Jul. 25th, 2017 05:42 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Senate vote to proceed toward removing the Affordable Care Act: 51-50. That's 51 votes against health care in America.

This is not the final word on the matter-- keep yelling, talking, chanting and singing at them. Keep on standing up for the health of everyone in America.

Well, I wasn't expecting that!

Jul. 25th, 2017 04:49 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
I just won a free one-year subscription to a magazine put out by Cricket! We already get Cricket, so I went with Muse. Fingers crossed that the girls like it.

18th birthday

Jul. 25th, 2017 05:35 pm
[syndicated profile] nwhyte_feed
October 2002, aged three and a bit

Planting the municipal tree in February 2006

With new cousin, May 2009

Helping with catering for guests, August 2010

Finding the municipal tree again in 2013

Posing in suit for high school graduation last month

Caught casually on our trip last weekend

Happy 18th birthday, F!

Reading: The Star of the Sea

Jul. 25th, 2017 06:27 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
The Star of the Sea is Una McCormack's sequel to The Baba Yaga (which I read last autumn). Both novels are set in a universe originally created by Eric Brown, though I haven't read Brown's books in the series, and take place in a far-future universe where both humanity and their traditional enemies the Vetch are threatened by the mysterious and massively deadly Weird. In this book, following the events of The Baba Yaga, the human Expansion mounts an expedition to Stella Maris, where humans, Vetch and Weird had been living in harmony, ostensibly to study the Weird but perhaps with more sinister motives. At the same time, Yale, one of the residents of Stella Maris, agrees to transport a mysterious human girl and a Vetch boy back to the Expansion for purposes that, at least initially, aren't clear to any of them, while information analyst Maxine Lee, working in the Expansion's capital, starts to suspect that some of the conspiracy theories she's meant to be monitoring may have more truth than she has been led to believe.

Like the first book, it's a plotty, compelling sf thriller with a strong cast of mostly-female characters. Also like the first book, this isn't a utopian Star Trek-type space opera; it's an examination of what it means to live in a society that's far more authoritarian than any of its citizens would care to admit, and of how an authoritarian regime can exploit the small (and not so small) differences between people to bring discord and division to a previously-harmonious society; and if I didn't enjoy this quite as much as I enjoyed The Baba Yaga, I think it's simply that the world I live in has shifted between last September, when I read that, and now, and I found it so dark that in places it was quite difficult to read, knowing what's going on in the world around me.

Politically isolated

Jul. 25th, 2017 05:25 pm
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
I feel completely out of step with most of my friends politically. UK politics, very gloomy )
oursin: Photograph of Rebecca West as a young woman, overwritten with  'I am Dame Rebecca's BITCH' (Rebecca's bitch)
[personal profile] oursin

I noticed - flitting past me on Twitter the other day - somebody eyerolling at, if not codfishing, some bloke's plaint that watching Dunkirk had made him realise that The Modern Man does not have these Manly Challenges To Rise To -

And being a historian, I thought that, actually, there have been long generations, at least in my country, where most men were not being called upon to take arms and fight, and the general attitude to the soldiery was summed up by Kipling in Tommy.

And that thing about Challenges to Rise To always tends to be seen in a context which leads to e.g. the Battle of the Somme, rather than to being a despised Conscientious Objector, a decision which history may read entirely differently -

Which possibly links on to that thing I also saw flit past me on Twitter apropos of alt-history narratives which allow the viewer to believe that they would be The Resistance, which reminded me of that nasty piece of work Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger going 'where are the good brave causes?', and really, one can think of a few relevant to the 1950s, not to mention, we do not, ourselves, envisage J Porter going off to Spain in the 30s.

And the whole notion of Heroic Actions and somehow, not here, not now.

And I thought, did not my beloved Dame Rebecca say somewhat to this point in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, and while this has the rhetorical universalisation and generalisation to which she was (alas) prone, it does seem relevant to this notion of some kind of masculine Rite de Passage:

All men believe that some day they will do something supremely disagreeable, and that afterwards life will move on so exalted a plane that all considerations of the agreeable and disagreeable will prove petty and superfluous.

As opposed to, persistently beavering away at the moderately disagreeable in the hopes that it might become a little more agreeable.

Falling down a...

Jul. 25th, 2017 04:37 pm
gale_storm: (Default)
[personal profile] gale_storm, not falling down a rabbit hole. Or even falling to the floor, which I've now not done in, oh, more than a year, I guess. 

At least I've never found myself falling down a rubbish chute. Yeah, not yet, anyhow!

The strangest places where someone can read about the oddest happenings are, well, spots in which I tend to spend too much time. That said, I'll leave you with this story, without spending overmuch time to make it sound like a Twilight Zone episode:

So, lessee... About 3 a.m., a man goes to throw away stuff down a rubbish chute, becomes confused as to whether his phone was in the bag he just tossed away, so he leans in a bit too far and plummets down the chute to find his phone had been in his pocket all along. Still and all, he's now found himself at the bottom of the chute, which I'm envisioning like the ick in 'Star Wars,' as his rescuers pumped air down to him as they worked to get him out, which happened after about an hour after he first fell in. O.O

DC man fell into a trash chute because of his phone

And we're off again

Jul. 25th, 2017 04:41 pm
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Here are a few last glimpses of Riga before we hop a bus to Vilnius. We went to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, the Art Nouveau district, and I shot a few more pictures of the hotel.

under here )

My tweets

Jul. 25th, 2017 10:00 am
[syndicated profile] nwhyte_feed
nanila: me (Default)
[personal profile] nanila posting in [community profile] bitesizedreading
How did your weekend reading go? If you planned on anything specifically, did you read it?

(no subject)

Jul. 25th, 2017 09:27 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] adair and [personal profile] owlfish!

Back in "civilization"

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:56 pm
ranunculus: (Default)
[personal profile] ranunculus
 M, Donald and I spent 8 days out in a remote Alaska cabin called Driftwood.  It was great.  Quiet and peaceful until the last couple of days when more people arrived.  Pictures coming later.

I'm looking out the window in Anchorage Alaska tonight and mourning the fact that it is ONLY 11 pm and the light is fading.  5 minutes earlier every day here.   I love long days, and always mourn and whine untll the light sees fit to return again.

Comic for July 25, 2017

Jul. 25th, 2017 11:59 pm
[syndicated profile] dilbert_feed
Dilbert readers - Please visit to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to


Jul. 24th, 2017 02:41 pm
onyxlynx: Blue bkgrd, large red 7th, words "decade of fabulous." (As in "I'm in my 7th decade of fabulousn)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 This morning's ghastly realization:  I am old enough to sort of remember pre-Interstate car travel.  (I bored an Irish-Canadian of approximately my own age talking about the journey between Buffalo and Niagara Falls [he escaped just before I started explaining about the ancient off-ramp just off the bridge to Grand Island northbound, which used to describe a tight circle, which was still visible though overgrown thirty years ago.  Having checked Apple Maps, there seem to be extra roads there now.  Ah, well.  The Thruway was built/extended in the late '50s.  Wow.].  It was a tedious trip.)

I get to chuckle at the irony that during rush hours, the highway is slower than city streets with the lights.  (Yes, destruction of neighborhoods, Robert Moses, Justin Herman, but divided highways were not really intended to be in cities; they were intended to bypass cities.)

Exploring Riga

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:12 pm
sabotabby: (sabokitty)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I don't have a ton of spoons left over tonight for a long post, so have some photos around and about Riga.

After the aesthetic exuberance of Odessa, Riga seems much more restrained, even dour. It's impressively old (founded in 1201, and there were settlements well before that) and lovely, but also more orderly, less lively, less organic. And, of course, much more expensive: welcome back to Western Europe.

This said, it's gorgeous and fun. Everyone speaks English here, which is relaxing. I don't mean this in a chauvinist way; mainly that I don't need to bother Anya to translate everything. Actually, where we're staying in the old town, it doesn't seem like anyone other than people working here are from here; it's pretty heavily touristy.

Which also means that it's incredibly easy to find vegan food. Including an entire vegan restaurant. I was like, "GIVE ME ALL THE PROTEIN."

The most important story I learned today was this: There were two powerful guilds in Riga. One was for skilled craftsmen, and admitted every eligible craftsman who applied to join. The other was for merchants, and only admitted Germans. A wealthy merchant from Riga applied to join and was rejected on the basis of his nationality. Accordingly, he built himself a giant fuck-off house across the street from the guild building and put black cats on the roof with their asses facing the building, as if shitting. The guild immediately sued to have the cats removed, but because lawsuits take time, WWI broke out, and no one gave a shit about cats' asses. The cats were mysteriously removed anyway in the 1920s, and replaced just as mysteriously in the 1950s, this time facing towards the guild, as it is now the home of the Riga Philharmonic, and no one has any quarrel with them.

photodump )

Hippo, Birdie, Two Ewes

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:02 am
onyxlynx: Festive pennants in blue & purple with word "Birthday" centered. (Birthday)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 to [personal profile] beckyzoole !  May today be as un-Mondayish as possible!
[syndicated profile] nwhyte_feed
Dear Chris,

You asked me:
Friend in US wants to start watching Dr Who now there is a female doctor. Which are the seminal episodes she should watch in advance? Is there one episode per season she should watch?
Unless your friend is already a big fan of sf shows from the last century, she should probably start with New Who, meaning the 2005 reboot with Christopher Eccleston. One sometimes needs to be forgiving of the production values of Old Who, and it may not be right to demand that tolerance of a newbie. For what it's worth, I answered a similar question about the first eight Doctors here many years ago; and a couple of years later I polled my blog readers on their favourite stories from the first ten Doctors here (and also on their least favourite stories here). But for now, we're looking at New Who.

I think rather than one episode per season, I'd recommend that your friend try one episode per Doctor if she wants to take a quick look and see if she wants to get into the show. For the four post-2005 Doctors, I recommend the following episodes:

Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston): The very first 2005 episode, Rose, is a great introduction to the concept of the show, and if you are starting anywhere it should be there.

Tenth Doctor (David Tennant): The 2007 episode Blink (which stars Carey Mulligan before she became famous) and is rated as the single best ever Doctor Who story by a lot of fans (and some days I am one of them.)

Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith): Again, the first episode, The Eleventh Hour, is the one to watch to get a flavour of the 2010 reboot of the show with a new production team.

Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi): The other three episodes that I have mentioned are all more-or-less set in comtemporary England; the 2015 episode Heaven Sent is set in the far future and features the Doctor contending against eternity on his own.

After that, I'm afraid I found it impossible to cut down to one episode per series. However I think I've selected the best from each season, and ended up recommending fewer than half of them. No doubt others will share their views below.

Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) - 2005

Series 1

I think the first series of New Who is still really strong in retrospect. I have mentioned Rose already. The story Dalek brings back a key concept from Old Who (set in 2012, at a time when that felt like the far future). I also like the following episode Father's Day, which establishes some important continuity about Rose (as played by Billie Piper) for later stories.

There is then a super two-parter set during the London Blitz, The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances, which introduces the recurring character of Captain Jack Harkness.

The first series ends with another two-parter, Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways - the first part has not aged well, to be honest, but the climax to the season and the Ninth Doctor's farewell are essential parts of Who lore.

Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) - 2005-2010

There are three full series of Tenth Doctor stories, and a bunch of special episodes - one for each Christmas and another three which were shown in 2009. If you have to pick and choose, I would go for the following:

Series 2

The second episode, Tooth and Claw, is set in Scotland, starring Pauline Collins as Queen Victoria. I'm not especially recommending it, I just wanted to make sure you didn't miss any Scottish stories. David Tennant, who plays the Tenth Doctor, is from Bathgate and sounds it in real life, but plays the Doctor in Estuary English.

School Reunion brings the new Doctor and his established companion Rose back in touch with two Old Who characters - and does it rather well, in a way which I think will pique your friend's interest in the previous history of the series. My favourite episode of the season.

It's followed by The Girl in the Fireplace, which won the Hugo award and remains very popular.

Then there are two two-parters which are both very good and vital for continuity - Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel, which brings back another classic concept from Old Who, and the series climax Army of Ghosts / Doomsday, which writes Rose out in suitably spectacular fashion.

Series 3

This starts with a Christmas special, The Runaway Bride, memorable for the first appearance of Catherine Tate as Donna; and then the first episode proper, Smith and Jones, brings in new regular Freema Agyeman as Martha.

Some less memorable episodes (though The Shakespeare Code is fun), including a forgettable two-parter set in New York, are followed by the excellent two-parter Human Nature / Family of Blood, set in England just before the first world war and querying the Doctor's true nature. Blink has already been mentioned.

The series ends with a three-part story, Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords. I really liked the first two episodes but felt it lost momentum at the very end.

Series 4

The regular companion here is Catherine Tate, returning as Donna, and I find it really difficult to choose between the episodes. Looking back I think it is the most consistent in quality of any season in New Who. If you force me to drill down, I'll choose the opening Partners in Crime, which re-introduces Donna; the two-parter Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead, which is particularly good and introduces the recurring character River Song; the Doctor-only tight story Midnight; and the final two-parter The Stolen Earth / Journey's End, though again I feel that the momentum was lost at the very end.

The End of Time was the two-part story that wrote out the Tenth Doctor, and wrapped up almost all of the narrative threads from the first four seasons (because the production team changed at that point).

Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) - 2010-2013

Series 5

New Doctor and new companions Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) have a really strong start with The Eleventh Hour, as mentioned above. The whole season (as was typical of the new production team's approach) is very involved, but if you are skimming probably Vincent and the Doctor is the one not to skim past, and if you have become a fan of the Angels and River Song, then the earlier two-parter The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone will satisfy. And I'm glad to say that the final two-part story this season, The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang, manages to avoid pulling its punches.

Series 6

Same cast as previous series, but an very complex ongoing plot arc which somewhat taxed the patience of even diehard fans. The standout episode is The Doctor's Wife, by acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman, which queries one of the most fundamental concepts of the series; and another good one is The Girl Who Waited, which gives Amy's character a lot more to do.

The plot arc of the season is in the first two episodes - The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon - the middle episodes - A Good Man Goes To War and Let's Kill Hitler - and the final episode - The Wedding of River Song.

Although this is probably my least favourite season of New Who, it also included two sets of very short stories which explored the time-travel elements rather nicely - the first, Space and Time, was a Comic Relief special featuring the Doctor, Amy and Rory; the second, was a series of five shorts with the collective title Night and the Doctor, of which the third and fourth, First Night / Last Night, memorably explore River Song's story further (only available on DVD as far as I know).

Series 7

Amy and Rory depart halfway through the season, replaced by new companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) who also has a complex internal plot arc; somehow this worked better for me than the previous series did. There is another strong start with Asylum of the Daleks; I love the bonkers concept of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship; you and your friend will enjoy the New York angle of The Angels Take Manhattan, which writes out Amy and Rory; the Christmas special, The Snowmen is particularly memorable; Diana Rigg and her daughter Rachael Stirling are great in The Crimson Horror; and finally The Name of the Doctor very nearly manages to sort out the dangling plot lines of the series as whole.

The Day of the Doctor was the 50th anniversary special, which brought back David Tennant as the Ninth Doctor, introduced John Hurt as an unrevealed incarnation, and also brought back Billie Piper. I drove my family to Cologne to watch it in a cinema. The girls sitting beside us were talking Russian to each other. It was pretty remarkable.

(Also as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, the original Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, wrote a play called The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, in which he and the other survivors of Old Who attempt to get in on the 50th anniversary celebrations. Around 8 minutes in, I am fleetingly visible in a crowd scene and immediately afterwards the camera dissolves from my son, then aged 14, to Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor.)

Time of the Doctor writes out the Eleventh Doctor and introduces the Twelfth Doctor. Clara sticks around though.

Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) - 2014-2017

Series 8

By now, basically, your friend will have either got into Doctor Who or not. If she is still jumping through the history of the show, looking for the good bits, then I think the best to watch from this series are the opener, Deep Breath; the very scary Listen, which explores the pasts of Clara and her maybe-boyfriend Danny Pink; and the rather bonkers Mummy on the Orient Express. The two-part finale, Dark Water / Death in Heaven, is also somewhat bonkers but wraps things up.

I'm afraid this series also has one of the worst ever Doctor Who stories, Kill the Moon, which I would advise even completists to consider skipping.

Series 9

This series had a very different format - mostly two-part stories, of which my favourite was The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion, though the immediately preceding The Girl Who Died / The Woman Who Lived is also good. Face the Raven writes Clara out in dramatic style, and the following episode is Heaven Sent, already mentioned.

After that you'll want to see the season finale, Hell Bent, and the Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song, for the sake of completeness.

Season 10

The Christmas Special, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, is another New York story which I think will be enjoyed by people who don't take New York too seriously.

I felt that the series as a whole was Capaldi's best, introducing new regulars Bill (played by Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas). The three opening episodes - The Pilot, Smile and Thin Ice are all strong, and I also particularly liked The Empress of Mars and The Eaters of Light (set in Roman-era Scotland - see, I'm still thinking of you), towards the end. The closing two-parter, World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls, brings back an unexpected character from the Tenth Doctor's era, and sets the stage for the coming switch from Peter Capaldi to Jodie Whittaker.

Capaldi has one more episode to go, in which he will be joined by David Bradley as the First Doctor, the role originally taken by William Hartnell in 1963-1966. (Bradley also played Hartnell playing the Doctor in another 50th anniversary special, An Adventure in Space and Time, a play about how the show was originally made.)

So, Chris, that is possibly more information than your friend actually wanted. And no doubt others will chime in in comments to tell me How Wrong I Am - fifty-four years of history leave plenty of room for fannish debate. In any case, I am sure that your friend will enjoy a lot of it.

July 2017


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