[syndicated profile] macworld_gems_feed

Posted by Michael Simon

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone at Macworld San Francisco in 2007, the sales pitch was simple yet tantalizing: a revolutionary mobile phone, a breakthrough Internet communicator, and a widescreen iPod with touch controls. When we finally got our hands on one months later, we realized it was much, much more than that.

It’s been 10 years since I switched from the Motorola RAZR to the iPhone, and it’s hard to remember how I ever got along without it. It’s not hyperbole to say the device that inspired as many imitators as innovators has had as much of an impact on our lives as the television or the automobile.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Munich Film Festival II

Jun. 27th, 2017 11:28 am
selenak: (Orson Welles by Moonxpoints5)
[personal profile] selenak
The Infiltrator was part of the Bryan Cranston retrospective and basically came across as a well-made routine thriller without anything being either bad or having anything innovative going for it. I.e. if you've watched thrillers about undercover cops working to bring a drug cartel down, you can predict all of the story beats. (Other than one spoilerly bit ).) It's entertaining and does what it sets out to do, and needless to say Cranston is reliably good in the part, but I wouldn't say it's a must.

City of Ghosts, otoh, was a fantastic documentary, directed by Matthew Heineman, about the citizen journalist group Raqqa is being slaughtered silently (RBBS). Before I watched it, I was unfamiliar with the phrase "citizen journalist" , but it's really a perfect description, because before the IS came to Raqqa, only one of them was a journalist, the rest had professions like high school math teacher or engineer. Nonetheless, they took incredible risks getting out photos and film evidence of the atrocities the so called Islamic State visited - and still visits upon their city. The surviving founders of the group had to flee but they still have some members in Raqqa, trying their best to continue getting material out. I'm always hesitant to use the phrase "real life heroes", but these people are truly heroic, and one thing that galls me especially is that when they've made it alive to Germany and safety, they promptly run into one anti-refugees march by the godawful AFD in Berlin.

The documentary starts during the "Arab Spring" in 2012, for which the Assad Regime going after Raqqa school children was one of the local triggers, and ends last year. We follow the core group of RBBS; Heineman is an invisible presence, he lets them narrate their stories, and when there's background information/exposition, such the way the IS uses the media for recruitment changed radically from the very early static speech videos to the Hollywood style big production videos that came into use after the fall of Raqqa, the activists are doing the explaining (subtitled, for the most part, everyone talks in Arabic) while the audience sees excerpts of the videos in question. BTW, I'd never seen an IS recruitment video before, and I have to say, the exact copying of action movie gimmicks and aesthetics (complete with following-the-bullet shots, soundtrack, etc.) is nearly as unsettling as the content. It's not much of a comfort that RBBS was able to puncture the IS self image enough by getting videos and photos showing the true state of Raqqa out to counteract the IS claims about it that the IS forbade any satelites in Raqqa and ordered the inhabitants to publically destroy theirs, so they regain control of the imagery. But it's something.

If the excerpts from the IS videos go for action movie gloss on violence, the mobile phone camera made videos of the RBBS are shaky, abruptly cut off, full of (inevitably) strange angles - and shocking in quite a different way. For example, the first time we see executions, the abrupt deaths and the already dead bodies lying around are bad enough, but without either the camera or any narrator pointing this out, what is as gruesome is what you see in the background. Yes, these are heads on pikes on what used to be the town square, not cheap movie props in the latest zombie splatter, but real human heads.

There's a lot of survivors guilt among the activists; one of them had to watch his father being executed in punishment, all of them are directly threatened by the IS who calls for their deaths, one lost his brother who was among the refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean, and when he talks about his dead brother, he says he still sends him messages per Facebook (as the account hasn't been taken down). "I am broken, my brother. Broken." And yet, and yet, they still continue to risk their lives. There's also a lot of comraderie we see, being physically comfortable with each other, and the rare moment of pure joy, such as everyone having a snowball fight in Berlin. You feel for them, and admire them - and hope the movie will be seen by as many people as possible. Maybe it will remind them that 95% of the victims of IS terrorism are Muslims - and said victims won't, shan't be silenced, are doing their best to fight back.

L'Intrusa, directed by Leonardo di Costanzo, is, like The Infiltrator, "based on a true story", with organized crime in the background, but the contrast couldn't be greater. While delivering a tight narration, there's nothing routine or slick about this movie, which is set in Naples and manages to avoid every single cliché. The fact you don't see the Vesuvio or the bay anywhere is just one of them; L'Intrusa is set in one of the poor quarters. The central characteris Giovanna, who has organized a miixture of daycare centre and social centre for kids and teenagers to offer them a life off the streets. When the film starts, the centre is well established and has been running for years, has been embraced by the neighborhood - but then something happens that puts Giovanna in an unsolvable dilemma. One of the small to mid level gangster's wives - Maria - and her two children have come to the centre, claiming refuge. Giovanna, Maria's daughter Rita and Maria are the three main characters; the supporting cast is also individualized, from Giovanna's right hand woman Sabina to the widow of a man Maria's husband has shot to the little daughter whose father was beaten to a pulp by Maria's husband right in front of her.

L'Intrusa never shows on screen violence. It doesn't show the Camorra doing what the Camorra does, but the after effects are present everywhere. This was a deliberate choice by the director, who in the Q & A said that if you depict Mafiosi "from the front", i.e. put them in the centre of the narration, even if you position them as villains, you end up making them in some ways sympathetic or even glorify them. "So, in my films, I only come at them sideways" - i.e. they're not there on screen, but there's no mistaking the terribile effect they have. Now, the centre is a film full of life and joy, with a community acting together, and it's rare and very attractive to see that. But it's not utopia, and in fact the need for it directly grows out of the unseen horrors around it. Not surprisingly, more and more parents object to Maria's presence. Giovanna gets accused of prioritizing the perpretators over their victims. The aunt of the little girl who has seen her father beaten into a pulp demands to know how she should justify to her sister letting her niece interact, let alone play with Rita, what that would do to her niece. Things come to a head when Rita and some of the kids argue, a normal kids' argument, with the parents drawn into, but Maria isn't just any parent, and so when she says "if you touch my daughter again etc.", the awareness that this is the wife of someone who casually kills people, even if he's currently arrested and hopefully won't get out of prison any time soon, makes this a direct threat to the other kids.

Otoh, Giovanna's argument is: if you ever want to break the cycle of violence, you need to make sure that the Marias of the world don't raise their children to follow their fathers' footsteps. That these children learn other values, learn something different. If she turns these children away from the centre, this will not happen.

As I said: it's an unsolvable dilemma, and the movie doesn't simplify it. It even adds to the stakes because Maria at first comes across as arrogant and rude (it's not until well into the film when you see her alone that you realise she's shattered and scared as well). Not to mention that she starts out by deceiving Giovanna, and there's early on not much to justify Giovanna's hope that Maria actually wants a change for herself and her children - nothing but the fact Maria is here instead of being with her rich sister-in-law, who in the movie shows up twice in a big car to retrieve Maria, in vain, and evidently lives the well funded Mafia spouse life. Basically: you understand where everyone is coming from.

Something else I learned in the Q & A was that most of the actors were lay actors, actual Neapolitans whose main job is in social service (though no one played themselves), with Giovanna being played by a woman who is a dancer and dance choreographer. "Because Giovanna doesn't say much, she's so stoic, she expresses herself through her body language," said the director, "I wanted someone who could do that, that's why I picked Raffaela Giordano." Who indeed is able to express much by the way she looks at people, by her movements, and who looks like she's closer to 50 than to 40. Everyone looks "normal", i.e. like people you could meet on the streets, not like well styled actors with a daily workout. But none act amateurishly in the sense that you're taken outside the story or feel they're talking stiltedly; given Rita and the other children are a big part of the story, that's especially amazing.

Favourite detail: one of the projects the kids in the centre work on, and the one Rita falls in love with and participates with, is building a robot they name "Mr. Jones" out of old bicycle parts. You can bet that in most other movies, Rita and her baby brother would have changed placed in age and it would have been a little boy fascinated with the robot.

In conclusion: probably my favourite movie so far, and highly reccomended

The lady in blue

Jun. 27th, 2017 04:24 am
[syndicated profile] ao3_doctorwho_feed

Posted by <a href="/users/Kambura/pseuds/Kambura" rel="author">Kambura</a>

by

The doctor is gone. After one too many tragedies and enough heartbreak for ten more lifetimes, he is done. Left with no other option and a universe in need of its doctor, his most faithful companion sets out to bring him home.

Words: 1730, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

chantefable: ([bbc] omgstfu)
[personal profile] chantefable
The best tropes and smashing execution! Marriage, makeouts, amnesia, undercover, pining, fighting, aliens! 10 most excellent tropetastic Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne fics.

Sometimes, Always, Never by Liodain (A naïve Clark Kent becomes acquainted with Bruce Wayne -- and his excellent taste in suits.)
Just a Formality by FabulaRasa (Bruce and Clark get married, for reasons. And then they fall in love.)
Body Double by Mithen (Bruce Wayne doesn't know if he's the playboy billionaire, or the hit man who killed him and assumed his identity. While he is determined to remain in the shadows, it's Clark Kent who forces him back into the light.)
Undercover by Mithen (Clark and Bruce keep running into each other while in various disguises for separate investigations.)
Speaking in Code by Mithen (Clark and Bruce must go undercover at a newlywed resort to try and stop an assassination attempt. Hijinks, UST, and reluctant making out ensue.)
When in Rome by Mithen (Superman and Batman are invited to a grand celebration in honor of negotiating a peace treaty on an alien planet. As it turns out, however, this planet's customs for such celebrations are a little different from Terran ones.)
Only Human by saltedpin (Clark temporarily loses his powers, and he is somehow an even bigger danger magnet than Lois in this state. And Batman comes to his rescue every time.)
Love, Changing Tenses by susiecarter (Bruce doesn't go to the funeral so he can make friends with Mrs Kent, and definitely not so he can posthumously fall for Clark. But it's fine. He can handle it.)
tell all the truth (but tell it slant) by susiecarter (It takes a while for Batman and Superman to work things out, once Clark comes back from the dead. Pretending to date each other in order to explain why Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are in the same place so often doesn't help as much as you might think.)
Whoever Falls First by steals_thyme (Bruce teaches Clark how to fight.)

DC DC vids (misc), DC vids (TV & EU), Wonder Woman (DCEU), Batman (DCEU), Supergirl (TV), Superman & Batman (misc) , Arrow (TV), Justice League & Suicide Squad (DCEU), Justice League (DCEU), White Canary & Black Siren (Arrow), Female Characters (Arrow), Superman & Batman: Secret Identity trope (misc), Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow (DC CW TV), Gotham (TV), Superman & Batman (misc), Superman & Batman: Novelty AUs (misc), DC Superheroes 1966-2016 (TV), DC Animated Series, Grayson/Midnighter, Grayson/Batman, Wonder Woman & Steve Trevor (DCEU), Batman/Green Lantern, Wonder Woman (DCEU)

(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:45 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] coalescent!

Oh, God will save her, fear you not

Jun. 27th, 2017 04:42 am
sovay: (I Claudius)
[personal profile] sovay
I enjoyed this review of a new biography of A.E. Housman, but I got to the last paragraph and disagreed so violently that I spent my shower fuming about it:

But that sweetness, verging on sentimentality, is also Housman's limitation: the lads and lasses slumbering under the grass, never growing old or sick or worrying about how to find a job. Sadness in Housman is a one-size-fits-all emotion, not one rooted in particulars. It puddles up automatically. And reading "A Shropshire Lad" you can find yourself becoming narcotized against feelings that are deeper and more complicated. That may be the real secret of the book's enduring popularity, the way it substitutes for a feeling of genuine loss the almost pleasant pain of nostalgia.

The reviewer claims earlier that "one reason 'A Shropshire Lad' has been so successful is that readers find there what they want to find," so perhaps I am merely following this well-worn tack, but I don't see how you can read Housman and miss the irony, the wryness, the sometimes bitterness and often ambiguity that never prevents the pleasure of a line that turns perfectly on itself. Some of his best poems seem to take themselves apart as they go. Some of them are hair-raising. Some of them are really funny. (It is impossible for me to take "When I was one-and-twenty" as a serious lament. In the same vein, it wasn't until tonight in the shower that I finally noticed that "Is my team ploughing" owes a cynical debt to "The Twa Corbies.") That is much more complicated than a haze of romantic angst and the vague sweet pain of lost content, especially seeing how much of Housman's language is vividly, specifically physical for all its doomed youth and fleeting time, not dreamy at all. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale. I am not sure why the reviewer knocks Housman's Shropshire for not being "particular," either. Of course it's not actual Shropshire, where the poet himself acknowledged he never even spent much time. It's Housman's Arcadia, et ego and all. I finished the review and found myself thinking of Catullus—again, I had to have my hair full of soap before I realized why. I don't understand why anyone looks for the undiluted Housman in A Shropshire Lad any more than the Lesbia poems should be assumed to contain the authentic Catullus. Pieces of both of them, sure. But my grandmother didn't need the identity of the addressee of "Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over" pinned down in order to copy out the poem and save it after a college relationship broke up badly. (I thought it was hers for years.) Who cares if its second person was Moses Jackson or fictional? It spoke to a real loss. I don't think there is anything anesthetizing in that. I doubt Housman would have wanted the particulars known, anyway. I have to figure out a way to stop fuming and start being asleep.

(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:13 am
jekesta: (hexagons)
[personal profile] jekesta
1. All of my posts turn into angry rants about things I don't have words for.

2. Day Seven: A song about drugs or alcohol



It's so good this song exists because I can't think of ANY OTHER SONG I like about drugs and alcohol. There are much better categories of things people write songs about.

3. Richard Littlejohn apparently genuinely thinking of Oates as a guy that just fucked off when the going got hard makes me laugh every time I think about it.

4. It's my mum's birthday, so I've spent the morning making an afternoon tea of cake and jelly and sandwiches. Every time I make party food I plan it with logic and sense but when I'm making it I'm like 'just FOUR THOUSAND sandwiches? PEOPLE WILL STARVE' and I double everything. There is so much food in my fridge now and there are only going to be five of us.
[syndicated profile] apod_feed

If you could stand on the surface of the newly discovered Earth-sized exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, what would you see? If you could stand on the surface of the newly discovered Earth-sized exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, what would you see?


Daily Happiness

Jun. 27th, 2017 12:54 am
torachan: ryu from kimi ni todoke eating ramen (ramen)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I had a nice, relaxing birthday. I really didn't want to go anywhere or do anything, so I didn't!

2. It was pretty hot and muggy today, but if the forecast is to be believed (and I would like to believe it), today was the worst and it should be getting cooler for the next ten days or so. (It's definitely cooled off a lot tonight.)

3. We ordered Indian food for dinner and it was super tasty. The place we got from was new to us, but I will definitely be ordering from them again in the future. Among other things, we got mango chicken masala, which was amazing. Also cheese naan.

4. I happened to see a really cute Darth Maul Funko Pop the other day and ordered it from Amazon as a birthday present for myself and it actually came right on my birthday. :D

5. Chloe is such a pretty kitty!

Meanwhile...

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:44 pm
owlmoose: (ffix - garnet)
[personal profile] owlmoose
This past weekend was super and fabulous. I was fortunate enough to be able to snag four tickets to Hamilton for this past Friday, and I invited [personal profile] justira and [twitter.com profile] kaytaylorrea to join me. They both came into town, [personal profile] justira with their partner in tow, and the four of us had a great time not just at the show, but hanging out in SF.

Friday's show was a matinee, so we grabbed a quick lunch beforehand, then an early dinner after. The show was just as wonderful the second time, and in some ways I feel like it was better -- when I went in April, this particular troupe had been together for less than a month. Now that they've had two more months to work together, the ensemble gelled more, and I saw more nuances in some of the performances. I also saw a couple of different actors, in particular a different Angelica, and although her voice wasn't quite as powerful, I loved the acting choices she brought to the role. Another thing I noticed overall is just how funny this performance was -- this particular cast plays up the humorous moments in the songs and the choreography in a way I found really effective.

All three of my co-attendees loved the show as well, despite bringing very different levels of familiarity with it (one who has listened to the album a million times, one who'd never heard the music but read all the lyrics in advance, and one coming in almost completely cold), and it was fun to talk about how their various expectations colored their watching experience.

On Saturday, [personal profile] justira and I met up with [personal profile] forestofglory to wander the Ferry Building and Farmers Market. We noshed our way through, one of my favorite ways to eat breakfast in the city, including some breakfast ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (taking advantage of the lack of line). After that I met Kay for a Giants game; our boys lost (not unsurprisingly; the team is TERRIBLE this year), but we still had fun. Then we all (minus [personal profile] forestofglory, who had a prior engagement) gathered at my place for more chatting and hanging out until far too late, chattering about fandom and everything else under the sun, driving poor T to distraction I'm sure. I was particularly happy to see how well everyone clicked, considering that my two guests didn't really know each other before the weekend. There's nothing better than introducing two friends and watching them develop a quick rapport. :)

As Kay said a couple of times over the weekend, our parents were wrong: always make friends with strangers on the Internet. Sure, there's a risk, as people are always a risk, but the rewards are one thousand percent worth it.

jenny returns

Jun. 27th, 2017 02:13 am
[syndicated profile] ao3_doctorwho_feed

Posted by <a href="/users/danahscott/pseuds/danahscott" rel="author">danahscott</a>

by

after a few failed attempts at exploring other planets, jenny decides to follow in her father's footsteps and build her very own tardis. she only needed one more thing. a boost from his tardis, the only tardis left in the universe. the only problem? she was going to have to find him first.

Words: 7010, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

Old friend.

Jun. 27th, 2017 01:36 am
[syndicated profile] ao3_doctorwho_feed

Posted by <a href="/users/Kurisutori618/pseuds/Kurisutori618" rel="author">Kurisutori618</a>

by

AU The Doctor entering the time rift in Eaters of the Light, to defend and protect them from the creatures but not without saying goodbye.

Words: 0, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

Series: Part 3 of What if Fanart Series

Loose Ends

Jun. 27th, 2017 01:20 am
[syndicated profile] ao3_doctorwho_feed

Posted by <a href="/users/TheSaddleman/pseuds/TheSaddleman" rel="author">TheSaddleman</a>

by

When the neuroblock that erased most memories of Clara Oswald wears off minutes after saying goodbye to Clara at the Diner, the Doctor immediately tries to find the woman he loves. Only Clara Oswald - brilliant Clara, the one human who has come close to being a Doctor in her own right - has indeed thought of everything.

Words: 4241, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

two books, neither alike in dignity

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:42 pm
metaphortunate: (Default)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
It's book talking time!

Coincidentally, I have recently read two separate books about French spy-courtesans in the 1920s. One was Alexander Chee's The Queen of the Night. The other - well, I call it a book, but it is an incomplete series, by Jo Graham, beginning with The General's Mistress and continuing in The Emperor's Agent and The Marshal's Lover.

Alexander Chee, award-winning author, is interviewed about TQOTN in Vogue and reviewed in the New York Times. Jo Graham is interviewed about her books in Amazing Stories and reviewed on, well, Goodreads. There is a great difference in the height at which your brow is meant to sit while reading these books.

Which just goes to show why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

The Queen of the Night is rapey-er than Game of Thrones, and you will not collect that from reading any of those interviews or reviews, but holy shit, it's grim and unrelenting. There is a lot of sex in this book - never let anyone tell you that Serious Authors don't write sex. What Serious Authors don't write is enjoyable sex, because that has the filthy female whiff of romance about it, and Chee will have nothing to do with that trap: enjoy 561 pages of bleak fucking, at best survival sex, at worst violent rape. But it's described like opera! So, you know: it's Art.

Whereas if on the other hand you like slumming, you could read a page-turner of a picaresque sex-and-war-and mysticism perspective on the Napoleonic Wars that is super, super interesting for someone who has tended to read about it from the English perspective! It reminds me very much of that Roger Ebert quote that's been floating around Twitter:
There's a learning process that moviegoers go through. They begin in childhood without sophistication or much taste, and for example, like "Gamera'' more than "Air Force One" because flying turtles are obviously more entertaining than United States presidents. Then they grow older and develop "taste,'' and prefer "Air Force One," which is better made and has big stars and a more plausible plot. (Isn't it more believable, after all, that a president could single-handedly wipe out a planeload of terrorists than that a giant turtle could spit gobs of flame?) Then, if they continue to grow older and wiser, they complete the circle and return to "Gamera'' again, realizing that while both movies are preposterous, the turtle movie has the charm of utter goofiness--and, in an age of flawless special effects, it is somehow more fun to watch flawed ones.
Both books are preposterous. But Jo Graham's books are cheerfully preposterous, with love at first sight being based on mystical reincarnation through the ages and a vow between Cleopatra's handmaidens or some such thing; and Alexander Chee's characters blankly drift through the ludicrous motions of a musicless opera plot because, as The Worst Bestsellers likes to say about characters in books like these, they are lizard people. Human motivations and actions are foreign to them! They hatched from eggs and now they are wearing human skin suits and that's why the author acts like their entirely, artificially plot-motivated behavior is normal and requires no explanation. It is normal, for lizards!

Whereas Jo Graham's books involve people having difficult but ultimately productive conversations about ambition and infidelity and polyamory - they don't have that vocabulary, but the ideas are definitely there - and people who aren't entirely good or bad, and an enby protagonist, and conflicted feelings about children, and the fear of aging and death, and politics that are rooted in the deep personal urge for freedom, and yes - magic, and sex, and fun! I got the third one as part of a StoryBundle, which was annoying as it spoiled the first two, obviously! But the moment I finished it I bought the other two anyway. Spoilers don't matter that much - they're not mystery novels, if you're writing about the Napoleonic Wars the interest of your story had better not depend on the reader not knowing how things turn out. The Queen of the Night I got from the library, and I tried to finish it, I really did. It just wasn't giving me anything to work with. It is the kind of book where spoilers matter - my loan of it ran out before I made it to the end, and I placed a hold on it to check it out again just because I did, honestly, want to know the answer to the mystery. But when my hold on it came due, I admitted that I did not want to know enough to drag myself through to the end of a very, very, very boring book, and I never checked it out the second time.

And, incidentally, between the grim, boring, rapey book, and the picaresque, sexy, fun book? The fun book is the one that's based on a real historical person. Maria Versfelt was a Dutch adventure star, as she is delightfully described in that Dutch website (thanks Google Translate), and her published memoirs are the basis for Graham's books. I think the reincarnation thing is invention, though.

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