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1. So, for the first time in my life, I was faced in the 2015 Hugos with choices that follow the voting paradox. I never, in my heart, really believed in nontransitive voting preferences before; of course one likes peach pie better than blueberry, and blueberry better than apple (the example Martin Gardner gave where I first learned about this paradox), because fresh peach pie is obviously The Best Pie and better than any other pie. It would be silly to like apple pie better than peach pie. (In my opinion. D ranks them differently. But he was very sweet and made me a peach pie for my birthday. <3 And I'm not saying apple pie isn't wonderful too :) )

But: I liked No Award better than Three-Body Problem for the Hugo, 3BP better than Ancillary Sword for the Hugo, AS better than The Goblin Emperor for the Hugo... and TGE better than No Award. (Note that this does not correlate with how well I liked the book or how well I thought it was written; TGE wins easily on both those counts.) So, I dunno. I ended up voting them all under No Award, because I am a crotchety grumpy sort of person who feels The Hugos Are Not What They Used To Be And Darn Kids Get Offa My Lawn, but it was a very close thing. Probably if I'd had another day I would have switched them all above No Award, and if I'd had two more days back under.

2. I had Lots of Opinions about Fringe S5, and then [personal profile] sprocket noted that it was Walter fanfic, and then I got All My Opinions out about it here. (It's honestly a little uneven, because I was writing it while watching the episodes, only later going back to try to make it into a coherent whole. And... that's as good a metaphor for Fringe as any other, I think.)
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Okay, um, I am up to 5x08 ("The Human Kind", mostly just started) and my principal feeling is one of bafflement. Spoilers for S4 and S5 )
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Okay... so... I have finished Season 4 and I have MANY FEELINGS about it.

My principal thought is that it reminds me of writing a fic -- only it reminds me of that part of writing the fic where I'm really excited about all these ideas I'm having, because they're really awesome ideas, and they're starting to gel but they are still a little all over the place, and the characters! Right then, the characters are basically vehicles to tell the story-- they get moved hither and yon as the plot demands. Usually my beta dings all of these things (I... think maybe everyone who's ever betaed for me has dinged me on this to a certain extent, though they may have phrased it differently? but in particular hiiii [personal profile] sprocket, you're awesome), and they get at least slightly better.

So, yeah. I felt like a lot of Season 4 didn't get betaed. And yet it had so many great things going on! In which I say lots of random things about Season 4, including Denethor, the failed attempt at Padawan, the alternate Extended Seasons in my brain, and Nimoy. )
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So [personal profile] ase has somehow convinced me to watch Fringe, not least by referencing the ep list here, which, yeah, the "high points" version of Season 1 of any canon is usually the right tack to take with me. (It does mean that occasionally I get stymied by a character point that might have been a little more obvious if I'd stuck around for all the episodes, but if I'd stuck around I would never have gotten this far, so.)

Anyway. It took me a really, really long time to watch episode 1 of Season 3 (almost a month, I think?), and the next episodes took a while as well, but lately I've been going through a lot. (And yes, getting a lot of chores around the house done :) )

So capslocking flailing last night to ase wasn't good enough and I must share. I'm still reeling from watching the last half of 3.7 (thanks for the kiddie torture, show!) and 3.8 last night. Major spoilers through 3.8. This is one show where it pays not to be spoiled. Also, it is not likely to make any sense if you haven't watched this far... )
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[personal profile] luzula asked about first fictional crushes, "assuming you've had any." (I'm going to assume "fictional" refers not only to books.)

Ahahahaha. In fact I make a new fictional crush every year or so. My first fictional crushes, I think, were Sherlock Holmes, Spock, and MacGyver. (As a kid, I tended to crush less on literary characters, because I'd more identify with them -- Will Stanton, Ged, Peter Pevensie -- than actually crush on them.) Uh, yeah: when I was a kid, I was guaranteed to fall for any character with analytical problem-solving skills, ideally with an unemotional exterior hiding a deep capacity for friendship, if not love. Nowadays I tend to go for either quiet unselfconscious competency and integrity -- Simon Illyan, Costis -- or lots of shades of moral grey (Cary Agos, Nicholas Rush, Garak). Not sure what this dichotomy says about me. (I do note that the moral-grey characters tend to be from TV and movies, whereas in books I'm almost always drawn to the competent ones. It's hard to do moral-grey in books in a way that makes me fall for the character. I do crush on TV/movie competent characters as well, though!)

MacGyver was clearly the biggest crush. (And Murdoc, the assassin who is obsessed with MacGyver. Yup, I had a crush on him too, although not the same kind -- I mean, MacGyver was the kind of guy you'd want to date, and Murdoc was, well, not.) I can't believe I am admitting this in public... somewhere between elementary and high school, I wrote -- years before I had ever heard the term "fanfiction" -- an angsty MacGyver epic that was many thousands of words long (twenty thousand? forty thousand? It was Many Double-Spaced Pages, that's all I'm saying). Yes, complete with self-insert who all the other characters thought was incredibly smart and attractive etc., although even at the time I drew the line at constructing the self-insert as a major love interest. However, there, uh, may have been a noble angsty self-sacrificing revealing death scene reminiscent of Eponine's. (I had read and watched Les Mis at that point, and it showed.) There was even a time-travel super-conspiracy involved, in which Murdoc turned out to be Tragically Misunderstood (or even better, Tragically Intentionally Misunderstood For the Good of Mankind). This was epic, I tell you.

(There may even be a copy of this great work extant somewhere in my parents' house, but no one except my sister -- who was the intended audience, at the time -- is ever going to be allowed to see it.)
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So [personal profile] sophia_gratia told me I HAD to watch this, and I have learned that when my friends are quite this insistent, they are right.

Caveat that I've only watched the first half of the first season, but I have not felt this strongly about a TV show since Veronica Mars. It is in some ways a totally different show, of course. VM is dark and noir (to the point that I would have stopped watching after the pilot if not for [profile] liuzhia (who told me I HAD to watch it, and who was right) telling me it wasn't that dark from then on) and the main characters are high-school students, and it's got a precision micrometer plotting arc I've never seen equalled anywhere else. TGW's main character is a middle-aged woman with high-school-age kids (which I LOVE) and has a much more detached, posh, political vibe (given that it's a drama of politics disguised as lawyer drama, this makes sense). They are the same, though, in their complicated and nuanced portrayal of people (both women and men, lots of interesting women) who are trying to do the right thing in an ethically gray and morally complicated world, in the rich chracterization, in the incredible (INCREDIBLE) character interactions. And in both main characters being women who can totally beat up (metaphorically, though, heck, I'd put odds on them in a dark alley as well) people giving them crap. TGW does not have the precision plotting of VM, but on the other hand, have I mentioned that TGW's main character is a middle-aged woman trying to navigate going back into the workforce, a woman who is juggling her husband's drama and her kids and her job and... AGH. And it's all about the character interactions playing in with politics and power and hierarchy and strategy and... yeah. It's, in a lot of ways, VM for grownups. Go watch it.

Now for some episode recaps, with spoilers: eps 6-14 )
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So people gave me fic recs and they were awesome and this has really slowed down my SGA snarfing, but then D poked me to clean up the papers that have been accumulating for weeks while I've been doing, um, other stuff, and SGA is perfect to have in the background while doing that.

These eps can be summed up as follows: I love Zelenka. I hate Beckett. )
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I'm watching the Stargates in reverse order! Soooomeday I shall get to SG-1.

General reaction: yeah, I see why one might be put off by the SGU propensity to Leave People Places. Definitely a far different vibe, here. I think every single episode, at least almost, has had some version of "We don't leave people behind!"

Cut for individual-episode, possibly somewhat-cryptic, reactions for season 1, Eps 3-10: )

Are there ever shows were women scientists get to do the rapid-fire science exchanges like McKay and Other Scientist Dude get to do in this episode? Like Amanda Perry in SGU never did that with Rush, did she? Not the way McKay and Eli did it pretty much immediately after they met. I guess Ginn did, a little (love Ginn), but we didn't see it on-screen all that much -- Eli would describe them working together like that, but what we actually saw IIRC was Ginn gushing about Eli's work, not a partnership. (Another point for that Perry-Ginn fic that needs to be written...) I want to see women scientists doing that fighting-disagreeing-convincing-each-other-working-together-finishing-each-other's-sentences collaboration Thing that I love so much about technical fields, that Eli and McKay got to do, that McKay and the scientist in this episode got to do, and it occurs to me I'm not sure I've ever seen it with a woman scientist. (I think Scully and Mulder might have been the closest I can think of, and Mulder, of course, wasn't a scientist.) Does Samantha Carter get to?
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So. The writing, especially first season but also some second season just frustrated me so much... they took what could have been some really interesting situations and characters and just wasted them and/or made them boring (Gloria? Could have been really interesting, and then they just dropped that storyline completely), and then jump back in and demand you care for a character or relationship that they've put no work into, just because they assert that it's been going on this whole time. This is not even to mention the camera work (shaking the camera is not gritty, it just makes me carsick, and same with ten montages in a row), the fail-y bits (um, what you are doing with the communication stones do you not realize that is ethically incredibly skeevy and might in fact be rape? ew ew ew, also whaaaat torture = awesome?) and so on. (I have been told that apparently there was a LOT of cut material; this may have contributed to my perceived problems.)

But occasionally, especially in Season 2 when they seem to have found their feet a little, there are some very good and creepy scenes ("Visitation," while having the most cheesy science ever, was actually quite interesting, as was the whole time-travel arc), good character writing (the women were totally wasted first season but this got a lot better second season), good character-interaction writing -- Rush, for example, is consistently The Most Terrible At Saying Comforting Things Ever starting from the pilot and continuing through the end of SGU's run, it's hilarious -- and the actors are pretty much uniformly awesome, and WAIT WAIT HOLY HECK DID RUSH JUST ASK HIS CLASS ABOUT SHOR'S ALGORITHM?? RUSH WAS A QUANTUM INFORMATION COMPUTER SCIENTIST?? AT BERKELEY??

...Now my backstory headcanon totally has Rush having ADVENTURES at Berkeley with Scott Aaronson as a grad student and possibly psychopathic killer robots.

And then, of course, not twenty minutes later Rush is talking some sort of incredibly nonsensical "proto-encryption" gobbeldy-gook, which rather dampened my enthusiasm, but still. STILL.

(Shor's algorithm is, as they almost-correctly say in the episode "Human," an algorithm to factor a large number N that can run on a quantum computer in polynomial time (in log N). This is important because public-key cryptography schemes such as the widely-used RSA depend on the assumption that factoring large numbers is computationally infeasible (which as far as we know today is the case for classical computers; I am not entirely sure the episode understood that this is not proven. However, kudos to them for bothering to read wikipedia, though I was amused to find that they essentially plagiarized the entry, except for the part they didn't quite get).

This algorithm is important not least because it basically inaugurated the quantum information / quantum computing discipline, in that it gave a practical-ish (and, perhaps more to the point, fundable) reason for quantum computers to exist; Shor's paper is quite possibly cited in half the papers written in quantum information/computing. Also, disclaimer: I am not a computer science person.)

(HEY they just mentioned fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation BE STILL MY HEART.)

...also, one ep into SG-1, I have to say, I prefer SGU (BSG-lite-with-scientists > 80's-camp) but hi MacGyver!

[ETA 7-27-12: Rereading this, it sounds way harsher on SGU than I intended. I really liked it (I would have liked it for Carlyle alone), I thought the second half of Season 2 was quite good, and by the time it ended I was really sorry to see it go; I think it could have been a really good series. And it was put together in such a way as to have about ten thousand hooks for fic, ouch!]
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This month I've been mostly watching TV instead of reading books. I know, I know. I do feel quite ashamed of myself. (Though I am finally getting back to reading books again!) Usually I'm doing one show at most over any given six-month period, and somehow in the last couple of months I've watched five different shows. Eek. Anyway, because I'm that way, I thought I might write down some of my thoughts at greater length. In rough order of most liked by me to least:

Downton Abbey, Once Upon a Time, Smash, Revenge, and ST:TNG )
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Cheer up, Hamlet; chin up, Hamlet; buck up, you melancholy Dane!
So your uncle is a cad who murdered Dad and married Mum.
That's really no excuse to be as glum as you've become!
So wise up, Hamlet; rise up, Hamlet; perk up and sing a new refrain.
Your incessant monologizing fills the castle with ennui.
Your antic disposition is embarrassing to see.
And by the way, you sulky brat, the answer is to be!
You're driving poor Ophelia insane.
So shut up, you rogue and peasant; grow up, it's most unpleasant;
cheer up, you melancholy Dane!

Richard: Geoffrey, I am worried about the future of the entire festival. Now: what is the point of putting on a play if no one comes to see it?
Geoffrey: Which would you prefer: an empty house with a great play, or a full house with a piece of garbage?

Darren Nichols: I must say, I've fallen in love with the musical genre. It's the art-form of the common man. If you want to communicate something with the proletariat, cover it in sequins and make it sing. It's noisy, vulgar and utterly meaningless—I love it!

Geoffrey: There will be struggle. There will be sacrifice. There will be tears, there will be the occasional fistfight. And in the end, there will be transformation.

-Slings and Arrows (assorted episodes)

You guys, I know I have talked about nothing else for months... I finally watched the pilot of Smash (it is on youtube and also on NBC's site) and just loved it. It's pretty clearly a not-particularly-deep soap opera, mind you, but a soap opera about Broadway WITH BROADWAY MUSIC; therefore, I loved it. (And I am incredibly bored by Glee.) Because, I guess, shows about serious putting-on-a-show really speak to me.

It isn't nearly as this is clearly really awesome as Slings and Arrows (from which all the above quotes are taken -- I could not pick just one) -- which you should all go watch right now, by the way; it's got the dialogue-and-humor awesomeness of the West Wing coupled with the creating-a-production themes of Smash as well as performances of Shakespeare. Smash has neither S&A's amazing dialogue and humor nor its deep treatment of performance themes (which is what I was really hoping for), and the Marilyn Monroe musical is fun but not particularly amazing (the Hamlet lyrics above are much more impressive than any of the Smash lyrics)... but the show speaks to the same parts of my psyche as S&A (it made me utterly bouncy to see how much all the characters clearly loved the musical world), and I actually liked it more than I liked the pilot of S&A, because the characters are more likeable, even if S&A's pilot impressed me a lot more.

There is some suspension of disbelief required to put Katherine McPhee on anything like the same plane in Broadway acting ability as Megan Hilty (who is gorgeous and wonderful and I just wanted to jump up and down every time she was on screen -- although to be perfectly fair her voice sounds a little hoarser than McPhee's, but it may just be an artifact of a naturally lower voice?). Hilty is perfectly, perfectly cast. Have I mentioned how much I adore her? Christian Borle was also perfectly cast. He gets to do a lot of very nice acting with a character who has his good points and bad points too -- it looks like he really has a much larger part than it looked like in the previews -- and he does not have to sing anything seriously, which is also a good thing. (But, since he's the songwriter, it looks like he will still get to sing on occasion, not seriously. Which is also a Good Thing.) Everyone else is really, really good, but I was really watching it for those two. (Although I never noticed before what a big nose Borle has!)

I loved Hilty's line "It was amazing getting the chance to work with you!" Just the way she says it, and her expression... it is totally clear what she means. Also, in breaking news, I love Hilty.


I am so pleased that the love interest gets to be a non-white boy!

Also, ahahahaha Spider-man jokes!

Why random house boy is in all the audition scenes, I DO NOT KNOW. That was the one extremely jarring note for me.

So, definitely going to keep watching it. It could get better, and it could also get a lot worse (especially if they start piling on the cliches -- there were definite directions that way in the pilot). We'll see.

(Also... I have to go back now to S&A and watch Richard Smith-Jones! And Anna! And Geoffrey Tennant! And who could forget Darren! It's been too long.)
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Not sure anyone is actually reading these, but anyway, I've been informed that there are going to be five more episodes, not three, to get back to the pilot time, and I... just don't have the patience. Plus which I don't tend to watch TV unless [profile] liuzhia is actively poking me, and I think she lost interest even before I did. Although she is now poking me to watch Once Upon a Time (watched the pilot, was bored, am told it gets better), so who knows. And I'm still holding out for Smash (preview here) in Feburary, because Megan Hilty! And Christian Borle! And Broadway songs! And belted duets! How could it go wrong?

...many ways, honestly, but I'll reserve judgment until then.
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I have to say, I'm really getting bored with this show and don't know how long I will stick with it. Probably until ep 13 just to see how it plays out, but possibly not beyond that.

But anyway. Not quite a week late! Short recap of Treachery )
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Yeah, so, I have for the first time in ten years been watching a TV show around the same time (within a week of) the actual air date! I blame [profile] liuzhia, the Kid (both of whom are watching it with me), and the ABC iPad app.

Also, since I have way too much to do, I've been writing down my response to the episodes. Here's last week's, which I didn't like at all. This week's to follow.

Spoilers, obviously, for Intrigue, otherwise known as Ep in Which People Almost Without Exception Act Really Stupidly and Kind of Annoy Me. )


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