starlady: (bibliophile)
What I've Read
Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam (2012) - It's closing in on the end of the Sirens Reading Challenge, and this is one of a few books I've read in the last few weeks that are on that list. This book won the 2012 Tiptree Award, and while I agree with everything the jury said about the book, these stories also, by and large, just weren't my thing. I don't particularly care for myths, and I think the mythic aspect of Salaam's writing is part of why most of the stories in the collection didn't quite click for me.

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau Wilce (2007) - This book, on the other hand, I loved so instantaneously from the first page that I found myself rationing the chapters to prolong the reading experience. Many people have read these books already, but the stories are set in an alternate 19thC version of San Francisco, the Republic of Califa, which is under the suzerainty of the Huitzil Empire after a losing war nearly a generation ago. Flora Fyrdraaca is the youngest daughter of the Republic's leading general, and her mother's stubbornness (matched by her own) gives Flora a lot of problems, particularly since she doesn't want to follow family tradition and enter the Army but rather become a Ranger. The fact that the Corps was disbanded at the end of said war doesn't phase her, which says something about Flora. There are many things to love in this book--gender equality! impressive 19thC worldbuilding (and yes, the 19thC was pretty great in some ways, and Wilce taps into many of them)--but what I really loved, missing my California home as I do at the moment, was how freaking Bay Area it was. The Bay Area drives me up the wall, but I love it at the same time, and Wilce's not!San Francisco is a real pleasure to spend time in for anyone who's ever thought that Emperor Norton was pretty great. At least there are sequels!

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link (2014) - I adore Kelly Link's short stories, and the fact that these were all bundled together in a neat package was almost enough to make me ignore the fact that most of them are quite old--the newest story in the collection, the one most obviously drawn from Link's own life experience, is also the only one that's never been published elsewhere. Compared to Pretty Monsters or Magic for Beginners, this collection is more somber and less optimistic, but I loved every word.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985) - I'd never read this book before, it's true; somehow I avoided it on summer reading lists, and for the past few years I've also felt that I didn't need to read the book; I could just read Twitter to find out the latest crap that GOP politicians have said they want to do. Having now read the actual novel, well, it's deservedly a classic, and I appreciated some of the stuff that never makes it into discussions of the book, particularly the skewering of academia at the end, though I also raise my eyebrows at the idea that anyone could take Atwood's claims to not be a feminist seriously. I don't think the book is too propagandistic to be effective, but I do think the background details of "ALL the apocalypses at once" were a bit much. And despite the frequent citations of the book on Twitter in reference to current Republican politicians--which are absolutely germane, to be clear, in a way that's hugely depressing to compare with 30 years ago--I also sort of don't think that this is the failure mode of the United States anymore. The breakup of the United States into little theocracies was an article of faith among science fiction writers in the 1980s (it's in the background of all of Gibson's novels from the period, for example), but I think the situation has changed sufficiently that there's no carbon copy of the Republic of Gilead in our future.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (2013) - This is a very well deserved winner of the World Fantasy Award, in my opinion, though it was also clearly written in a very specific historical moment that even two years later feels very distant. The story concerns one mixed-race Saudi hacker, Alif, and his trials and tribulations trying to stay two steps ahead of the Kingdom's security forces, led by the sinister Hand, and to patch up his romance with an upper-class girl--all of which is made more complicated when jinni get involved. To be honest, I didn't really feel very emotionally involved in Alif's journey to maturity, but I was very interested in his friend and neighbor Dinah, the American convert they meet (whose story seems to be quite similar to Wilson's own background), and the ways in which fantastical elements were densely interwoven with politics, history, programming, and some very pointed comments about the United States' recent exploits in the region. Definitely recommended.

What I'll Read Next
The only thing left on my Sirens list is Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock! After that, I have Court of Fives, The House of Shattered Wings, and The Fifth Season winging their way to my tablet!
starlady: Carl's house floating above the fields (always an adventure)
I went to see this with my friend B yesterday and we were, on the whole, underwhelmed. Inside Out isn't actively bad--I was entertained while I was watching it, and I never felt bored--but it's also, despite many clever concepts and a really earnest attempt at dramatizing cognition, pretty thin as a story. There are other problems, but that's one of them.

The central plot of the movie involves the anthropomorphized emotions of 11 year old Reilly, whose parents (who sure as fuck don't look like millionaires--which they must be to afford that house--but then, who in the Bay Area does) move the family from Minnesota to San Francisco, setting off the first truly extended emotional turmoil in Reilly's hitherto happy existence (dare I say, she led the life of Reilly. Har har. Har). Inside Reilly's head, Joy and Sadness get shunted out of the command center due to Joy trying to make Reilly be happy all the time, and they spend the rest of the movie trying to make it back and save the core aspects of Reilly's personality while Fear, Anger, and Disgust do a mixed bag of holding down the fort in their absence.

It certainly felt like Pixar forgot some of their own rules for compelling storytelling here; the central realization--being sad is a necessary part of life--doesn't really arise organically from the interactions between Sadness and Joy in the same brilliant way that earlier Pixar films accomplished so neatly. There's also the question of character: namely, who is a character in the movie, and who's the protagonist? Joy and Sadness are a bit too 2D to be characters, but because we see the emotions literally controlling Reilly's reactions, she doesn't really feel like a character either, and in fact the whole setup was a bit mechanistic for my taste. (Side note: Where's rationality in this model?) So the film's dramatic focus oddly lacks a center. I also don't think this is sexist; we get peeks into the mechanistic setup of other people's minds at various points, and everyone is in the same boat; the question is merely which emotion is in charge. (And maybe it is sexist that for Reilly's mom it's Sadness and for Reilly's dad it's Anger; certainly Reilly's dad doesn't actually seem like an angry guy from the movie. That was a weird choice.) 

Another problem is the question of who the movie is aimed at. There's a brilliant animation interlude when Joy, Sadness, and Reilly's forgotten imaginary friend BingBong try to take a shortcut from long-term memory to imagination via abstract thought and are reduced first to Cubist caricatures, then to 2D drawings, and finally to lines, but how many kids are going to get that visual humor? The film's final line is a joke about puberty that no child is going to get and only adults will find funny. The Japanese release was accompanied by a weird video of the director talking about how he made it because he wanted to know what was going on inside his 11 year old daughter's head, and the final lines of the credits include a plea from the animators to their kids that they "Never grow up. Ever," which may have been meant ironically (Pixar are in the Bay Area, after all) but which seemed to contradict the entire implicit point of the film about how one's emotions become more complex as one ages. We were then subjected to a schmaltzy music video in Japanese before the short started, which I did find sexist--dear Pixar, please make a short with a female protagonist, it will do wonders for you, I promise.

All that being said, I did enjoy the Bay Area humor, though as B and I agreed after the film, the end credits should have shown that the bus driver's happy place was also the Brazilian helicopter pilot, since that would have been way more San Francisco even than the running bit about putting vegetables on pizza. B and I are both transplanted East Coasters and we have our own running bit about pizza in the Bay Area (which can be very good, but isn't pizza the way pizza is pizza back East), so that was pretty hilariously apropos for us. But all in all, in terms of the animated movies I've seen that depict the Bay Area while living in Japan for the past year, Big Hero 6 is a much better movie in every way.
starlady: (run)
Official race time: 1:22:45, which is faster than my 2011 time of 1:24:57, though not by as much as I was hoping--I'd been trying to take that 04:57 off my time and finish under 1:20:00, but given that I wasn't able to do much training for the past month, and my shoes are basically shot, I'm quite happy with my time. It was a lot of fun! Even more fun than 2011, I'd say; the weather was better, too, although the crush in mile 1 was much worse, but on the other hand my progress up the Hayes street hill was much, much better than last time. I was definitely slower in the second half than I could have been, so there's room for improvement. But this year I wound up keeping the guy wearing the cardboard costume (a cactus this time; in 2011 it was a birthday cake) in sight, so that's a victory. I registered on Halloween for $31.31, and I think I'll keep doing that in the future, because it is so fun, and the sponsorship this year was better than when Zazzle had it in 2011, for sure. 

But seriously, Bay to Breakers is so fun. There's something really great about it--the people cheering you on from the sidelines in costumes (and half-drunk at 9 in the morning), the people running in costumes (not so drunk anymore; they've cracked down on drunk running quite a lot). I wound up feeling that as long as San Francisco can have such public celebrations of its own weirdness, the city will not entirely lose its heart. I hope so, anyway. 

I'm still selling a bunch of genre and related books, if you're interested!
starlady: (run)
Well, the tire that got a flat had the puncture in the sidewall and it was not repairable, meaning that it cost me $110. Shit happens.

But I realized I forgot to even mention that my front bike wheel got stolen about a month ago, on a Monday night of all things. I came out of the department about 10:30pm and thought, "Whose bike is that with no front wheel? …Oh, it's mine." Luckily, I was able to make the most conveneint bus home, and the next day I walked the bike, like some bizarre performance art unicycle, down to my local bike co-op, where the new wheel and the labor to put it on and fix the brakes set me back $125. It could have been worse; since my frame was U-locked to the rack, they didn't get the whole bike, just cut the cable lock and popped the front wheel. My friend Y had her bike locked in the opposite manner, and they stole everything but her front wheel.

starlady: (run)
While I was running this morning, a dude walking his dog (and I don't mean a dude who has a mortgage, or is a grad student; he was one of those dudes where you can't tell if they live outside in the parks or are backpacking and "living off the land" around the country, but probably the former) saw me and asked for a high five as I was running past. I gave him one because it seemed easier than not, and he and his friend were both quite pleased.
starlady: the cover from Shaun Tan's The Arrival, showing an aquanaut in suburbia (i'm a stranger here myself)
I was asked about

Most favorite spots in the Bay Area for:
1. Coffee
2. Brunch
3. Drinks
4. Fancy Night Out
5. Mexican Food

Hmm, this is tough! Or maybe not so tough.

For coffee, I like Ritual Coffee in the Mission best, with Blue Bottle a very close second. Philz Coffee also does really good brewed coffee (get the Turkish, Philz way, with mint), but a beautifully pulled espresso will always win over brewed coffee in my book. (I know, I sound like a hipster.) I'm still shocked there isn't more and better coffee in Berkeley; the best espresso in town is probably Babette, in the Berkeley Art Museum.

Brunch is easy - in the East Bay, I love La Note on Shattuck in Berkeley, and in the West Bay, I'm partial to Boogaloos in the Mission. La Note does Provençal food and it is so tasty. Boogaloos is just good veggie-ish breakfast food, darn tasty.

Drinks - hmm. I think Revival actually has some of the best drinks in the Bay Area, and I also really like the cocktails at Comal. Gather does good drinks too (I actually really enjoy the PB&J, among others). I'm not as up on places for drinks in San Francisco, though I was at a good place in the Mission, on Mission Street, a few times last summer that…seems to have disappeared, or at least, I can't find it now with Google-fu. ETA: It's Southpaw.

Fancy Night Out - Revival in Berkeley, hands down. (Gather is also very good.) I also like the Mission Beach Cafe and Luna Park in the Mission. I also really like Dosa, in the Mission and in Pac Heights.

Mexican Food - Yummmmm. Um. I really like Picante in Berkeley, and also Cancun, and Gordo's for a cheap delicious burrito. In the Mission, I like El Techo de Lolinda, which has good drinks and food and a rooftop patio, and also Tacolicious, because I like tacos. Speaking of tacos, Mijita in the Ferry Building has some great fish tacos, and so does the Salsalito Taco Shop in Sausalito. Mmm. Now I want tacos. Oh, and of course, Comal in Berkeley! Some day I will get to the tacos at Fruitvale Station…anyone want to take a BART ride?
starlady: the OTW logo with text "fandom is my fandom" (fandom^2)
The OTW is hosting a meetup next Sunday, November 3, at 2631 Fulton Street in Berkeley! More details at the link, including an Eventbrite RSVP.

I'll be there, and I hope you can come too!
starlady: The Welcome to Night Vale Logo, with clouds over the moon (welcome to night vale)
But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink. Because, at midnight Monday night, the government of this intensely proud and nationalistic people will shut down, a drastic sign of political dysfunction in this moribund republic.

The capital’s rival clans find themselves at an impasse, unable to agree on a measure that will allow the American state to carry out its most basic functions. While the factions have come close to such a shutdown before, opponents of President Barack Obama’s embattled regime now appear prepared to allow the government to be shuttered over opposition to a controversial plan intended to bring the nation’s health care system in line with international standards.

-- "Potential government shutdown: How would the U.S. media report on it if it were another country?"
Meanwhile on the left coast, Berkeley campus is shuttered until further notice as a result of multiple explosions this afternoon, currently presumed to be the result of people stealing the copper wire from the campus power grid last week.

I heard about the explosions while waiting in line at Voodoo Van at Off the Grid SF at Telegraph & Haste, which since it is already burnt out and abandoned makes a great place to park half a dozen food trucks for the evening. As I said on Twitter, "I just want my goddamn chicken sandwich before the end of the world." My sister called and was quite concerned that I hadn't already left the area, four blocks south of campus. Me: "I haven't gotten my creme brulee yet! Should I get Double Brownie or the one with nutella and strawberries and creme fraiche and mixed berry compote?" Her: "You aren't taking this very seriously!" Me: "Creme brulee is very serious!" 

*toasts* Bottoms up, America!
starlady: headphones on top of colorful buttons (music (makes the people))
I went with [personal profile] epershand and some people to see Fall Out Boy at the America's Cup Pavilion last night. FALL OUT BOY ARE PRETTY GREAT LIVE. I had only ever seen Patrick Stump before--and that was one of the best shows of my life--I may have been the only person there who cared more about Patrick Stump than about Pete Wentz. I had kind of forgotten how much I liked Patrick Stump? Or rather I had forgotten that he was in Fall Out Boy? I was glad that I have gotten into the habit of just saying "yes" to concerts with E and [twitter.com profile] 15dozentimes, because though I didn't have much concept of FOB, they were awesome and I loved them almost immediately. In the middle of the set they left the stage and did a mini-acoustic set in between the floor and the stands! That was cool.

The America's Cup Pavilion is the open-air concert venue that has been erected at Pier 23 as part of the interminable America's Cup folderol, which thankfully should come to an end today when New Zealand finally kicks Larry Ellison's Team Oracle's ass. (There have been wind and rain delays, and the Kiwis are stuck at 8-1. They need nine races to win.) The America's Cup Pavilion, as a concert venue, is one of the strangest I've been to. There were no toilets, only port-a-potties, and the "floor" section of the "arena" had…AstroTurf laid down. Which was weird, but certainly helped my knees not be totally shot by the end of the night. And it was pretty cool, in the end! We were right below Coit Tower and the moon rose over the stands in the middle of the FOB set and the fact that it was open air kept the pot smoke from being too thick and it was also more than a little magical. The lighting in particular was pretty great, and also the crew were some of the most efficient I've ever seen. The concert started with Twenty-One PIlots (whatever) at 18:58 on my watch, and they changed from the opener to Panic! at the Disco in literally ten minutes flat (WHAT). (Also, the exclamation point is definitely back.) The Fall Out Boy transition took a bit longer, but was still pretty speedy. We got into the habit of blaming Larry Ellison for any and everything: "Larry Ellison, bring out Fall Out Boy! Larry Ellison, why is there no toilet paper! Damn it, Larry!" (Yes, like all right-thinking people in the Bay area, we basically loathe Larry Ellison, for so many reasons.)

I took a ton of photos--probably more than 300 on two cameras--for a class assignment, which was interesting as a way to interact with the show; I found myself way more interested in the reactions of other people than I normally am, when I'm trying to concentrate on the music. (I took 300+ photos to get five.) And then I went home and downloaded the new FOB album (yes, I know), and as usual I have the post-concert sadness that the album cuts aren't as good as they were when performed live. Come back to San Francisco, Fall Out Boy! 

(Also: it would be pretty cool if there were a venue like the America's Cup Pavilion on the waterfront permanently, I think. It's an amazing location and San Francisco could use more large-scale concert venues. No, I'm not really a fan of the Greek Theater in Berkeley, why do you ask?)
starlady: (run)
Note how the article, however, omits to mention that there are only four teams competing in this year's Larry Ellison Fest Billionaire Shindig.

In San Francisco, It's Rich Club, Poor Club

I have so many ridiculous Larry Ellison Fest/America's Cup stories. I wouldn't even know where to start.

starlady: (we're all mad here)
I was biking home and stopped at a light and the people in the car next to me had the radio tuned to the game, loud. "What's the score?" I asked them loudly.

"Four-nothing!" the driver hollered back, ecstatic.

"Awesome!" I said, grinning.

A guy biked up on my other side and turned his head. "What's the score?" he asked, and I smiled wider when I saw he was wearing a Giants championship cap.

"Four-nothing!" I told him, and he smiled too.
starlady: (basket of secrets)
This book review is part of the A More Diverse Universe BlogTour. You can see the full schedule here.

A More Diverse Universe: Celebrating People of Color Speculative Fiction Authors


Lo, Malinda. Adaptation. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012.

Disclaimer: the author is a friend of mine.

I won an ARC of this book at Mythcon 43 by virtue of the fact that I knew that Mulder's sister was named Samantha, which is perhaps all the comment I need make on Mythcon 43. I've really enjoyed Lo's previous books, and though this one is a decided change of pace in several ways, I loved it too.

Adaptation is set in the near-future United States, San Francisco to be precise; rising senior Reese and her debate partner David are prevented from flying back home by a series of bird strikes causing plane crashes across the continent. Driving a rental car home through Nevada, they encounter a bird strike themselves, and after they wake up in a military hospital and finally get home to San Francisco, it quickly becomes clear that everything has, somehow, changed.

It was highly difficult to put this book down - Malinda talked at Mythcon about how she was inspired by her love of The X-Files, among other things, and how it was easier to write contemporary than pseudo-medieval fantasy dialogue, and it turns out that she's pretty handy with witty verbiage. I also really liked Reese; I sympathized a lot with her dilemmas, both practical and romantic, and the other characters are also very nicely drawn. Although Reese isn't herself a person of color, plenty of her friends including David are, and one of the things I really enjoyed, now that I live here, is how Lo brought out the reality of San Francisco and its diversity without being didactic about it. Without being spoilery about it, there are also several queer characters, and I particularly appreciated the way several characters' bisexuality is handled - realistically, and with acceptance from other characters rather than more stereotypical, skeptical attitudes. Lo's love for the city and its inhabitants shines through alongside the menace of the men in black.

Oh, are there a lot of men in black in this book. There's also a love triangle, conspiracy theories, and some plausibly creepy biological horror - the book opens with a quotation from Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and that's all I'll say on this point outside of a spoiler cut. Suffice it to say that this book is smart, sexy, and un-put-down-able, and I can't wait for the sequel (next year, sadly!).

Spoilers must adapt to survive )
starlady: (mokona crossing)
So [personal profile] unjapanologist came to visit for like a week. I put her on the train to Nebraska last Wednesday, and I am going to write down what we did before I forget it all.

# Asian Art Museum and Matcha - I got us in for free to these, and we had a good time. I really like the current special exhibition, Phantoms of Asia - it integrates with the collection and challenges museum norms in some interesting ways, and the Matcha evening party event we went to did more of the same, including an event where we could try on food costumes (a boysenberry and a can of curry powder, respectively), a video installation of Tina Takemoto's Björk-Geisha performance, and the Great Tortilla Conspiracy in partnership with the guy who did the asiansart.org website offering quesadilla printed with a design skewering the Phantoms exhibit "consuming the cosmic." I think critiques of the AAM are valid, on a number of levels, but what I liked above all about Phantoms was the way it showed that "Asian art" (whatever that is) isn't just dead stuff in museums, but living means of expression today.

# The USS Hornet - N likes boats, so we took a Zipcar and drove down to this one. I have been to a beer festival on the USS New Jersey, but the Hornet is a massively larger aircraft carrier. For me the coolest thing was seeing the Airstream quarantine module that the poor schmucks from Apollo 11 had to chill in for three weeks after splashdown…and the video of Nixon talking to them during his visit, oh god, Nixon. But it's well worth a tour, and our docents (including a guy who flew off a ship of the same class) were very good. And we had some fantastic views to San Francisco from the flight deck.

# Sausolito and Muir Woods on the hop-on, hop-off bus - I have previously driven to Muir Woods (which is a fun drive if you like driving and have a decent car, and is still fun even in a crappy Zipcar Mazda hatchback), but the advantage of the bus is that you can take the ferry back from Sausolito to San Francisco, which is only $5 with Clipper and is fantastic. Going over the Golden Gate in an open-top bus is also fantastic, and the bus lets you off at Vista Point for more pictures. I love Muir Woods - we had a little less than an hour there, because we had to take the second-to-last Sausolito bus, but it is a little slice of an older, more primeval age and it is beautiful and even 45 minutes is fantastic. Also in Sausolito we had fantastic fish tacos and we saw the cockatoo and its person! The cockatoo sits on your arms and eats seeds from your mouth and your hand and it was so adorable! And then we took the ferry back to San Francisco, which was also amazing, because we had fantastic views of the Golden Gate and the ferry goes right past Alcatraz.

# The Oakland A's - The age of Moneyball is no more. The Rays trounced the A's, 8-0, which made me glad I'd gone for the "value deck" pricing, which also included a $6 concession discount, so the beer was actually not totally unreasonable. But, even though the game was mostly painful, we had a good time up in the cheap seats with the other embittered cheapskates. (N: "Why are they booing the Oakland players?" Me: "Apparently we hate everyone.") It was just like being back in the old Vet back in the day when the Phillies sucked, minus the batteries being flung onto the field and the rioting, of course. And I do have to hand it to the field sections, which were full of some hard core fans - at one point they had the whole stadium doing the wave for about five minutes straight in the eighth inning.
starlady: A girl bent over a sailboat on a lake (build your own ship)
This happened a while ago, but what the hell--I met up with [personal profile] epershand and [personal profile] eruthros last month, and we had fun just wandering around. I later cribbed half of our itinerary for showing my friend M around, so double bonus.

Marnee Thai--om nom nom delicious. We got there a bit too late to get the homemade dumplings, but the next time I went there it was much less crowded because their credit card machine was down, and the dumplings were delicious. Ep says this is one of the best Thai restaurants in the city, and I believe it.

# The Conservatory of Flowers! I have a decided weak spot for these turn of the 20thC sorts of places, and we paid the recently raised admission fee and had fun wandering around inside cooing over the carnivorous plants. As a bonus, they currently have an exhibit on Playland and the old San Francisco West End, and since we are all interested in local history (and I know very little of it) we had a lot of fun squeezing every last drop of information out of the displays. Also then we went and had Its Its, which I will grant are pretty darn tasty.

# Ep and I went to The Rice Broker, which has replaced the lamentably departed Spork, the other night. Apparently Spork had to close because the building is slated for demolition (!), so The Rice Broker is ultra-temporary. Our verdict: good food, though not necessarily for the price; if it were staying around long-term they'd need to step up their game.

# We also went to a nice coffee shop right by the Asian Art Museum, which I can't remember the name of but which will come very much in handy this summer.

starlady: (the wizard's oath)
Two of my favorite authors today posted tributes to Steve Jobs that, I think, get to the heart of what made Apple products in general and Steve Jobs' visionary insight into the actual nature of personal technology so singular. Along the way, both Duane and West articulate again, almost in passing, what makes me love their work so fiercely.

Diane Duane, A farewell: Steve Jobs

Michelle West, Steve Jobs


I won't pretend that I don't feel an additional layer of sadness over Jobs' death in light of the fact that he died of cancer, a year younger even than my mother was. Jobs was a visionary, but that's not why he deserved more time here; everyone does. But it's also undeniable that the outpouring of emotion at his death--which I don't discount or find mawkish or put-on--is the perfect testament to the personal connection with technology that Jobs envisioned and then created. And that is, unquestionably, the most fitting tribute possible. 
starlady: (the wizard's oath)
Steve Jobs, a true visionary and another too-young victim of cancer. I like to imagine that he's in the place where the Apple logo doesn't have a bite out of it now.
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
Cymbeline, by William Shakespeare. Dir. Kenneth Kelleher.

I trekked out, along with a motley crew of awesome people, to the Presidio to see S.F. Shakespeare do Cymbeline, which is one of the romances (i.e. later, Jacobean, tragicomedy) and that almost no one in our group had either seen or read before. Seeing or reading it before would not, I think, have done anything to alleviate the utter ludicrousness that is the plot or make it more sensible. I literally said "This is ridiculous!" out loud when they handed out the programs and I read the plot summary, a sentiment that was aptly echoed by Cymbeline in the play in Act V when he says, dumbfounded, "Does the world go round!?" If I start saying this, rest assured, what I mean is, "What the fucking fuck!?"

I'll let you read the Wiki article to attempt to grasp the plot; what I want to talk about is the production, which was nothing short of amazing. The costuming and set design went the route of a sort of Dickensian steampunk look and feel, which worked very well in context (I support modern AUs in Shakespeare costuming in perpetuity), and the actors and the director all performed things with a sort of giddy OTT attitude--though not, let me hasten to clarify, emotionally one-note--that really made the ridiculous plot shenanigans emotionally credible. They also made the very smart decision to have just about every actor but Emily Jordan, who did an amazing job with Innogen, double parts, which certainly helped sell things like Innogen mistaking her stepbrother's beheaded body for her husband's, since they were both played (brilliantly) by Craig Marker. The music was also amazing, a mixture of very well done settings of the music in the text (music is such an important part of the romances, seriously, they're half-masque in some ways) and playing of samples of contemporary things--I recognized at least one Magnetic Fields song, which is fitting since I tend to blame Stephen Merritt's score for the "Coraline" musical for the toy piano that featured (in a suitable way, yes) in the set design in this production.

It being the Presidio, I'd be remiss in not mentioning the weather, or more precisely the fog, because fog in the Presidio does not mess around, and is doubtless the reason why the grass we were sitting on was the cushiest grass I've seen in the state of California. It was a bit chilly by the end, but by no means intolerable since I'd dressed appropriately. There are lots more performances this month; if you can check it out, you totally should!
Originally posted at Dreamwidth Studios; you can comment there using OpenID or a DW account.
starlady: An octopus solving a Rubik's cube.  (original of the species)
Cymbeline, by William Shakespeare. Dir. Kenneth Kelleher.

I trekked out, along with a motley crew of awesome people, to the Presidio to see S.F. Shakespeare do Cymbeline, which is one of the romances (i.e. later, Jacobean, tragicomedy) and that almost no one in our group had either seen or read before. Seeing or reading it before would not, I think, have done anything to alleviate the utter ludicrousness that is the plot or make it more sensible. I literally said "This is ridiculous!" out loud when they handed out the programs and I read the plot summary, a sentiment that was aptly echoed by Cymbeline in the play in Act V when he says, dumbfounded, "Does the world go round!?" If I start saying this, rest assured, what I mean is, "What the fucking fuck!?"

I'll let you read the Wiki article to attempt to grasp the plot; what I want to talk about is the production, which was nothing short of amazing. The costuming and set design went the route of a sort of Dickensian steampunk look and feel, which worked very well in context (I support modern AUs in Shakespeare costuming in perpetuity), and the actors and the director all performed things with a sort of giddy OTT attitude--though not, let me hasten to clarify, emotionally one-note--that really made the ridiculous plot shenanigans emotionally credible. They also made the very smart decision to have just about every actor but Emily Jordan, who did an amazing job with Innogen, double parts, which certainly helped sell things like Innogen mistaking her stepbrother's beheaded body for her husband's, since they were both played (brilliantly) by Craig Marker. The music was also amazing, a mixture of very well done settings of the music in the text (music is such an important part of the romances, seriously, they're half-masque in some ways) and playing of samples of contemporary things--I recognized at least one Magnetic Fields song, which is fitting since I tend to blame Stephen Merritt's score for the "Coraline" musical for the toy piano that featured (in a suitable way, yes) in the set design in this production.

It being the Presidio, I'd be remiss in not mentioning the weather, or more precisely the fog, because fog in the Presidio does not mess around, and is doubtless the reason why the grass we were sitting on was the cushiest grass I've seen in the state of California. It was a bit chilly by the end, but by no means intolerable since I'd dressed appropriately. There are lots more performances this month; if you can check it out, you totally should!
starlady: (run)
Happy Constitution Day, Norway! At my alma mater there will be cake for everyone today.

So on Sunday morning I got up ridiculously early to bike to the BART and get my butt on a train for downtown San Francisco to run the 100th annual Bay to Breakers 12K. I finished in 1:24:57, well within my personal goal of 1:30:00. The Bay to Breakers race is notorious for many things, among them the Hayes Street Hill between mile 2 and 3, which rises at about a 12% grade. Looking at my split times, I actually sped up on the second half of the course, after the hill; at the top of the hill my split time was 11:45, but at the finish line it was 11:24. Compared with the 8K I ran last year (split time 7:19), there's a lot of room for improvement, but I was pleased that it wasn't, on the whole, anywhere near as much of a challenge as I thought it would be. If anything, I took it too easy. (Fun fact: when I was at the crest of the hill, the winners were already at the finish line.)

The other thing about Bay to Breakers aside from the hill and the rather lovely course through the city's microclimates to the finish line on the Great Highway, with the Pacific slamming onto the shore in front of you, is that it's basically a giant excuse to have a citywide party. Those of us who actually ran it got a bit less of this, and this year the city also enforced the alcohol regulations and barred floats from the race course, which I understand put a bit of damper on things. Still, I have to tell you, it was one of the most awesome things I've done: the weather was perfect, if just slightly on the chilly side, the sun shone bright (except for the 2/3 of a mile that it rained in Golden Gate Park), and the people flinging tortillas at the start, the Elvi (plural of Elvis), the sharks (they run the course backward), the people running naked, the tons of people running in costume, the people cheering us on from their houses as they blared music and drank at 8am--it was all really, really fun.

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