glvalentine: (nerd alert)
So, over the course of the last few months, NYC subway ads have been hit by the most adorable vandalism ever: The Moustache.



A partial record of his handiwork is here on Flickr. Men, women, kids; everyone gets the same cursive moustache.

Today I saw an ad with a gentleman's face, a messy Sharpie scribbled on his chin. Someone had made a little arrow in a different marker, footnoting it: "Not the Moustache."

Let the record show.
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So, I'll be doing the episodes of The Pillars of the Earth one at a time, since it's all my ancient laptop can handle before Netflix crashes my computer for the night.

The good news is, this kind of comedy gold is worth every frustrating moment. I'm going to hit five things in every episode worth watching it for. We'll slap it behind a spoiler cut, I guess, though the book's been out for twenty years. (Also, this is so unrelated to the book that it wouldn't matter in any case.)



Look at those hostage eyes. You know you're in for a treat!

Five Reasons to Watch Episode 1 of Pillars of the Earth. )
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The Pillars of the Earth premiered on Friday! It's based on the Ken Follett bestseller, which means that, as with any Ken Follett book, there will be a lot of research into the topic, many people will die in gruesome ways, and women will do ridiculous things at all times for no reason.

Still, that book was my jam when I was 11, so I thought I might as well check it out, since it's got every ham actor who ever hammed. It's an Ultimate Ham-off!

After seeing the first episode, I can tell you with authority: this is the kind of Ham-Off they will write about for a hundred years. And by "they" I mean "me," and by "a hundred years" I mean "for the next three weeks."

I mean, the cast aside (Rufus Sewell, Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, Sarah Parish, just for starters), the subject matter is perfect for half-starved scenery-chewing. I think most of what I'll be doing the next three weeks is developing a drinking game for this thing, because I suspect it will need it.

For those who doubt how much cheese you can get in less than two minutes of footage, I give you a vaguely-spoilery trailer!



Tomorrow, Episode 1 (A New Ham-off)!
glvalentine: (nerd alert)
Or, if you're me, any day!

Up at Fantasy Magazine this week, I posted Ten Cheesetastic Fantasy Flicks for Summer. For once, there's no competition for which one is best, because they're all the best!

Except maybe Xanadu is the best.



(Look at those hostage eyes. Yipes.)

The thing is, some of the movies on that list are cheesy but legitimately good. The Mummy, for example, is pretty unapologetic summer-blockbuster pulp, but I've seen it quite a few times and it always holds up, because Pulpy and Bad are not synonymous, even though a lot of things that aim for Pulpy end up at Bad. (That's another essay. I'm just noting it here.) Lost Boys is awesome, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is amazing. I'll even make a case for Earth Girls are Easy being a pretty solid flick! (Somewhere, Joseph Campbell is cringing.)

But there are some movies (...XANADU) that defy explanation.

Explaining it more doesn't help. )

(I've seen this movie like, six times. It never gets any less confusing.)

It was hard to choose a representative clip. The scene where the sisters wake up from the mural they're painted on (really happens) is pretty good. It gives the right tone for the film, both because the song makes you want to slap your ears off, and because it looks like the people actually in the scene were just as confused as anyone else, and the choreography was called out in a series of impromptu orders. ("Look at your hands! You have some hands! Have more hands! HAVE MORE HANDS.")

But I think this clip has to win.




Notes: this clip has been severely chopped, so you are missing out on the Gene Kelly-led rollerskating step routine and the part where Kira and her sisters sing this in half a dozen different styles, including Country Western, in which Michael Beck (SWAN, WHY) has to shake his shoulders like he's trying to wrench an arm out of the socket so he can be excused to the medic and just keep running and never look back.

Also, many of those sisters aren't the same sisters from the beginning of the movie. I'm just saying, that's the kind of show you're in for.

An awesome one.
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It's not just a sub-par Moby lyric, IT'S ACTUALLY TRUE.

(That is an actual thought I had at Launchpad, while we were learning about the most common substances in the universe. It's easy to dismiss Moby for everything after Play - not only easy, but probably a good idea - but the dude got some factual information about science at some point, that much is clear.)

Meanwhile, the Hubble, which is determined to show us how much we'll regret letting it just fall apart in space, is taking pretty pictures just to spite us.

Dear Earth,

You know what? I am just taking pictures out here because it's pretty and I feel like it. Don't think this is about you, Earth, you hear me? Because I am over you. I don't want you to worry about me, or feel guilty about just giving up on me forever, or anything like that, because I could not care less. You have fun with your James Webb Space Telescope, okay? Because I don't even know what I ever saw in you, and I've got better things than you coming up.

No love,
HST

P.S. SEE ATTACHED, SUCKERS.




(Not pictured: filename "neenerneener.jpg")

Also, yes, I have probably turned into one of Those Kids Who Won't Shut Up About How Fun Camp Was*, and you'll be regularly hearing about astronomy alongside movies and costuming. (Uh, fair warning for those who hate the night sky, I guess?)

As a kid I loved staring at whatever stars I could see (mmm, suburban light pollution), and I knew the mythology of the various constellations without having a sense of their real scope (or, let's face it, knowing where many of them were). Launchpad really filled in some of the handwavey places in my brain and rekindled that little-kid love affair with the sky. It's like I'm a kid again, only now I'm a really tall kid who knows terms like "visual binary" and pays taxes and has realized planes are not actually fun to be on like your parents always said they were!


* To be fair, I have not, nor will I ever, like an actual camp. I was out on Vedauwoo for less than three hours and I managed to wound myself and have an allergic reaction. The best thing about astronomy is that you can do it anywhere where you can look up, like penthouses with skylights. This will involve making new friends who have skylights in their penthouses, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.
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Okay, I have not even begun to settle back in from Launchpad, but I have a lot of updates and not enough time to write thoughtful intros for them (or for anything, ever), so we'll do this list-style and then I promise to bore you sometime later this week with the awesome details about making s'mores with people using only starlight for heat and marshmallows we harvested ourselves.

(This did not happen. Wyoming has no marshmallow trees, as they only thrive in the Pacific Northwest.)


1. First, fiction news! My short story "The Zeppelin Conductors’ Society Annual Gentlemen’s Ball" is up at Lightspeed Magazine!

2. I saw Inception opening weekend. I had to wait until I was in New York to do it - I dropped my suitcase at my apartment and went straight from there to the theatre - but I saw it. I will be writing more (a lot more) about this movie later, but for now, my SPOILERY review is up at Tor.com. SPOILERS. It says so in the cut-tag, but I'm direct-linking, so SPOILERS. SO MANY SPOILERS. THE TITANIC SINKS. DARTH IS LUKE'S DAD. SO MANY SPOILERS.

3. Launchpad was great. I wrote up an intro post here, with some handy links, and followed it up with Four Fun Things About the Universe, for values of "fun" that include the knowledge that if you get close to a black hole you'll be torn to shreds by gravity. Whee!


Tomorrow I should be caught up and ready to blog again. I hope. (I might just go home and sleep 12 hours. It's reverse altitude sickness!)
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Last day of Launchpad. My brain is still completely full, but I wanted to at least take the time to commemorate me performing some kind of physical activity besides giving someone a judgemental glare:



Believe it or not, I'm there, behind some of the foliage, a few hundred feet up Vedauwoo. (Thanks to Marjorie for the picture!)

Shortly after this photo was taken, we were attacked by ground squirrels, who tried desperately to look cute so we'd feed them. When we wouldn't, they started staking out our bags in case we made the critical strategic error of wandering away from them for a moment. (We didn't. They were bummed.)

Home tomorrow, where I will see Inception (FINALLY, THE LAST PERSON IN THE WORLD TO SEE IT), and start to catch up on the appalling amount of work that has piled up while I was furiously taking notes about spectrometry and dark matter.

Launchpad!

Jul. 14th, 2010 12:25 pm
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Apparently I am not very good at keeping people posted, because during my day at Readercon people were shocked to see me. (Uh, surprise!)

So in the spirit of keeping people updated, I am in Laramie, Wyoming this week for the Launchpad workshop! It is awesome. Last night, we went to "the little telescope" and saw the Moon like you usually see it in close-up NASA photos, and Saturn, as big as a thumbnail. (SATURN.)

I nerded out. People who had been to the big telescope laughed and laughed.

I'll be posting some updates to Tor.com hitting some of the most fun tidbits; for those who want to get into the nuts and bolts, Rachel Swirsky is taking exhaustive notes over at Ecstatic Days.

(SATURN.)
glvalentine: (nerd alert)
They're not just narratives; they're snapshots in time, moments of pure joy.

Just like this scene from The Lost Boys, which came out in July of 1987. This means that they probably filmed in 1986, that moment when the 80s were just realizing what they could really become. It was a time of innocence and wonder; a time when a man needed only purple tights, leather underwear, and some chains to be fully dressed; a time when Jami Gertz had a promising career. (Remember Quicksilver? Anyone?...anyone?)



Full disclosure: this actually takes me back to a time when I was in high school and taking Photography. This was back when you had to know how to wind the film on the spokes in the dark and then pour in the developer and shake the canister, and if you did one thing wrong you ended up with a bunch of underdeveloped splotches and chemical burns on your hands, and then you had to develop each of the prints by hand using a series of complicated machines that they use for background props in movies like Splice now.

With the hours and hours of after-school work necessary to take that photo of your parents' backyard and make it into something you could pass off as your "Garden" assignment (because your photos of the Botanical Gardens looked like a thin black plate with some cottage cheese on it), you had to have something to listen to as you stumbled around in the darkroom accidentally bleaching the crap out of your clothes. And for whatever reason, the soundtrack to The Lost Boys did the trick, and I must have spent about 800 man-hours that year with it on repeat on my Discman (FOR CDs - WOW, this was long ago).

That is to say: this clip is cheesy and dorky and hilarious, and I am fully implicated in it, because I have heard this song about a bajillion times in my youth, and I probably loved it every time.
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This weekend, I found myself on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, despite having been pretty apprehensive the last time. (I have no answers; I just suddenly appeared on the Wonder Wheel again, like it was a dream and I was escaping a chemistry test by flapping my arms really fast and that's just what happened.)

At night, Coney Island is packed and filthy and loud. (I would say it changed how I feel about Coney Island, but anyone who reads "And the Next, and the Next" in the Living Dead 2 is going to get an idea of how I feel about Coney Island.)

However, from the Wonder Wheel, there's something very melancholy about it:



The blackness isn't just my questionable camera; it really is a blaze of lights and then the huge, sapping darkness.

I walked across the empty beach and into the water, which was so dark that when the waves came in over my knees, it looked like tar. (I guess it still might, soon.)


The next day was the Natural History Museum, which has one of my favorite things in the world, the Wall of Completely Overwhelming BioDiversity:






And speaking of overwhelming, the IMAX Hubble movie talked casually about the 90-trillion-mile-wide Orion nebula, which is a birthplace for stars and galaxies:



It confirmed two things: the universe is an amazing place, and I am completely unprepared for Launchpad next week. (I did, however, pick up a lot of fun facts about marine life, so we'll see if that comes in handy at any point.)


There's no outward connection between the two days, but somehow I feel as if there was; as if I was reminded how lonely the world is, before I was reminded how teeming it is, before I was reminded how insignificant it is.

(And, oddly, how much the universe looks like Coney Island at night.)
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Okay. This is the big Eclipse post.

Ten Things About Eclipse has covered the bases.

Yesterday, my piece about The Decline and Fall of the Twilight Empire went up at Tor.com. There, I discussed the fact that as the fandom grows, the quality of actual filmmaking seems to sink like a stone.

(I will be honest, though, looking at my notes for New Moon, I'm not sure if endless music-video tracking shots are any worse than establishing shots with voiceover that then cut to a different location/scene entirely. Still, Eclipse had more to work with and did less with it, so it's probably still the worst movie of the three. I'll have to think about this.)

But first, as always, there was The Line.

Stampede-free, Burger-King-crown heavy. )

I still think the line winner was the girl in a Cullen crest shirt, looking very displeased with her friends: "I was here early IRONICALLY."



These kids speak for all of us.


And then it was time for the movie. Oh, was it ever. )
glvalentine: (omg no)
And the Eclipse postmortem begins! First up: Ten Things You Should Know About Eclipse, at Fantasy Magazine. This information might just save your life. (Or, two hours. Whichever.)

4. Howard Shore did the music.
You’ll know because whenever Bella and Edward make out, it sounds like every pervert in the Shire is creeping up on them.




His hand looks like a questing, half-hidden octopus, doesn't it? (Go ahead, unsee it. I dare you.)

I have an article forthcoming at Tor.com about the franchise in general and the trend in cinematic quality (hint: yeeeeesh), and last up will be the line report and blow-by-blow, because seriously, you guys? YIKES.
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Writing news! My story "Take Four" is in issue 9 of Kaleidotrope, alongside awesome people like Jason Heller and [livejournal.com profile] rachel_swirsky. You can check out the full TOC and purchase info here.

Quick excerpt:

Marissa's walkie-talkie hissed to life. "They know the gate's sealed. Watch for them."
The city was more than two miles across, but mobs always moved faster than you thought they would, and Greg barely had time to order the second-unit to film the rising dust before the townspeople burst out of the main square in the center of the city and barreled towards the gate.


Now, back to work. There's a lot to do today before I hit the line for Eclipse. (More about this later...if I make it that long.)
glvalentine: (omg no)
It's not that I mind getting the blood drawn. It's just that I look like this for three days afterward:

Just in case, let's cut for the extremely squeamish. )

Go to the doctor, look like a tiny boxer punched you right in the elbow; it's just one of life's unspoken trades.
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Last night, while reviewing what I've been working on in handy graphic form (which I will be doing again, because it's fun and prevents me from actually working), Inception was the last square.

Up at Tor.com today, I talk about what we know about Inception, and what Inception means.



Hint: it means that smart sci-fi movies are thin on the ground these days, and a movie pitched as cerebral sci-fi is an event in and of itself. (Seriously, the only thing emphasized in the trailer is dreams/ideas/the mind, and also how all these people look really great in nice clothes.) This strategy wouldn't have worked on a movie like, say, Moon, which was one of last year's thinkiest sci-fi movies, but too indie for its own good somehow, and it ended up coming out in about eight theatres and disappearing off the face of the earth, except for one DVD copy that I put in a time capsule to save for later.

Obviously there's no worries about that here, because Nolan made Batman cool again, which means he can basically do what he wants, forever. However, I am really hoping that this movie does not happen to suck. A lot of movies by good directors happen to suck, but when Channing Tatum gets tapped for the lead in a dimensional-sci-fi-action-romance that got suddenly greenlit because it's vaguely like Avatar, I bet a lot of good scripts are floating around that could really benefit from some box-office proof that smart sells.

I'm just saying, in a world where Ridley Scott is remaking his own Alien franchise, Spider-Man is getting a reboot THREE YEARS after the last one came out, and Avatar can win Golden Globes*, we could really use a win, here.

NO PRESSURE, INCEPTION.



* To be fair, many undeserving people have won Golden Globes.

WIPs

Jun. 24th, 2010 11:11 pm
glvalentine: (nerd alert)
Please note, I apparently don't have time to write about anything in depth, but plenty of time to make graphics about what I'm doing. Mmm, logic!




1. Reference image for a story I'm working on; originally was used for a story I just finished, but this image had another purpose. (It's a worker.)

2. If I am not writing a story about someone in a coat of some kind, then I am writing a story about a post-human singularity...in which robots wear coats.

3. This looks like a still from a fantastic movie. It is, in fact, a still from One Night with the King, which is an absolutely terrible movie you will be seeing more of shortly.

4. Ditto. This is from Bathory. Not pictured: Hans Matheson painting a portrait of a baby that's been stored inside the block of ice. (Oh, it happens.)

5. This is a picture of a juggler. Technically, he's from an Anthropologie catalog, and he's probably just a juggler because Hans Matheson found another stand-in. In my imagination, he's my imaginary circus boyfriend. His name is Ben. You will probably see him again.

6. The novel currently with my agent takes place in a river city. This picture was from [livejournal.com profile] vintagephoto, and the time between me seeing it and me right-click-saving cannot be measured with modern instruments.

7. My next novel is set in the 1920s. Researching dance crazes of the time is repellent, grueling work that I absolutely do not enjoy whatsoever, but it has to be done.

8. Because it's never the wrong time to watch Gleaming the Cube.

9. Inception. I have a piece about this movie lined up for Tor.com; in the meantime, just know that Joseph Gordon-Levitt must have signed an extra wire-work clause or something.
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(You have to use all the 'o's. Everyone in the movie does.)

Over the weekend, as ordered, I actually told a ticket taker "Jonah Hex, please!" and saw it.

We all knew it was going to be bad. But I honestly could not have predicted the scope of awfulness here. This was no ordinary awful. It was almost magically bad. I snickered uncontrollably pretty much nonstop.

I also made this face a lot.



(Michael Fassbender, you put this movie down RIGHT NOW.)

Check out the details at Tor.com, but be warned that the written word cannot do justice to how sublimely, accidentally hilarious this movie is.
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A few days ago I mentioned the cheeseball glory that is Dhoom 2.

Today, we do a Bollywood 180 for Jodhaa Akbar, a sweeping historical drama based on the life of Akbar the Great.

Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai star in both. I'm glad I saw Hrithik in this before I saw Dhoom 2, and that is all I will say about that. (Aishwarya…does her best.)



Nutshell: In 16th-Century India, Jalaluddin is the young emperor of Hindustan, handsoming his way across the country, trying to be wise and just and whatever. Jodhaa is a stunning Rajput princess who's married to Jalaluddin as a gesture of solidarity between Hindus and Muslims. Will these two incredibly genetically blessed people ever fall in love? Will Jalaluddin ever reconcile the two religions at war under his reign? Will this movie's eight bajillion subplots ever get resolved? We'll find out…in real time. (This movie is awesome, but it is also about eight years long.)

Let's hit it. )

Splice

Jun. 15th, 2010 05:55 pm
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People often use the phrase, "Ambitious, but flawed" to describe a movie. I use it a lot; it helps hint at a film that was trying to be more complex than The Blind Side or something, and depending how you put the emphasis, it can mean anything from "there were a few things that didn't sit quite right" to "what a magnificent collection of moving images that had no discernible narrative cohesion". (Oh, Sunshine.)



Splice tries very hard to be a Frankenstein for our times; a CGI creepfest; a meta-horror; a complex dissection of parenting norms; a parable of nature vs. nurture. At the same time. (You can see already where we're going to have problems.)

As for how well it did at any or all of those things…how big can I make "Flawed"?

And 3D, if you have it. )
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So, this weekend I saw Splice. I will be talking about it tomorrow, but it's just not the sort of blog entry I want to face on a Monday. Especially since I also saw Dhoom 2 this weekend.

Dhoom 2 stars Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, who had been paired to great effect in Jodhaa Akbar (despite Aishwarya's lack of actual acting ability). I thought, "Well, they did well in the other one. Let's check out Dhoom 2!"

Do you guys remember the first Mission: Impossible movie, when everyone had latex masks on all the time and they spent four hours just double-crossing each other and jumping around pulling off latex masks to reveal other latex masks and shooting bullets in an arc and running around and pulling off other people's latex masks, and you spent the whole movie thinking, "What is wrong with these awful people in this movie I don't understand?"

The maker of Dhoom 2 looked at that movie and said, "This is missing two things: dance numbers, and a man dressed up to look like the Queen. I can fix this."



And so, Dhoom 2 was born. )

Best part: I was thinking about writing this up, and I thought, "Well, it won't be the same without a compilation of Hrithik Roshan walking in slow-motion towards the camera with his shirt unbuttoned and his scarf fluttering in the wind, but where the hell am I going to find that?"

Turns out someone made it, and put it to a love song. Thank you, internet. Thank you for everything.

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Genevieve Valentine

September 2010

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