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D was over last night, so I suggested watching The Manchurian Candidate. He hadn't seen either, so I thought we should go with the original. I'd watched it for history class in highschool and remember being absolutely gripped.

Here's the thing. It's really clunky. Really clunky. The acting is stiff (with notable exceptions for Angela Lansbury and Vivien Leigh, who got top billing and about 15 lines of dialogue). The camera angles are ostentatious but artless. Things are constantly out of focus. I was retroactively even more impressed by Citizen Kane for its ability to pull off deep field focus, cause this movie utterly fails at it, and it was made thirty years later.

And the structure, too--oof. There's a third-person narrator for exactly three scenes. I assumed it was a news reel until it started talking about Frank Sinatra's nightmares. And then...it disappears for the rest of the film. The first hour to hour and a half is exposition. Some flashbacks, but mostly just lengthy expository speeches. I understand why it's reputed to be one of the worst books ever written. This film is also full of people proposing marriage at first sight, and everyone else just rolling with that.

But for all that, it is completely unmatched for its capturing of a political moment. I'm going to rewatch the remake tonight to see, in direct comparison, how it solves the narrative shortcomings. But a movie made in 2004 comes from a very different context than one from 1962.

So definitely watch the original.

I think it's striking, too, in that the movies that were made in the 60s that we still watch were remarkable or ground breaking in some way. It's easy to forget what they were remarkable in comparison to. We don't generally watch the run of the mill cinema from the era. So being thrust into something that mishandles black and white and can't focus the camera is jarring. (Also people blink SO MUCH. I don't know why, but it's distracting.)

ETA: just rewatched the 2004 remake. It's an all around better film, but somehow less special for being a more standard paranoid psychological thriller. Does some very interesting things with the original, including giving the women way more agency, and not having everyone act like a nut. (Seriously, in the original--people just don't behave that way. I don't mean the brainwashing. I mean everything else. I don't think the author understood how human beings work.) One hundred percent worth watching both, especially to watch Liev Schreiber and Denzel Washington both slowly breakdown in extreme close up staring straight into camera. Seriously, they are both magnificent actors, and well worth watching.
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On New Year's Eve, I went with mithras to see Othello at the New York Theatre Workshop, starring David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig. I...don't ever need to see Othello again, I don't think. That was pretty much perfect.

This was a ridiculously hard ticket to get--mithras queued online as soon as the tickets went on sale, and in the course of the five minutes it took her to get to the front of the queue, we watched every single performance sell out, except for New Year's Eve. When we got there, we saw why.

The theater only seats 220 people, and these seats were arrayed on three sides of the stage, in bleachers. The first row was on the level with the stage, such that people on those seats had to keep their feet tucked in lest they trip the actors.

We were in the first row.

Yeah.

To watch such amazing actors from sometimes only a foot away was incredible. You could see thoughts entering their heads as they spoke--the moment when it occurs to Iago to use Cassio's vapid affection, the moment when Othello begins to believe his wife is unfaithful. It takes great actors to make the words of Shakespeare seem like natural thought, and to add layers to them beyond what is obvious on the page. And that's what we got from every member of the cast.

It was staged as a military barracks, with cast members lounging about on sleeping pads in the background of most scenes, playing guitar hero, or bench pressing, or cleaning their guns. The lighting was largely done with handheld lights--cell phones, camp lanterns, headlamps. The entire first scene was in pitch blackness. (And it says something about Daniel Craig, that I spent it thinking we'd gotten the understudy, because I didn't recognize the voice of Iago.)

The casual misogyny and masculinity of this backdrop informed Othello's character, so when you first see him explode at Cassio, you can see the violence he is capable of and will enact at the end of the play.

And it wasn't just Oyelowo and Craig that were brilliant. I've never liked Cassio before, but this actor made him both funny and pitiable. And Roderigo--god, Roderigo stole the show. Every time Iago manipulated him, he had this look on his face of deep skepticism, but like a mouse mesmerized by a snake, not quite able to pull away. Even his line, "Nobody come? Then shall I bleed to death," got a laugh.

What I was most struck by, though, is in the past I watched this play pitying Othello. But this time I watched it silently yelling at Desdemona to run away. Watching a man murder his wife while she's begging for just another hour? God. That's awful to watch. Makes me wonder why people quote "loved not wisely, but too well," out of context, as it is what Othello uses to justify his murder.

So yeah. That was incredible. In a year in which I saw Hamilton, I'm going to have to put this down as the highlight of my theater-going.
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Another year, another Yuletide fic written at the absolute last minute. I used this as an assignment to rewatch the series, including venturing into season three, which I never watched in the initial airing, having given up somewhere between the sentient plants and the prehistoric crocodile in season two. (Let's just say I fully understand why Roy Scheider quit.) I stand by the first season, though, as solidly middle-of-the-road television. That world-building and those characters deserved so much better than they got.

Anyway. Fic!

Title: Surely You're Joking, Dr. Wolenczak
Fandom: seaQuest DSV
Rating: Gen
Summary: In an alternate future off of the season one canon, Dr. Lucas Wolenczak writes his memoirs. With the most sincere flatter meant for Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman.

Surely You're Joking, Dr. Wolenczak
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Dear Yuletide writer—
Thank you for writing a story for me! In general, I love angst, and stories focused on characters. I love reading about people negotiating their relationship with each other. It's a thing. My do not wants are rape/noncon, character death, torture, graphic violence, extended medical descriptions, bloodplay. I hope I've given you enough detail below to get your bunnies started. Slash, gen, and het are all fine, as are threesomes and moresomes.

Constantine (TV)
This show was gone before its time. Really I just want team bonding between John, Chas, and Zed. Or! Chas and Zed getting to know each other without John as their only thing in common. Or! More Chas angst around his particular curse. The show gave us some, but I'd love more angsty backstory of how his and John's friendship got from that moment to where it is in the show.

Almost Human
Another show tragically gone before its time. What I'd love more than anything is a story that made sense of the soup of this show's worldbuilding. (The fact that they aired it out of order didn't help.) What is the wall? What happened during the revolt? Anything that capitalizes on all the tantalizing hints. With Dorian and John of course--the charisma of those two was off the charts.

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Did I mention I love angst? Cause this movie (and the book--I've read that too, so have no objections to book canon) brings the aaaaaaaaangst. Really anything that rolls around in Edmond's super-emo, competence-porn awesomeness. (And now I'm just envisioning a Person of Interest AU where Reese is the Count and--no! No! No crossovers for yuletide! I will not break the rules! ...But that would be awesome, right?)
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My work has a women's group that has a book club. I recently asked the local bookstore guy what books would be a good pick for such a group. Which is how I ended up reading

Title: #Girlboss
Author: Sophia Amoruso
Summary: Founder of Nasty Gal and millionaire in her thirties writes about...stuff.

I am giving up on this book. It is extremely short. It is nonetheless extremely annoying. The author's problems are threefold:
1 - She cannot write.
2 - She has no idea why her business succeeded and thus cannot share any useful insight.
3 - She has a stunning amount of unchecked privilege.

Point the first
I give you a passage from her description of some of the jobs she worked before Nasty Gal:
Part of my job was to wear gloves and massage mayonnaise into the tuna. Sexy! I'd slap the tuna into a bowl and pour out half a gallon of mayonnaise, put gloves on, and massage the mayo in with my hands.

That is two sentences (three, if you count "Sexy!") that say the exact same thing. This is how I know this book wasn't ghostwritten. No decent writer would set up that second sentence with the first one.

Point the second
It's really hard to chart the path that led here, but it happened, and I did it.

If that's literally all the insight you have into how you built a successful business, why the fuck are you writing a book about it? All Amoruso seems to understand about her success is that she just seems to be good at this.

Yes, it's true: Hundreds of thousands of businesses fail. Mine succeeded. Was that all just because I "got lucky"? I don't really think so.

This passage continues with a description of how it wasn't luck, luck would imply she did nothing, and she worked a ton. Thus missing the point that the owners of those other hundreds of thousands of businesses also worked a ton and failed anyway.

She then starts talking about the power of magic and how if you write a sigil with what you want and carry it around with you you'll succeed cause... ??? Obviously this has objectively worked, cause look at where she is! She keeps saying she knows it's not reeeeeeal (airquotes), but it's totally real. It's not the Secret, that's bullshit, it's a totally different theory that if you think positive thoughts you'll get everything you want. This is the point where I stopped reading.

Point the third
I'll just let Amoruso lay this one out for you:
When you're asking for a raise, [f]irst, be really honest with yourself and make sure that you deserve the raise that you're asking for.

Thank you, the anti-Sheryl Sandberg.

When I returned from Hawaii...I found out that someone had ordered brand-new Herman Miller Aeron chairs for the entire office. ... I happened to have a Herman Miller Aeron chair in my office. To me, it was a rite of passage. ... There was no way that I was going to have interns rolling around on these things!

Oh, fuck you.

When your time spent making money is significantly greater than your time spent spending money, you will be amazed at how much you can save without even really thinking about it.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck yoooooooooooooooooooooou.

She also has a whole section on how she used to be a shoplifting anarchist, and she still really is an anarchist, she just likes nice stuff, you know, so she's an anarchist with millions of dollars and a Porsche. Fuck the system. Right.

To top it off, she has a lot of epigraphs, including this one:
There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.--Calvin Coolidge

Did you really just quote Calvin Coolidge on fiscal responsibility? Calvin Coolidge. The guy who presided over the start of the Great Depression and probably said that in a speech to some people in a bread line. That's the guy you want to quote on the importance of budgeting.

I'd also like to point out that her entire business is built on women paying ridiculous mark ups for clothes they don't need. And then she's going to write a book lecturing about how you don't really need to buy those shoes? Dear lady, you realize it's probably your biggest customers reading this book, right? Maybe you don't want to call them idiots for their spending habits.

In conclusion. Do not read this book. Do not recommend it to friends. Especially don't recommend it to women. This book is the opposite of feminist. Unless it proves that women entrepreneurs can be clueless privileged windbags just like men. In which case...progress?
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I went to two shows in the past two days, neither of which I had a ticket for before day of, cause sometimes that's what being a New Yorker means.

Kinky Boots - It's facile, it's forgettable, it's fluff, but dear god is it fun. Just, a load of fun. My only objection is to the sound design, because when the rock band came in, I couldn't understand any of the words. This is not a play in which that matters, but it's still annoying. Also, I want ALL THE BOOTS.

How to Be an American - This was a short-run debut musical in concert (ie, with book), based on the life of George Washington Plunckett, one of the members of Tammany Hall. I've actually read the book it's based on, which I think makes me the audience. For this, D and I got rush tickets for $20 about 5 minutes before curtain, and that's about how much it was worth. It was only an hour, which is good, because it had no plot. It was structured as a faux Tammany Hall meeting, as an excuse to deliver bits of Plunckett's actual speeches (for example, the difference between honest graft and dishonest graft, the finer points of repeat voting at the polls, and the definition of an honest man as someone who once bought stays bought). It opened with a historically accurate but nonetheless cringe-inducing faux Native American set piece, where they sing about how "the only tribe of Indians who will never die at all/is Tammany Hall" and just--oh god. Sometimes I forget, with how bad things are today, how much worse they have been in the past.

They gave us little American flags to wave during the "rally," and at the end, we all stood and sang the national anthem. I recognize that there is a protest going on around the national anthem right now, but I felt this was an appropriately satirical context to sing it. First--what a dick song. Really. It's only singable by actual singers. It's impossible for everyone else. Second--after the play, someone tapped me on the shoulder to compliment me on my voice. This is not unexpected; it happens every time I sing in a crowd (for example, any time I go to church). What was unexpected is that she asked me for my business card because she needs to hire someone to sing the national anthem at events. Ooookay. I gave her my spam email, but I am not a professional singer. I just want to know what these "events" are.

Hamilton

Sep. 4th, 2016 01:16 pm
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On Tuesday, I saw Hamilton.

It felt like I spent the evening on a different planet. I bought the ticket a year ago, because I realized if I wanted to see it, I should buy the ticket before the Tony nominations, and I refused to pay more than $100. This meant clicking through every single performance till I found the first one with a single ticket for $100. Since I bought the ticket so long ago, I've had several dreams about seeing it, and I was incredibly anxious I'd forget the date or the time or lose the ticket or they wouldn't let me in or something. Even when I was waiting in line, I didn't believe it until they actually scanned my ticket and let me into the theater.

There was also the anxiety of, I was pretty sure this was my only chance to see the show. Since I'm an accountant, to put it an accountant way, the book value of my ticket, that is the historical cost, was $100. But the replacement value was $400 or $600. So I kept thinking, what if I get a headache? What if I have to pee? What if the people sitting next to me are jerks?

What I'm saying is, I see a lot of live theater, and the little imperfections are just part of it and usually don't bother me much, but because this was HAMILTON, and because I had to wait so long, OMG WHAT IF IT ISN'T PERFECT.

Then I got into theater, and holy crap, I've never seen merch move like this. I mean, it makes sense. If you spend $80 on a theater ticket, no, you're not going to spend another $40 on a sweatshirt. But if you spent $2,000 to take your family to see it? Then hell yes, you're going to buy a $35 T-shirt. At least then you'll have something tangible for what you just spent.

All this meant that people clogged up the lobby; you could barely move. The restrooms were also in the basement. I was sitting in the rear mezzanine, which was three flights up. I ran up and down those stairs three times--twice before the show, because I am an anxious dooby, and once at intermission. The bathroom line for intermission wrapped all the way into the orchestra section and down the aisle. I booked it from my seat as soon as the lights came up and still only made it back just before the second act started.

Then the seats themselves, which were just the minimum size I could wedge myself into. My thigh bone was too long for the distance between the rows, which meant it was one of those where you have to twist your feet to the sides and angle your legs and that's the one position you can sit in. For the next three hours.

The atmosphere was also something else. It was like a rock concert or opening night of a Marvel movie. The lights went down and everyone was like WOOOOOO! Every time a new person came on stage WOOOOO! And I was in the nosebleeds, which is where the true fans are, the ones who are just grateful to be in the theater. It was electric. In all my performances, there have only been one or two times when I could tell the audience was on board like that, and there was energy between them and the stage. And Hamilton gets that electricity every night?

The show then has so many words, you have to watch it with laser-like focus, attention unwavering or you'll miss something. All of this to say, I entered into an alternate physical reality that ran by its own rules.

Then the show itself.

I managed to avoid listening to the score at all (except for snatches of three songs) before watching the show, and that was the right choice for me to experience. Odd to talk about spoilers when it's based on historical fact, but a) I knew the broad strokes of the history, that doesn't mean I knew the granular details, and b) even if I had known all of that, the choices made in presenting the story are their own kind of spoiler.

So the rest of this is going under a spoiler cut )

I realize I am late to the party on this one. It's so weird to suddenly be a newbie in a fandom that I've strenuously avoided so far. So I know it's been discussed to death by everybody already. I'm just going to enjoy getting to know the soundtrack recording, and finally getting to dive into this really awesome thing.

Real World

Sep. 3rd, 2016 12:25 pm
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Back in July, I picked up a bunch of used CDs from the Princeton Record Exchange (still my favorite music store--seriously, if you're ever in Princeton, check it out) and have been slowly working my way through the stack.

So far the real gem was Afro Celt Sound System. I looked into it a little bit, and discovered they're released by Real World Records, a label founded by Peter Gabriel that focuses on world music (and that means the whole world, including Europe and North America). Based on that, the next time the local used record store set up a stand at Grove St, I scanned the boxes for Real World releases (they have a distinct color band on the spine, so are easy to id) and picked up a few more.

So far, everything has been excellent (Jocelyn Pook, Geoffrey Oryema). I've never been a fan of a record label before, but I'm thinking I will repeat this plan in the future, and focus on picking up Real World records whenever I'm buying used CDs. I'm sure there are some stinkers in the over 200 albums they've released, but whoever gives the musical direction to the label seems to have tastes very close to mine.
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I watch a lot of documentaries, and I always mean to post reviews and never do, so I think I'm going to try posting five minute reviews as I go. Here's the first:

The Galapagos Affair
When half a dozen people get fed up with society and independently decide to move to the same extremely remote island so that no one can ever tell them what to do ever again, it goes about as well as you'd expect. And by that I mean two, possibly three, murders. John Galt eat your heart out.

Also, it turns out that if you completely cut yourself off from civilization (for real, not the Thoreau way), you don't get a life of contemplation, you get a life of unending manual labor and starvation.

The fact that everyone involved in this series of events were Germans who walked away from civilization in the thirties means they weren't actually wrong about the way they felt things were heading. Not that they did much better on their own.
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If you are not yet mad enough at mining companies, governmental bureaucracy, or how this country continues to treat Native Americans, have I got a book for you! I just finished Yellow Dirt by Judy Pasternak, which is about uranium mining on the Navajo reservation. I picked it up after my trip to Utah--I even went out to Monument Valley in the reservation, in the middle of the uranium mining belt, and had never heard anything about this.

The short version is, the Navajo and Hopi reservation in the Four Corners area is home to the largest deposits of uranium ore in the United States. Starting with the Manhattan project and continuing through the Cold War, there was a uranium boom that led to the opening of hundreds of mines throughout the reservation. Despite the tribe's attempts to regulate, to require that mining companies restore the land, and, frankly, to get some of the wealth coming out of the soil, they got screwed. Most of the money went to the mining corporations (including one partly owned by George H.W. Bush's daddy, so some of the Bush wealth is uranium wealth).

Miners, of course, had no idea what the dangers were and literally zero attempts were made to make it safe for them. When the uranium boom wound down in the sixties, the mining companies left their open pits and mine tailings as is. And so over the last fifty years, we've been watching a grand experiment in what long-term radiation poisoning does to a population. If you think I'm being flip, I'm not--health service employees intentionally hid the dangers from miners so that they could collect untainted evidence of the consequences of uranium mining.

This isn't just a book about an environmental disaster, though. This is about a group of people, the Navajo, that the US government spent hundreds of years trying to wipe off the planet, and when that didn't work, tried to force them off their land. The Navajo won an almost unique 1868 treaty that allowed them to return to their homeland, where they've remained.

And now America's wars, gung ho patriotism, and greed poisoned that land. It's like the uranium mining was designed to accomplish both goals: kill the Navajo, take their land. It's awful. And the book is full of decades of people, both Navajo and white allies, trying to get something to be done to a collective shrug from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and an alphabet soup of government bureaus who agreed it was bad, but wasn't their problem. For example, the EPA regulated mills, but not the mines. White people work at mills. Navajo work at the mines. Or, there was a town outside of the reservation that had a number of houses built out uranium mining leftovers. The EPA paid to tear down all the contaminated houses, clean the soil, and build a contamination free town. There were also contaminated houses built on the reservation. Despite those houses being identified at the time the white town was cleaned up, it took forty years for the EPA to start cleaning up the Navajo homes. They didn't try very hard to warn them about the danger, either. And when they did build uncontaminated homes, one couldn't even be used by its new owner as she was handicapped and they hadn't included a wheelchair ramp.

And in the meantime, entire extended families are dying of cancer in their fifties. Babies are stillborn or being born with crippling, life-limiting disabilities. The book can't even quantify how bad the impact was because the first studies were only started at the time of publication.

The book has flaws--as it is a saga that covers seventy years, there are hundreds of players. I constantly lost track of who she was talking about. The author also positions herself, and her articles on the subject, as the deciding factor that finally got something done, which is kinda bull.

The fact is, this is still a disaster. It will take decades to even attempt to decontaminate the land, and it's doubtful federal authorities have the money or patience for that. (If you're thinking, that's what the Superfund is for, think again. The Superfund has decided over and over that too few people live on the reservation to be worth its attention.) The Navajo Nation has passed a universal ban on uranium mining. But that hasn't stopped efforts to start mining again just off the reservation. Because we all know that a poisoned aquifer in a desert will obey legal boundaries and stay out of the Navajo land.

Con.txt

Apr. 23rd, 2016 01:16 pm
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For the first time in eight years, I'm going to Con.txt! Talk to me, fandom that is still on LJ/DW--who else is going?
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Yuletide reveal! I got Pretender, and of course I took a TV show where the main character spends every episode as a soldier, fire fighter, policeman, doctor, and chose to make him an accountant. My biases, they are obvious.

Entertainment Weekly recently did an article of the iconic show for each of the fifty states. For Delaware, it was Pretender, with this as the explanation: "Well, something had to take place in Delaware." Yup.

Title: A Greater Sense of Security Than Warranted
Fandom: Pretender
Tags: Sydney, Jarod, pre-series

Summary: "They are all related. Because I chose them. I’m the common factor."


A Greater Sense of Security Than Warranted
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Title: Let the Right One In
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Genre: Horror
Rating: Is it possible to go negative?

Review: I went to my local bookstore around Halloween and asked for a book that would scare me. The clerk recommended this one. As I'd heard such fantastic things about the movie, I felt sure this would be a good read. It isn't.

Basic plot: A pre-pubescent vampire shows up in a suburb of Sweden. Hijinks--and by that I mean death--ensue.

I asked for something that would scare. This did not. Disgust me? Yes, frequently. But scare me, no. Because god forbid any scene should pass without me knowing what everyone's bowels and penis are doing. I say penis because there are almost no women in this book, but I'll get to that.

The vampire, Eli, is spectacularly bad at being a vampire. Eli's recruited a pedophile to go out and get blood, and the pedophile is spectacularly bad at doing so. In this mythology, anyone who is bitten by the vampire itself and doesn't have its spinal cord severed becomes a vampire. Despite knowing this, and despite there being obvious ways around it (stab them and let the blood flow onto the ground, then drink it from there), Eli goes around infecting half a dozen people who, in addition to threatening Eli's life directly, make the whole keeping vampire's secret thing rather difficult. (Asquerade-may!) And we're supposed to believe that Eli has somehow made it hundreds of years, when they can't make it a month in this one stupid town without almost blowing the whole thing?

The other main character, Oskar, is a bullied twelve-year-old boy with incontinence issues (see above regarding bowel and penis focus). Oskar meets Eli, and is maybe a little in love. Oskar is also obsessed with serial killers and fantasises about murdering his bullies. This lays the groundwork for some interesting development. Unfortunately we don't get it. Oskar does stand up to his bullies, but never effectively, and remains bullied until the end of the book. Oskar also doesn't really ever deal with the moral issue of being friends with a killer. There's some revulsion, but Oskar never definitively decides it's okay, or that it's not okay--he just decides it's not as important as Eli liking him. So over the course of almost five hundred pages, Oskar gets repeatedly beat up, and still needs a protector at the end. Not so much for character growth.

The book has many other characters who all get the sort of character development horror authors love giving right before offing them. As if it will be more shocking or disturbing if we get the two-page history of that person's life first. The key amongst these are a group of drunkards. I thought they would turn out to be the key to the resolution of the plot, which would be clever, but no. They stumble about and some of them die and that's the end of it.

Then there's the enormous fail. I'm putting this behind a spoiler cut because some would consider it a spoiler, though the fact that it's something that can be a spoiler is itself offensive, but anyway--trigger warning. )

This book has been sitting on my floor for a while waiting for me to write up a hate review of it, and now here you are. I don't know if the movie is better or just repeats the same flaws. But do yourself a favor and skip this book. Unless your idea of a fun read is spending a lot of time inside the head of a pedophile as he masturbates to things I don't want to write here, in which case--uh, don't tell me.
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On the train yesterday, I sat behind an American and three Austrians, all in their twenties. They had quite an interesting discussion of what the word "mushy" means. And then one of the Austrians said that when she got in the plan in Vienna, the moon was one phase, but it was a different phase when they landed here, because Vienna and New York were so far from each other.

To which the American--who, it turns out was a grade school astronomy teacher--was like, no, nope. Then he got them all to hold out their beer cans in a mini solar system to explain how the phases of the moon work.
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I had a dream that the role of Han Solo in Star Wars was played by Jeff Goldblum.

That would have been a very different movie. Veeeeery different. But I kind of want to see it.
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I saw a poster that Bones and Sleepy Hollow are doing a crossover episode. Um...what? It's been many years since I stopped watching Bones, but I'm pretty sure it's a straight procedural. And Sleepy Hollow has witches and demons and magic time travel and the apocalypse. So...how exactly is mushing these two worlds together a good idea?
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Dear authors of Daredevil fanfic:
1. There are no alleys in Manhattan. Not even in alternate reality dystopian Hell's Kitchen. There are no alleys. Sketchy warehouse districts, sure. But NO ALLEYS.
2. They type of people that are Matt and Foggy's clientele do not own cars. Nor would their neighbors. And if they do own a car, they'd probably keep it at their parents' out on Long Island or in New Jersey and have to take a train to get to it. Cars are not a thing for people in Manhattan unless they are wealthy.
3. Hell's Kitchen is RIGHT THE FUCK NEXT TO MIDTOWN. Seriously, look at Google Maps. Avengers Tower would be like a fifteen minute walk back to Hell's Kitchen. If someone was dropped at Avengers Tower, they wouldn't need to call someone to pick them up. It's not Far Rockaway. The neighborhoods are literally next door to each other.
3a. Walking and taking the subway is a faster way of getting around Manhattan than any sort of vehicular transport. I walk up Sixth Avenue every day and I beat the cars driving on it. Taking a cab usually takes longer than the subway.

I know none of these New York setting complaints are new, but I seem to have found a whole new set of authors who know nothing about New York. Gah, the calling friends to pick you up to take you from midtown to Hell's Kitchen one really bothers me. That's a back button right there. If I called a friend to drive me that distance, I'd be waiting there two to three hours while they schlepped to get their car and come back.

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