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October 31st, 2017


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01:16 pm - Masses of Media
In these last few weeks I’ve seen two concerts, one movie, numerous new TV show, and read a couple of novels. Here are my thoughts:

On Saturday, [personal profile] amberite, their awesome friend (newly moved to Portland) Winnie and I went to see folk-punk performer EMA at Mississippi Studios. What I hadn’t thought much about was that it was a dual show, of EMA and a group I’d never heard about called The Blow. Amusing, we also saw my friend Brad there, and when I said that I had no idea he also liked EMA, he responded that he was here to see The Blow, and that he knew nothing about EMA.

The Blow went on first, and it was nothing like I’d experienced before. The best simple description was performance art reminiscent of Laurie Anderson-like performance art + lesbian folk-punk, but that only captures a small part of the wonders I saw. Their music is quite good, but the performance aspect was phenomenal. It started with what was billed as a slide show + monologue, except that the “slides” were simply rectangles of light, where the leader performer described what was on the slide, which was impressively powerful and amazing, and reminded both [personal profile] amberite of various sorts of ritual magic.

I enjoyed EMA’s show, but she was an oddly restrained performer, and so listening to her excellent set was more like listening to one of her albums than I’m used to with live music. She performed pieces from all three of her albums and did a wonderful job, but it was honestly a bit of a letdown after the unexpected wonder of The Blow.

Tonight, [personal profile] teaotter and I went back to Mississippi Studios to see folk-pop artist Mary Lambert. This was also a wonderful show, it a very different one. Lambert is a wonderful in-person performer, and unlike the previous concert, this was an excellent standard concert that I greatly enjoyed.

[personal profile] teaotter and I also saw Professor Marsden and the Wonder Women on Sunday. It was a biopic about the creator of Wonder Woman and his poly triad. It was good, but at 108 minutes it felt quite sparse and needed more story. However, seeing poly representation in film remains a good and powerful thing for me.

TV has been a mixed, if mostly good bag. The one utter failure I’ve been watching is Inhumans, which can best be described as astonishingly bad – I loved the Inhumans in comics, much of the acting is fairly good, but overall the show is dreadful. The 3rd and 4th episodes got a bit better, but then it got even worse in a why should I care about any of these characters fashion.

Meanwhile, we’re also watching The Gifted, which is very good, and is confronting prejudice and oppression in our society quite well. I highly recommend it. At this point, only [personal profile] amberite & I are watching Star Trek: Discovery, because the fact that the captain is essentially evil makes it feel insufficiently like Star Trek for [personal profile] teaotter. However, I’m definitely enjoying it. From my PoV, it’s very nice to see actual Star Trek, rather than the three terrible movies that put a gloss of Star Trek over some generic space action films.

We’re also watching the latest seasons of Riverdale, Lucifer, and The Good Place. Riverdale still seems good, but uneven and les tight than its excellent first season, and so after two episodes we’re letting it accumulate on the DVR, and will pick it back up later. Meanwhile, Lucifer continues to be very good, and The Good Place is wonderful. I actively avoid all comedy made in the last 25 years, and most earlier comedy, and the bits I’ve seen of other modern comedies have not impressed me, but The Good Place is simply incredible. Most of the most recent episode consisted of two characters talking, and it was simply brilliant.

Meanwhile, I’m the only one of the three of us watching Supergirl, which can best be described as a guilty pleasure. It’s not merely openly and unabashedly lefty, but pretty much shoves this in viewers faces, which is a welcome relief to me in the US of 2017. OTOH, it’s also fairly hackneyed and the acting is overall fairly mediocre, but it’s definitely fun.

As for books, I read Steven Brust’s latest (15th) Dragaeran Empire novel (Vallista), and like the last one, I actually enjoyed it (which has only been true of about half of his last few novels in this series). This was a very tight novel, with the protagonist spending most of his time trapped in something much like a haunted house, and while not excellent was fun and reasonably good. It also had some bits that suggest that there’s going to be a big finish and that we make actually see the last 3 novels in what will eventually be an 18 book series.

In contrast, Ann Leckie’s Provenance was simply wonderful. Set in the same universe as her Ancillary series, it has an interesting number of surprises and twists, and is very well done. I remain amused that until someone I know mentioned it, I entirely did not notice that it exclusively used gender neutral pronouns. Both because I taught myself to write in a gender neutral fashion 35 years ago (and then had to unlearn it for most RPG writing), and my social circle, it seems entirely outside my notice.

I also very much enjoyed K. B. Spangler’s short novel Stoneskin, which was well done and had the sort of mixture of space travelling SF and magic that I’m very much inclined to love.



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