April 9th, 2013

wood cat

terrible comfort foods

I'm sitting on a train at Penn Station (which is BOILING hot because for some reason they have the heat running on a 70 F day), waiting to head back to Albany after a court appearance today, and I have just had one of my guilty pleasures, a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza at the station food court. These are, as the subject line says, both objectively terrible and a comfort food for me. I'm curious how many other people have comfort foods of this sort (Chad, I know, has a weakness for awful Americanized Chinese buffet food.

(I did take advantage of being in NYC by having good food last night: I had buttered lobster at Marseille, which was very good except it turns out I don't like leeks. Anyway, nice place, especially for conversation (though it was a Monday night, of course).)

comment count unavailable comment(s) | add comment (how-to) | link
out of cheese error

Arisia not-panel report: Unreliable Narrators

[Written on the train today after the wifi went out.]

I have literally been carrying paper notes from Arisia around in my shoulder bag since January, hoping to find time to write up some of the other panels. I particularly wanted to do the one about unreliable narrators, which was late at night and [personal profile] sovay and I got a little tipsy on fatigue and trading references, to the point where we kind of--well, not kind of, did--took over the entire panel. Fortunately I know the other panelists ([personal profile] ckd and Sarah Smith) were well able to interject if they wanted to.

Unfortunately my notes are more cryptic than useful at this point, months later. But what the panel boiled down to is that [personal profile] sovay, especially, and I can apparently come up with more kinds of unreliable narrators than I would have thought. I'm not going to go back and quote the panel description because it was pretty weird and unhelpful, but we definitely did not agree with its suggestion that an unreliable narrator correlates in any useful way with genre.

Let's see, how to organize what I do remember or can reconstruct? We talked about the usual unreliable first-person narrators, those who are doing it deliberately (famous Agatha Christie book, Liar which I have not read, Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief [with a digression into why everyone should read those books, or at least the first three]), The Fortunate Fall which opens with the narrator promising us that we will close the book knowing less about her than we did before--I don't know if we know less, but we certainly do not know how she feels about the events of the end of the book) and those who are unreliable because they are, e.g., writing for their own eyes and so leave things out/phrase things in a realistic but potentially misleading way (Agyar, other epistolary works). There's also the narrators who are unreliable just because people are unreliable--I think I told the anecdote of being in court, hearing my opponent say something and thinking, "Ah-ha! A concession!" and writing it down, and then getting the audio recording and discovering it was no such thing. We mentioned The Innkeeper's Song, which is multiple-first, as an example doing of this well.

Then we went further afield: is there such a thing as unreliable third? Well, there's the tight-filtered third that e.g., Lois McMaster Bujold does, that is very strongly colored by the POV character's personality and limitations, so they might draw incorrect conclusions etc., but it's usually reasonably clear to the reader the way they're limited. There's the third-person POV character who is carefully not thinking about things (one of Garrett's Lord Darcy stories). (I was talking with [personal profile] coffeeandink recently about a story, fanfic so it's not known to most of you, where I guess the POV character was doing this so much that I literally could not tell how the POV character, or half the other characters, felt about anything emotional, which was kind of frustrating.) I think the third-person question is where an example [personal profile] sovay gave comes in, a book called Camomile Lawn which involves a present-day thread and a retrospective thread that interplay revealingly.

We went off into fake histories, where the historical and mythical interpretations of events are shown to be different from "what really happened," or at least how the characters they were happening to understood them--Jane Yolen's Sister Light, Sister Dark and White Jenna. Then there's the weirdness that is Mary Gentle's Ash, which [personal profile] sovay described because I didn't like it and have forgotten most of it, but which seems to have had the act of translating and publishing history change the present day (?). And there's the cheerful disregard for accuracy that is Paarfi in Steven Brust's Dumas pastiches, where Paarfi is writing historical romances with, for instance, conversations between only two characters, neither of whom would ever talk to him (probably he has ones between characters who die before they could have either, too). (I'm sure we could do an entire panel on narrators in Brust.)

I have a note that says "trauma," which I think is meant to refer to another reason why a narrator of whatever type might be unreliable. I also have a note that says "Twin Peaks," and I have no idea what we meant.

Anyway. That's what I remember or can reconstruct at this point, at least while my brains are melting out of my ears in this sauna-like Amtrak train. What are your favorite unreliable narrators, what are some interesting variations or possibilities that you've seen, what are some examples you don't think worked? (Mark spoilers, please.) comment count unavailable comment(s) | add comment (how-to) | link

Err . . . hi, slightly crazed

TV roundup

This is what happens when I am ridiculously busy: I have all these things I want to talk to you all about, and then when I have a little time, it all comes flooding out (I even wrote a booklog post!). Another post written on Amtrak: TV catchup.

I should say that I watch TV mostly with the Pip in the same room, so anything violent or scary is out--not that those are really to my taste anyway. (At this point in SteelyKid's life I'd ditched The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, but though the Pip is acquiring language right now, comprehension at that level is a long way away, I was too cautious before.) Mostly what I want is something with people I like that doesn't make me angry.

Leverage: I would have watched the hell out of the season six they were setting up, so I'm bummed it was canceled. Collapse )

Face Off: the SyFy reality show that's a makeup artist competition. I liked this season better than last because (1) no audience vote determining the winner and (2) it shifted the "win your way back on" to a web series for the next season. Also it made more sense logistically that they didn't bring back all the contestants for the finale, just enough for two helpers each.

Elementary: because the first episode opens with a murder, these episodes kept scrolling off the DVR until I picked it up with the episode with the safe, which turned out to be very low-violence indeed (and, with a couple notable exceptions, much more like the rest of the show). I've since seen all the subsequent episodes except "M.", plus the ones that CBS has re-run. This was probably a good place for me to pick it up, where Holmes and Watson are already more firmly into their friendship/partnership. I enjoy the two of them a lot, and I find it ridiculously refreshing to watch something that is actively opposed to the "Holmes as lone super-special genius" idea and (gasp!) cares about its female lead's agency and choices and life. I saved this past week's episode as a treat for myself because Collapse ) The mysteries are, unsurprisingly, not very good, but I don't watch TV for mysteries so I don't really care; I like hanging out with the characters and watching Watson learn to be a detective and their friendship.

Edit: I meant to link to these two gen Joan-Sherlock friendship fics that I enjoyed:

The Art of Negotiation (6767 words) by language_escapes
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Elementary (TV), Sherlock Holmes & Related Fandoms
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Joan Watson (Elementary)
Additional Tags: Boundaries, Negotiations, Male-Female Friendship
Summary: For them, negotiation is less about boundary setting and more about upping the ante.

waltz across naïve wood floors. (4101 words) by paperclipbitch
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Elementary (TV), Sherlock Holmes & Related Fandoms
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Sherlock Holmes & Joan Watson, Irene Adler/Sherlock Holmes
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Joan Watson (Elementary), Marcus Bell, Alfredo Llamosa, Clyde the Tortoise (Elementary)
Additional Tags: Slice of Life, Platonic Relationships, Platonic Female/Male Relationships, Platonic Soulmates, My First Work in This Fandom, written at least partially during accidental medication withdrawal
Summary: "You're wearing my underwear again, aren't you," Joan says.

(There are, right now, five fics that list Clyde the Tortoise as a character. Sometimes I love fandom.)

Farscape. A few weeks ago I decided I was going to watch this to keep myself awake when the Pip woke up at night (as opposed to sitting down with him and waking up in the rocking chair three hours later with a stiff neck). I've only seen the first episode and half of the second at this point, but more SF shows should use puppets and non-CG effects for their aliens. I've already been warned about the fourth season, and I seem to have lost some momentum, but I really like Browder and Black from their SG-1 run and do intend to go back to it. (I almost immediately abandoned my vague plan to keep up with the AV Club's watch when I realized it was doing two episodes a week after the first episode, but those of you who've already seen the show, they usually do a pretty good job, though I don't know if the comments on this are the quality of those on--of all things--the Korra coverage.) comment count unavailable comment(s) | add comment (how-to) | link