sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
Today was very pleasant but very tiring. It has been a sleepless week, most of yesterday was a migraine, and I feel exhausted to the point of stupidity. In lieu of a movie I really need my brain for, here's one I can talk about while wanting to pass out.

Last October I watched but never wrote about Norman Foster's Woman on the Run (1950), a famously near-lost noir painstakingly restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Film Noir Foundation and released last year onto home media as a double bill with Byron Haskin's Too Late for Tears (1949). Part of the delay is that I liked but did not love the former film as I did the latter with its stone cold antiheroine and uncompromising final shot; this one suffers more from the congealing sexism of the nascent Fifties and as a result its emotional resolution leaves a tacky taste on my teeth and an inchoate longing for the advent of no-fault divorce. If you can bear with its limitations, however, Woman on the Run is worth checking out as a thoughtfully layered mystery and a fantastic showcase for Ann Sheridan as an unapologetically bitchy, unsentimentally sympathetic protagonist, a rare combination in Hollywood even now.

The 1948 source short story by Sylvia Tate was titled "Man on the Run" and the film begins with one: late-night dog-walker Frank Johnson (Ross Elliott) who takes a powder on learning that the murder he conscientiously reported—and witnessed at close enough range to know the killer again—was connected to a high-profile mob trial. A failed artist with a bad heart and a marriage that's been on the rocks almost since it launched, he looks tailor-made for the dark city, a loser coming up on his final throw. The camera doesn't follow him into the night-maze of San Francisco, though, to face or keep running from his demons in the kind of psychomachia at which an expressionist genre like noir so excels; instead the point of view switches almost at once to his estranged wife Eleanor (Sheridan), wearily deflecting the inquiries of the hard-nosed Inspector Ferris (Robert Keith, who will always look like Lieutenant Brannigan to me) with flat sarcastic cracks and an indifference so apparently genuine and total, it can take the audience a beat to recognize the depths of anger and resignation that underlie lines like "No, sometimes he goes to sleep and I walk the dog." Ever since Max Ophüls' The Reckless Moment (1949), I have been wary of assuming the limits of women in noir, but Eleanor still stands out for me in her flippant, abrasive intelligence and her willingness to look bad—she knows it shocks the conservative inspector that she isn't all housewifely concern for her man and she needles him with it, referring to the dog as their "only mutual friend" and dismissing the bare kitchen with "He's not particular and I'm lazy, so we eat out." Faced with the possibility that Frank has taken his brush with the underworld as an excuse to run out on his marriage, she's more than half inclined to let him. But she's not inclined to let him get killed, especially not playing star witness for a police force whose last star witness got whacked while Frank was watching, and so in the best traditions of amateur detecting, complete with dubious Watson in the form of "Legget of the Graphic" (Dennis O'Keefe), the flirty tabloid reporter who offered his services plus a thousand-dollar sweetener in exchange for exclusive rights to Frank's story, Eleanor sets out to find her missing husband before either the killer or a duty-bound Ferris can. He's left her a clue to his whereabouts, a cryptic note promising to wait for her "in a place like the one where I first lost you." In a relationship full of quarrels and frustrations, that could be anywhere, from their favorite Chinese hangout to the wharves of his "social protest period" to the tower viewers at the top of Telegraph Hill. Let the investigations begin.

I like this setup, which gives us the city as memory palace after all: Eleanor's memories of her relationship with Frank, what it was like when it was good and where it failed and how it might be reclaimed again, if she can only find him alive. She is almost being asked to perform a spell. And while I suppose she could have done it on the sympathetic magic of a Hollywood backlot, it is much more satisfying to watch her revisit real statues and sidewalks, real crowds unaware of the private earthquake taking place in their midst. Hal Mohr's cinematography is a street-level document of San Francisco in 1950, with a cameo by our old friend Bunker Hill; he can organize shadows and angles as effectively as the next Oscar-winning DP when he needs to, but he keeps the majority of the action on the daylit side of noir, the lived-in, working-class city with Navy stores and department stores and parks and piers and diners and lots of California sun, which only looks like it shows you everything. The literal roller-coaster climax was filmed at Ocean Park Pier/Pacific Ocean Park, last seen on this blog in Curtis Harrington's Night Tide (1960). Back at the Johnsons' bleak, hotel-like apartment, Eleanor mocked Ferris for "snoop[ing] into the remains of our marriage," but increasingly it seems not to be as cold a case as she thought. Going back over old ground, she discovers new angles on her missing person; nondescript in his introductory scenes and ghostly in his own life, Frank Johnson becomes vivid in absence, hovering over the narrative like Harry Lime in Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949) or the title character of Otto Preminger's Laura (1944) until his wife begins to see a curiously attractive stranger in the place of a man whose familiarity had long since bred hopelessness. To fall in love with someone who might already be dead, to find someone in the process of losing them, these are the kinds of irony that noir thrives on and Woman on the Run derives as much tension from the audience's fear that irony will carry the day as it does from the actual unknowns of the plot, the killer's identity, Frank's status, Eleanor's own safety as her sleuthing calls for ever more active deception of the police and reliance on Legget, who keeps saying things like "I'm sorry I was so rude a moment ago, but it's always discouraging to hear a wife say that her husband loves her." He is another unexpected element, not without precedent but nicely handled. In most genres, his pushy charm and his genial stalking of Eleanor would mark him as the romantic hero, or at least an appealing alternative to a husband so avoidant he couldn't even tell his own wife when he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. Here, with a triangle already established between Eleanor and the husband she knows and the husband she doesn't, the reporter is a fourth wheel at best and the audience hopes he accepts it. Without a reciprocating spark, it's not as cute as he thinks when he encourages Eleanor to call him "Danny Boy" ("People who like me call me Danny Boy") or leads her casually under the same wooden coaster where he used to bring dates, his contribution perhaps to the film's romantic psychogeography.

Honestly, I don't even dislike the resolution on the strict level of plot. By the time Eleanor realizes that the place where I first lost you isn't a bitter dig at a bad memory but a hopeful allusion to a good one, the audience is sufficiently invested in the reunion of these long-fractured lovers—despite the fact that we've never once seen them together, even in photographs or Frank's sketches and paintings—that to frustrate it would feel deliberately unfair, although of course in noir that never rules anything out. They're both taking chances, not just with their lives but their hearts. Frank who always runs away is standing his ground, risking being found by a gunman and a partner he's disappointed. Eleanor who has built such prickly defenses is lowering them, making herself reach out rather than preemptively rebuff. You want to see that kind of bravery rewarded, even when heart conditions and prowling killers aren't involved. What I dislike in the extreme is the film's attitude toward this conclusion. In its examination of the Johnsons' marriage, the facts of the script assign plenty of blame to Frank, an artist too scared of failure to try for success, a husband who retreated from his wife as soon as he felt that he'd let her down, a man who could talk about his feelings to everyone but the woman he was living with. The dialogue, however, insists repeatedly that the ultimate success or collapse of a marriage is the woman's responsibility—that it must be Eleanor's fault that her marriage went south, that she wasn't patient or understanding or supportive enough, that she has to be the one to change. It's implied in some of her encounters; in others it's stated outright. Inspector Ferris constantly judges her as a wife and a woman, even once asking "Didn't your husband ever beat you?" when she tells him to back off. He's the dry voice of authority, the hard-boiled but honest cop; I want to believe that Eleanor is decoying him when she apologizes for not believing his criticism sooner ("I guess I was the one who was mixed up—a lot of it's my fault anyway—I haven't been much of a wife"), but I fear we're meant to take her at face value. He's too active in the film's ending not to be right. Hence my wistful feelings toward California's Family Law Act of 1969. Sheridan's acting carries her change of heart from resolutely not caring to a clear-eyed second chance, but I almost wish it didn't have to. At least she has a good rejoinder when Frank queries their future together, wry as any of her defensive cracks: "If this excitement hasn't killed you, I'm sure I can't."

The movies with which Woman on the Run links itself up in my head are Robert Siodmak's Phantom Lady (1944) and Roy William Neill's Black Angel (1946), both stories of investigating women with ambiguous allies and ghostly romantic patterns; Sheridan's Eleanor is a harder, less conventionally likeable protagonist than either Ella Raines' Kansas or June Vincent's Cathy, which may account for why the patriarchy comes down on her with such personified, decisive disapproval, or it may be the distance from wartime, or it may be some other idiosyncratic factor that still annoys me. The fact that I can read the ending as happy rather than rubber-stamped heteronormativity is due almost entirely to Sheridan, who never loses all of Eleanor's edges, plus the final cutaway to the Laughing Sal on the lit-up midway, rocking back and forth as if a husband and wife embracing is some great joke. Maybe it is. What makes this couple, so fervently clinging to one another, so special? He writes a nice love-note. She climbs out a skylight like nobody's business. They named their dog Rembrandt. This reunion brought you by my particular backers at Patreon.

Woman on the Run

More booky thoughts

Oct. 21st, 2017 09:42 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Moomin ranting tonight a bit (charmingly) about wishing his class was broader than just European fairy tales but he also appreciates that it is focused and grounded in particular history.

I was thinking how I came up against that wall around the same age, a bit earlier, and went looking for "world" stuff or just anything not English, US based, "western culture" wanting to see anything possible. Anthologies were good or looking by specific country or ethnicity. I would root through any library or bookstore. Encyclopedias too. The indexes of books were super instructive. It took just years for me to have any real handle on the depth of the problems of histories but it was clear from the beginning that A LOT WAS WRONG. I didn't go into that (right now it is better if I listen to him than talk about my own thoughts)

Anyway! I'm so, so proud of Moomin and his excitement about scholarly things. I feel like no matter what he does in life he will have that kind of love of books and knowledge and stories.

He also really loved Gilgamesh so I am going to show him those awesome debates online between Hoe and Plough, Fish and Bird, etc.

I know it is the nature of things

Oct. 21st, 2017 11:31 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
But I am a little surprised there don't seem to be ebooks of the Pliocene Saga. Or a North American edition younger than about twenty years.

DW crossposting housekeeping

Oct. 21st, 2017 08:02 pm
hamsterwoman: (Default)
[personal profile] hamsterwoman
Another import, but there's only one entry from the last 2 weeks that didn't go up on DW first:

- Oct 15: 2 week roundup, and Kairos meme: 5 favorite genres

Book log: year 30

Oct. 21st, 2017 09:18 pm
korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
[personal profile] korafox
Yes, that's right, I made it out of my twenties.  I consider this an actual achievement and not at all a foregone conclusion.  I don't at all understand people who are freaked out about hitting 30.  I actually feel like a semi-adult by now (only 17 years after leaving home for the first time, hah.) 

As always, I tally the books I read in this most recent trip around the sun.  This year I read a paltry 20 books.  So shamed of myself.  *sadface*  I also look at several of these and think, "Wait, I read this in the last year?  Surely it must have been longer ago than that."

For posterity, the list below the cut:
Read more... )

A Dragon of a Different Color

Oct. 21st, 2017 09:04 pm
marycatelli: (Golden Hair)
[personal profile] marycatelli posting in [community profile] books
A Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel Aaron

Book 4, picking up speed so that the volumes are more like divisions in a single story. Serious spoilers ahead.
Read more... )
neotoma: Loki from Thistil Mistil Kistil being a dingbat (Loki-Dingbat)
[personal profile] neotoma
I went to see The Killing (1956) on Wednesday by myself, and the double feature The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974) and Charley Varrick with A (person to be pseudonymed later).

The Killing was excellent noir, full of chiascuro and dutch angles, with a tight tight script, including the final escape with the money being foiled by airline safety regulations!

For the double feature, Eddie Mueller, who hosts Noir Alley on Turner Classic Movies if you have that on cable, was there to introduce both movies. Since the theme of Noir City this year is "The Big Knockover: Heists, Hold-ups, and Schemes Gone Wrong", the Noir Foundation included several movies that are strictly speaking outside of the classic Noir genre, but are classics demonstrating the evolution of heist movies. Thus, we had 'Walter Matthau night' with the double feature.

The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974) )

Charley Varrick )

And tonight, because I wanted to, I made Flemish Waffles from Everyone Eats Well In Belgium. I omitted the cognac, because making waffles taste of alcohol is pretty much a Do-Not-Want for me, but they were pretty tasty nevertheless, and I have a stack of waffles for breakfast for the week; I'm still getting used to my waffle iron, and it's a bit tricky to get it adjusted to be Just Crispy Enough. The waffle was especially good with the salted brown sugar peach jam I put up several weeks ago, and tomorrow I might try it with the rest of the black raspberry preserve I have open, or the pear compote. Maybe someday I'll get some pearl sugar and try the recipe for Leige waffles -- though I think I'd need a different waffle iron to actually get them perfectly right.
trobadora: (Missy (stylised))
[personal profile] trobadora
Woohoo! [community profile] femslashex reveals have happened. And I wrote Missy! Of course I did. (I'm really having a lot of fun with Missy at the moment, even if most of it is still in WIP form.) Anyway, here's the story I wrote:

Title: Finding Forward
Pairing: Thirteenth Doctor/Missy
Rating: PG-13
Summary: "Forging blindly ahead is a well-honed strategy of mine," the Doctor admitted wryly. "I can do that any day. Now, forward? That's proven a bit more difficult, you see."
A/N: Many thanks to [personal profile] fluffyllama for being there for me at the last moment. ♥

Originally posted here at AO3.

Finding Forward )

My FemslashEx story

Oct. 21st, 2017 05:18 pm
rachelmanija: (Buffy: I kind of love you)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I had tons of fun with FemslashEx, and highly recommend browsing the archive.

My recipient was [personal profile] iknowcommawrite aka Scioscribe, who wrote me two lovely Treats last Yuletide! FemslashEx allows prompts for original fiction, and this is the prompt I wrote for:

Female Revolutionary/Princess

Class issues, identity porn, loyalty kink, and compromised principles: hell yeah. I think ideally I would like this one in a fantasy world, but I’m open to other possibilities. I’d love to see about any variation on this I could think of. Is the revolutionary undercover in the palace, getting ready to overthrow the monarchy while falling for the princess? Is the princess on the run from the revolution, disguising herself, and falling in amongst the rebels? Do either of them begin to rethink their principles or their policies? Is the revolutionary agitating in the open, and the princess is intrigued by her radical ideas? Other things I’m totally here for: wearing a crown while being thoroughly debauched by a revolutionary, hurt/comfort, kneeling, undressing from gowns and corsets, and virgin princess/experienced revolutionary.

Isn't that great? I found it very inspiring.

I wrote Burn, an epistolatory exercise in Ultimate Identity Porn. The revolutionary hides her face to conceal her identity. The princess silences her voice to preserve her purity. They know each other. And they don't...
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
[personal profile] edenfalling
Today Miss Cactus introduced me to the pawpaw (Asimina triloba), the largest native North American fruit. They are apparently one of the rare temperate members of the Annonaceae, or custard apple, family; most of the related species are tropical. She has a pawpaw tree growing wild in her new backyard, and therefore has more fruit than she really knows what to do with right now. (Pawpaws don't keep or transport terribly well.)

The outside of a pawpaw fruit is sort of leathery yellow-green-brown with lots of brown spots. The inside is creamy yellow with huge black seeds, easily removed. The texture is a bit like avocado crossed with banana, ranging from relatively firm to very mooshy/squishy, and the flavor is... hmm... kind of like banana-pear with a hint of lemon, maybe? Or mango-guava-banana? Hard to describe, anyway. It's very sweet and gets cloying rather quickly; one fruit would probably be most people's limit.

It turns out that I am mildly allergic to raw pawpaws, but not terribly so -- a single Benadryl tablet was enough to mitigate the reaction, and I didn't start getting excessive phlegm/throat-closing issues until I'd eaten nearly a whole palm-sized fruit.

I don't particularly need to eat another pawpaw ever again, but I hear they make pretty good ice cream (which I would readily believe) and they can be subbed into almost any recipe in place of banana. Miss Cactus said she used a bunch in a banana bread recipe this week and it turned out well, so. :)

and now, a poll

Oct. 21st, 2017 05:48 pm
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
[personal profile] kindkit
Following on from my previous post, because now I'm beginning to wonder if what I think is my culture's view of adoption and birth mothers is not actually the case. The poll is as anonymous as I can make it, and anonymous comments are allowed.


This poll is anonymous.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 11

When a woman places her child up for adoption rather than raising the child herself, how is that predominantly viewed in your culture (not necessarily by you)?

Good! This is an excellent thing to do if she felt unable to raise the child herself.
6 (54.5%)

Neutral, neither good nor bad.
1 (9.1%)

Bad. She should have raised the child.
1 (9.1%)

Adoption is extremely rare or nonexistent in my culture.
0 (0.0%)

Other, which I may choose to elaborate on in the comments.
3 (27.3%)

Mermaid points

Oct. 21st, 2017 04:22 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Moomin convinced me that the HCA Little Mermaid story is actually amazing because she just feels her feelings but isn't an asshole, doesn't get married, and becomes foam on the sea and an air spirit who helps people so basically her story NEVER ENDS and she is a SUPERHERO who flies around with air powers, doing good in the world! I started out with the complete opposite point of view on this story.

Also when he said he thought of me in relation to her feeling like she is walking on knives..... i actually think of that sometimes so that kind of touched me.

He is also reading Gilgamesh and some Bible stuff for philosophy class and seems to be keeping up in his other math class! So nice to have him here even for a day. <3

write stuff

Oct. 21st, 2017 05:25 pm
isis: Write what you're told! (micah wright)
[personal profile] isis
Author reveals have just happened for [community profile] femslashex and were yesterday for [community profile] crossovering, so I can cop to the fics I wrote. The discerning reader will notice similarities. :-)

Footsteps in the Sea (5926 words) by Isis
Fandom: Black Sails
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Captain Flint/Thomas Hamilton
Characters: Captain Flint (Black Sails), Thomas Hamilton
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Rivers of London Fusion, Supernatural Elements, Post-Canon, Genius Loci, Crossovering Exchange
Summary: James and Thomas escape from the plantation, find passage to the islands, are caught in a storm at sea, and make a bargain with Neptune.

When I saw [archiveofourown.org profile] linndechir's crossovering prompt for Ocean God Flint, I knew I wanted to write that. I didn't actually game the system, but there were only two people I could write for, and so I was delighted to get this assignment. My favorite part of the Rivers of London series is the existence of the Rivers themselves, the idea of genius loci who rule over their small parts of the natural world. Plus I had always wanted to tackle James and Thomas's immediate post-canon story.

The beach on which Thomas and James find themselves after escaping the plantation, by the way, is where the Bull River empties into Wassaw Sound. The beach where Thomas awakens after the shipwreck is in the Berry Islands of the Bahamas.

The Pirate and the Mermaid (8628 words) by Isis
Fandom: Original Work
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Pirate/Mermaid
Characters: Original Female Character(s)
Additional Tags: Mermaids, Pirates, Supernatural Elements, Cultural Differences, Shipwrecks
Summary: "Of course," said Charlie pettishly. As if she was just a stupid kid, asking stupid questions. "How was I supposed to know? You're the first mermaid I've ever met."

"Well, you're the first woman-with-legs I've ever met!" snapped the mermaid.

Oh, man, this was the most fun thing to write ever. I kind of ignored [archiveofourown.org profile] elstaplador's specific prompts and just keyed off the idea of a (female) pirate and a mermaid, and although I had the (general) ending in mind from the beginning, the story went there in its own way. As I said to [personal profile] sovay it ended up being sort of YA femslash, more of a story about two young women from different cultures hanging out and discovering commonalities than anything sexy or overtly supernatural. It's mostly mermaid worldbuilding, really, and I had a kick doing that. (I actually had a whole sexytimes idea in my head - more worldbuilding, from the physical POV - but that ended up not fitting into the story!)

In other writing news, I've been cheerfully writing lots of little stories and ficlets for [community profile] trickortreatex, but it's about time to turn my keyboard to [community profile] yuletide.

(no subject)

Oct. 21st, 2017 06:09 pm
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
Black-footed kitten in case you need some cute today.

(I'm at an annual party where all our friends congregate and socialize, boardgame, and LAN game for 3 days and it's nice but GAH THERE ARE PEOPLE EVERYWHEREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE)

cultural difference?

Oct. 21st, 2017 04:35 pm
kindkit: Medieval image of a mapmaker constructing a globe (Fandomless: Mapmaker)
[personal profile] kindkit
I've started watching the Danish TV series Dicte, about a crime reporter who keeps getting entangled in her own stories and ends up helping the police solve crimes. (The police, on the whole, would rather she stopped.) So far it's a pretty mediocre show, but Lars Brygmann (aka Thomas LaCour from Rejseholdet) is in it.

Anyway, in the fourth episode of S1, mild spoilers )

Release 0.9.207: Change Log

Oct. 21st, 2017 05:43 pm
[syndicated profile] ao3_news_feed

We recently fixed MOBI downloads on Kindle, solved some miscellaneous bugs, and cleaned up some code around the site.

Credits

  • Coders: Elz, cosette, james_, redsummernight, Sarken, ticking instant
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, Elz, james_, Sarken
  • Testers: Aline, bingeling, Lady Oscar, redsummernight

Details

Works & Comments

  • [AO3-5202] - MOBI downloads were suddenly failing on Kindle devices, due to a tiny little typo that had slipped into our code unnoticed. Now that we've noticed it, you should be able to download MOBI files again.
  • [AO3-5199] - On October 5, we had to temporarily disable downloads when we mysteriously ran out of disk space. It turned out that was because our clean-up code was broken and we weren't deleting HTML files after generating them. We've fixed that.
  • [AO3-1259] - The option to remove yourself as the co-creator of a chapter was buried on the page for reordering a work's chapters. Now it's also in a much more sensible location: the chapter edit page. (And as a bonus, when you remove yourself as a co-creator, the byline on the chapter will actually update now!)
  • [AO3-5197] - Works with no content at all (near impossible to create, but sometimes databases do weird things) were causing word count errors, since the counter wasn't prepared for having nothing to count. It just counts to 0 now.
  • [AO3-5125] - We've added a Rake task to map imported works to their counterparts on the original archives. Now if we host the original domain, individual work links from the original site will redirect to the copy of the work on AO3, as they should.
  • [AO3-177] - Comments marked as spam were counted toward the total number of comments, even though they were hidden from view. We've made sure that wherever a comment count shows up, it now displays the number without spam.

Skins & Frontend

  • [AO3-4376] - We had CSS-related documentation in a few different places, laying out information for creating your own skins to style the Archive or the content of works. This information is now all in one place.
  • [AO3-4840] - Archive skins created with our Skin Wizard didn't properly style the Reindex Work button (visible to wranglers). Now they do!
  • [AO3-5183] - The admin page for approved site skins was timing out, so we made a small performance tweak and now it's greased lightning.
  • [AO3-4658] - The login page looked wonky on small screens and made it harder to log in on mobile devices. It's all pretty now!

Misc.

  • [AO3-5201] - When accessing the Archive through our HTTP option (relevant when we switch to a secure default protocol for good), it was impossible to submit a page from the insecure.archiveofourown.org domain to Abuse. Now it is!
  • [AO3-4976] - In autocomplete fields, tags with ampersands (e.g. "Abbi & Ilana") would sometimes show up with a semicolon after the &, which looked untidy. We've tidied that up!
  • [AO3-4004] - Trying to use the tab button to navigate from certain autocomplete fields after entering a tag would jump you back to the top of the page in some browsers. You should now be able to reach the correct field.
  • [AO3-5082] - The test for removing oneself as a co-creator of a work or series would fail sometimes (but not always), making the test not very helpful. That's fixed now.
  • [AO3-5173] - There was some unused code lingering from a feature we had previously removed. It lingers no more.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

ironymaiden: (beholder)
[personal profile] ironymaiden

Baby alpaca, no filter. something i saw