, I want you all to assume that all of the things I do in this story are terrible ideas and not to be imitated until…
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Fuck this week already.

Because music is one of the few things that doesn't bother me during a migraine -- don't ask me to explain that one, my best guess is that it's predictable, contains a limited range of frequencies, and drowns out everything else when I jack the volume up -- here is the 'fuck you' playlist I am currently running while I sit in a darkened cave and pray the DayQuil Jazmin gave me kicks in soon.



1. P!nk - Funhouse
2. سميرة سعيد (Samira Saïd) - Bel Salama (Goodbye)
3. سميرة سعيد (Samira Saïd) - Allah Yesahallak (col.. "don't let the door hitchya on the way out")
4. Shakira - Te Aviso, Te Annuncio ("Objection Tango")
5. Halestorm - It's Not You
6. 소녀시대 (Girls Generation) - Run Devil Run
7. 安室奈美恵 (Amuro Namie) - No
8. Evanescence - Going Under
9. Kerli - Hurt Me
10. Joan Jett - Bad Reputation
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Because I am incapable of doing anything without noise in the background, I've been pawing through YouTube for music I haven't heard yet.





This may be a mark of insanity, but I think these songs ought to involve tap shoes.

It's been a good twenty years since I owned a pair of tap shoes. I remember a lot, as it turns out. A nice lady on YouTube informs me the flappity-heel bang bit I keep doing on the wood floors in the kitchen is called a 'Shirley Temple', as opposed to 'the thing I do to keep myself occupied while waiting for my pasta water to boil'. Some of these steps, I think I never knew names for to begin with -- I have genuinely never heard the words 'paradiddle' or 'Cincinnati' in this context before, but I recognize the tap run, and as far as I can recall, single, double, and treble time steps were just taught to me as sequences.

I always found it fairly difficult to fuck up tap dancing. I have the usual problem with classes not givi…
We appear to be in the end stages of Snownarok now. At least I think we are. Supposedly the last step, after the massive battle of the gods, was that the entire world was covered in water. I don't think they mentioned what phase of matter it was supposed to be in. I can totally see the Vikings expecting the world to end in piles and piles of snow.

If we end up in a giant post-apocalyptic train endlessly circling the world, I want to be in the car with Chris Evans. He takes up a lot of space, but you know, he seems useful.

There is so much snow piled up fucking everywhere that they have stopped plowing it and started trucking it out to the coast so they can throw it into the ocean. They begin with piling it in the commuter parking lots, but now they've dropped back to the old Bostonian tradition of, when you realize you are running out of space for whatever, dumping shit into the harbor until the problem fixes itself. They've certainly had a lot of practice at it. The Massa…
Home, safe. Well, reasonably so. I didn't manage to get caught in the latest blizzard, although I gave it the old college try. My 7pm train that was meant to arrive in Boston at about half midnight hit South Station just before 2:30am, We spent three hours stopped right in the middle of a track block, about fifteen miles southwest-ish of New Haven, for no immediately apparent reason. With all but the emergency lights out. And no wifi.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are having some mechanical difficulties," said the conductor over the PA system, and then offered an explanation of, "we don't know what's wrong." It was a refreshing change from when we got stuck in Connecticut on the way down to New York, where they just sat there and repeatedly rebooted the damn train for half an hour before making any announcements.

Just for y'all's edification, when you are stuck on the track somewhere exceedingly boring in rural Connecticut, in the dark, with no amen…
Morning, all. I'm in Manhattan still, and it's very Manhattan-y out here today, which is to say that I am guessing that it is going to be wet from the way the light reflects off the concrete wall of the very large high-rise building right across the street from where I'm staying. I have no idea what color the sky is; the cut I'm in is too deep for me to even see the image in ricochet by checking the windows of the floors above me. I'd have to go outside and tip my head straight up to check.

Manhattan has a way of making even the most significant things seem mundane. I walked right past the 9/11 memorial preview park widget twice yesterday before it occurred to me that the twisty metal whatzit might be A Thing. I had no idea I was that close to Ground Zero, other than in the sense that I'm aware that everything in Manhattan is basically on top of everything else in Manhattan, until I bludgeoned Google into giving me directions to one of the six or seven subway s…
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I'm on a train to Manhattan right now, Og willing, so in lieu of anything substantive, please have this here featurette of cool stuff pertaining to Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Interesting bits.

Stuff that caught my attention:

Nobody asked Scarlett Johansson about what she was wearing under her catsuit. For once.Evans is giddy about throwing himself around in gymnastics classes. Really. I don't know where these happened, but he didn't do it at home in Boston -- there aren't a lot of places that do adult tumbling classes, and someone would have let it slip by now.Stan admits to using this role as an excuse to go on a months-long research binge about Cold War spies. Also of note are a couple brief bits at the end where Evans is in costume but out of character. He has enough of the general good-natured surface traits in common with Steve that it's not obvious how much acting he is doing for the role until you see him not doing it. IRL, Evans moves like he's …

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Apparently I'm going to be in Manhattan this weekend. I'm not 100% sure how this happened. Someone emailed me and said "I'm holding this hacker-social discussion workshop and I'd really like you to be in attendance" and like four hours later she was like "here's the email for our travel guy, tell him what train you want to be on".

This is even more bewildering than the time I went up to Oak Grove to be on internet-radio and came home with a pair of lacrosse balls in my purse.

I don't think I'll have a lot of free time during the workshop, but if one of you N'yawkers is dying to see me in person, I'll see what I can do.

[ETA: I have to say, this is the most trouble anyone other than Moggie has ever gone to in order to get me to physically get me to attend something where I'm not expected to be naked in front of a camera at some point.]
Flip, thap. Flip, thap.
Flip, thip, thap.

Throwing the fan around isn't difficult. I've got a second one. I can juggle them now, kind of. I know how to juggle socks and tennis balls, I'm just rubbish at it. I don't know why spinning helps. Toss it up, catch it. Toss it up, bat it back into the spin, catch it on the downstroke.

Flip, thip, thip, thap.

Can't type while practicing. I need those fingers. Twenty years on the internet, and I never did learn to type one-handed.

Make your jokes now. I'll wait.

Flip, thip, thap.
Flip, thip, thip, thap.
Flip, thip,clatter.

Well, fuck. At least I don't feel bad about dropping my $1.25 folding fans under the coffee table.

I feel a little bad every time I catch it, though.

If I had any real ambition in life, I might have been Tony Stark. I absolutely would have been that fucked up, but I probably also would have been rich, successful, maybe famous. Probably not that rich, maybe that successful, and only famous among peo…
Snownarok 3.0! Well, not quite. More snow, but apparently in slightly saner amounts this time. Sort of Snownarok: Gaiden.

Binky has started having some mechanical issues with nomming. She is still definitely interested in food. As one of my earlier readers commented, I'm figuring "Bink-Bink will still throw herself bodily at mashed potato" is a pretty good surrogate marker for "Bink-Bink is not yet finished being a rat", so, although this is undoubtedly going to kill her in the end, I am solving the immediate problem by feeding her baby food. The first kind was something that purports to contain a healthy amount of vegetables, but in practical terms appears to be a jar of cheese sauce with some conciliatory broccoli molecules in.

The rat is absolutely ecstatic at this development. I occasionally give them some baby mush -- or a small can of wet cat food -- as a treat even when they're fine, and it always goes over well. Wait, foods I don't even have to
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In compensation for yesterday's rant, have this example of why I really hope Sebastian Stan is in something (other than Captain America movies) that doesn't hoover like a nuclear-powered shop vac:


Aside from being a very pretty man, he is also very good at his job. And apparently an accent sponge.

Let's be real for a moment here. He was born in communist Romania; odds that English is his proper first language are, shall we say, low. It may not have been his second, either. "Moved to Austria when he was eight," given the time frame, sounds functionally equivalent to, "mother hauled them both out of the post-revolutionary chaos as fast as was practical," and would have dumped him into a teutophone country. At best, he might have grown up bilingual English-Romanian in an environment with, at the time, virtually no native speakers of English, and the ones he could find were overwhelmingly likely to be not American. I've no idea of the penetration of Ame…
Goddamnit, is Sebastian Stan famous enough now to be in things that don't suck? The interwebs say that The Bronze was picked up for a 600-screen deal, which means it'll undoubtedly be shown somewhere in Boston. I suppose I'll see then.

Netflix Watch Instantly, it turns out, has Political Animals, a miniseries in which he plays one of the main roles, that of the fuck-up drug addled child of the star family. I expected to not particularly like it; I'm not keen on political dramas, and I figured there'd be a lot of shocking plot developments and hand wringing and probably at least one scene that consists entirely of two actors shouting at one another like they think volume is what wins you an Emmy. I've watched worse and less interesting things out of curiosity, though. I did get through Black Swan for Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. I didn't think it was the epic cinematic tour de force that everyone else apparently thought it was, but it wasn't particula…
Re-creating the Cap/Bucky fight, of course, requires us to also figure out how Cap works.

(Note: This means that my roommate is humoring me in discussions now. You should not do this. Moggie learned early on that it is a bad idea to engage me on any idea you really think is too crazy to put into practice. I am too dumb to understand what stuff I'm not supposed to be able to teach myself.)

The shield is a particular sticking point. Cap's fighting style, while creative, is nothing you can't figure out with a reasonable amount of enthusiasm and athleticism. The thing is, you can't actually do what it looks like you're doing, because no real world material behaves like Cap's shield.

Captain America's shield is made of a vibranium steel alloy. Materials that experience elastic collisions compress into the point of impact and then expand back to their original shape, i.e., they bounce. Materials that experience inelastic collision dissipate kinetic energy into de…
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Behold, my new prop.

Well, my new prop stand-in. Just because my current crop of friends wouldn't be alarmed to see me juggling a prop knife doesn't mean I know how to lay hands on one right away. I did briefly consider using one of our kitchen knives. Don't worry, I'm not dumb enough to do it -- I'd learn all wrong, they're all way hilt-heavy.

The brilliant kludge there is one of my folding fans with a bunch of hair ties around the staves, one, keeping it closed, and two, adjusting the balance. It's not quite long enough, but it is slim enough to flip end over end, which is what I want.

The knife the Winter Soldier uses in the film isn't a Ka-Bar, it's a Gerber Mark II. Those are thinner and more gracile than the famous Ka-Bar, and are sharpened symmetrically. More relevantly, they're considerably lighter than a Ka-Bar, which is a big burly thing that comes in at about a pound, sans sheath. The Gerber knife is half that. Eight ounces is on the…