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 After a number of dreams about nuclear war or other threats, I suppose last night's, in which I converted to (presumably Reform) Judaism and also became a stripper in order to pay the bills while I did social work, was a great improvement, if a bit weird. 

ETA -- near the end of the dream, I also finally got a paid knitting assignment, which in fact just happened now, so, uh, l'chaim?
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 It's possible I'm the last one to know this -- I'd seen a couple of pages floating around Tumblr of a Junji Ito story involving a cat. Today I finally googled "Junji Ito cat" and discovered there's a whole manga called Junji Ito's Cat Diaries (scans of the first few chapters here), which is basically gentle domestic comedy about Ito, his wife, and their two cats; but it's still drawn in Ito's horror-manga style.

Anytime J-Kun (Ito) is surprised by something (which is often) there's a closeup of his bloodshot, horrified eyes. His wife A-Ko, meanwhile, has completely white, pupil-less eyes in most panels, which make her constant smile the stuff of nightmares.

As for the cats, Yon has "a cursed face" and spots on his back that look like a skull; Mu seems like a fairly normal Norwegian Forest Cat, but sometimes he bites. Generally everything looks like it's going to turn gruesome, but never does, although J-Kun sometimes hallucinates.
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I don't usually get nightmares, but lately, due to politics or other stress, I've been having a lot of dreams involving threats, conspiracies, falling, or post-nuclear wastes. I still don't know if they count as nightmares -- I'm usually too detached in my dreams to feel anything more than unease. Still, last night's dream was a welcome change: I was at a party where I didn't know anyone except the host and his girlfriend (who seemed to be older versions of Wyatt and Caitlin from the animated show 6teen); but I was enjoying myself -- music was playing and we were all drinking cocktails from lab test tubes. Suddenly my mother walked in, asked a bunch of questions about gardening (not-Wyatt's place was a suburban ranch-style house), then left after a few minutes. I started asking everybody if they'd seen her too, or if I'd just hallucinated the interruption.

On an unrelated topic, thanks and good luck to everyone marching for Science! today.
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 The plan today was to take Andrew to his appointment at St. Mike's, and then to the ROM to see the new blue whale exhibit so he'd have something to look forward to after the hospital visit. I booked three Wheel-Trans trips: home to St. Mike's, St. Mike's to the ROM, ROM to home.

As usual, getting picked up at home was fine, and we were dropped at the main Queen St. entrance. Now, when I book the rides on the website, it gives me several suggestions for St. Mike's. I'd clicked on "Shuter Street" because it popped up on the list of recently used, and I clicked for both the drop-off and the pick-up.

You can probably guess where this is going. The Shuter Street entrance (where I don't recall *ever* having been dropped off on past visits) is around the other side of the building, and after waiting for half an hour past pickup time, I saw the appointment had dropped off the website, i.e., the driver had waited there for us and finally given up. At this point we decided to cancel the ROM pickup and just go straight home on the streetcar.

Now, much of the fault here was mine because I made the wrong call while booking, and also assumed that we would be picked up at the same spot we were previously dropped (normally a fair bet, but because we had planned to visit the ROM I'd booked three one-way trips instead of a round trip); but it confirms something which many of you have probably already figured out but which hit my brain on Sunday while trying to figure out which door of the Tim Horton's was the entrance and which was locked -- stairs are an accessibility barrier, but so are confusing signs and inefficient layouts. 
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 Rewatching TOS a couple of months ago, I'd noticed that cannon!Kirk is almost completely different than the popular image of the character, but Erin Horakova in Strange Horizons goes into more detail (and semiotics theory, so, y'know, brace yourselves for that).

Especially good points --
1. Everyone knows Nimoy was Jewish, not so many people know Shatner is, and it's something to take into account as part of the subtext in stories like "The Conscience of the King."
2. A lot of Kirk's "conquests" in TOS are more like "Kirk plays along with the situation/distracts the guard."
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 I am qualified to knit, so here's hoping the yarn company throws some work my way. I had an interview Monday with a temp agency which I thought I flubbed, but I must have done ok on the aptitude tests because they sent me in for an interview with the client yesterday. That one I thought went well, but today the temp agency says I was rejected:
"They felt that you had great technical skills for the role however, they are not confident that it would be a good fit with the administrators."
I tried asking whether I'd been too assertive or too quiet, and was told "Personality wouldn’t fit with other personalities." So I don't know whether the interview disliked me, or whether someone else was listening in, or heard a description of me afterwards and thought "not her."

I mean, if the company culture is like that, I'm probably better off not working there, but I don't like having my paranoia encouraged. Anyway, I've got an interview with another company on the 28th, so I'll see how that one goes.
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 1. Almost done the baby sweater I have to knit to prove I can knit so I can potentially get some piecework as a test knitter. I'll have it done well before the ten-day turnaround time they need, though I've come to the conclusion that the hood is the most voluminous part of the hoodie.

2. Watched the 1931 Maltese Falcon a couple of days ago. I prefer Bebe Daniels' Miss Wonderly (they never drop the alias in this version) to Mary Astor's. Dwight Frye as Wilmer gets less screen time than Elijah Cook, Jr., but is equally nervy; he apparently kills Gutman (Dudley Digges) and Dr. Cairo (Otto Matieson) offscreen as they head back to "Constantinople." Digges isn't bad; his Kaspar Gutman makes me think he would have played an excellent Mr. Pickwick or, in the villain line, Charles Augustus Milverton. Matieson's Cairo is basically the same as Lorre's, but he misses putting it over the top like Lorre.

As Spade, Ricardo Cortez (born Jacob Krantz) is a completely different character from Bogart's detective. I feel like Bogart is a 1940s character and Cortez is a 1930s one, if that makes sense. He swings wildly between suave and goofily, snappishly sarcastic. He might even have the tiniest touch of sentiment, but only the tiniest. He was definitely sleeping with his partners wife -- for one thing she's Thelma Todd as opposed to Gladys George, who seemed flaky enough to have just imagined his interest, and who did not, in 1941, leave a kimono at Spade's place. There is a neat twist at the end, as long as you don't understand enough Cantonese to have been spoilered back in the first few scenes.

3. I have deleted my LJ, though I think it takes sixty days to believe me. I've located most of my LJ flist on DW, and feel rather as though we ought to have some kind of site-warming party, though it's not easy across time zones. Feel free to post hellos in the comments, however.

ETA 4. Also rewatched Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle which, if you've never seen it, is a movie that has absolutely zero interest in subtlety or psychological realism. Its cartoonish grotesquerie is more touching than a lot of Oscar-nominated films, probably because of the sincerity of Chow's love for the Shaw Brothers, the Warner Brothers, the Peking Opera (I'm guessing from the soundtrack), unexplained heel-face turns and fairytale logic. I'd like to see it in a double bill with Galaxy Quest, because the former is about storytelling as the greatest human invention and Kung Fu Hustle is the kind of ridiculous cheese that could inspire naive extraterrestrials to acts of nobility and heroism.

Arks

Apr. 1st, 2017 08:32 pm
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 Browsing Youtube, I watched a couple of edits of The Nightwatch, the 2004 video piece in which artist Francis Alÿs released a fox into the National Portrait Gallery after hours (with the gallery's permission) and filmed its explorations with the location's CCTV cameras. The work was intended to be a statement about surveillance (the National Portrait Gallery wasn't terribly worried about the fox doing any damage, but they were the only ones willing to let their security cameras be used, because they don't hide their presence from the public like many other institutions do), but for most viewers the real fascination is watching a wild animal in a very human-centric environment. 

Recently I've seen a video of a stag in a cathedral. I wasn't sure of the reason for its presence -- a church once harboured a lioness in during Hurricane Ike, just as flamingos were placed in one of the Miami zoo's public washroomsfor safety in Hurrican Andrew. There were two videos of the event on Youtube -- the one posted in 2015 and logically the original, or closer to the original, had no music dubbed over it, just a repetitive squeaking noise -- machinery? Subsequent searching revealed it to be a test shot for another video piece, Furtherance by Leonora Hamill; the making-of video is here. I suppose none of these animals were truly wild -- the stag was apparently named Chambord, the fox Bandit, and the lioness Shackle. I don't know if the flamingos had names.
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 I made it through two job-screening interviews by telephone today, and have a face-to-face interview tomorrow for one of the jobs. I think I need to up my mess, though -- I was shaky and exhausted afterwards. Andrew's been under a lot of stress lately; everyone's been under a lot of stress lately, and I guess it's finally hitting me.

Applied for a side gig making up knitting samples; hope the kit for the test project arrives soon so I can at least work on something. Heard that Glad Day bookstore is starting a Monday-night knitting circle and I might take work to that.

Someone on Facebook last week asked about borrowing clothes for a play and I photographed and offered a few. They seemed interested, but I haven't heard further. Trying to decide whether or not to alter the garments in the meantime to look more 1940s in case they come back to me at the last moment with a yes.

Question -- I've been interested for a few years in 1940s headscarves, but I don't know if I can wear one in public with out looking like I'm ripping off Black style or Muslim headgear. Thoughts?


Going to another demo on Saturday.

March 25th

Mar. 25th, 2017 12:57 pm
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 Burning Girls, by Veronica Schanoes.

About halfway through, you'll figure out what story the characters are in. Their trouble is the other story they're in.
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We've been watching old bootleg copies of Vengeance Unlimited by way of escapism, and Andrew dug up his copies of Michael Madsen's poems, which are exactly as gonzo as you'd expect them to be; he's really determined to be beater than Beat and noirer than noir.

The Read Thru

When you make a bad film, it's there
Forever.
Like a big 250 ft. Herpe, with two
legs, and two arms and a big ugly
head always showing up when you
least expect it. Walking up
behind you; walking toward you,
with an "I'm gonna f*ck you up"
look on its face.

Everyone sees the damn things.

Over and over. Your friends, your
enemies, strangers. That's never true for the good films
you have, if there are some.

Anyway.

This big, swollen, red, festering
rotting 250 ft. pus vessel has
big feet, too. In a nightmare, they'll
be the last thing you see coming
down to smash your f**k**g head.

Sometimes, it's saying, "Hey, I'm not so bad."
But you know the truth.
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 CCCC came out to protest the anti-Islamophobia motion again, so Andrew and I went downtown for the counter-protest. The weather was less horrid than last time, but the crowd was smaller and more tense, with a lot of police between them and us. Meanwhile, the St. Patrick's Day parade moved along the other side of Nathan Phillips Square. 

We mostly chanted "No hate, No fear, Refugees are welcome here," and "Nazi Scum off our streets." Andrew didn't join in on the latter -- he still feels uncomfortable calling people nazis, even if, as I noted, the CCCC group contained the unusual combination of the JDL and the Soldiers of Odin; perhaps he felt "nazi" was too simple to describe that mix. I didn't argue with him. The remainder of the group looked like everyone I've ever seen browbeat a cashier with demands to speak to the manager, and that scared me more -- when we took a break for lunch, I kept glancing around the Eaton's Centre, wondering whether any of the people nearby had come from the rally, and whether anyone would recognize me and scream traitor! in the middle of the food court.

Shortly after we got back to the square, CCCC moved on, planning, I was told, to march down to Front Street. The police continued to escort them as they yelled about how we were threatening their freedom of speech. Andrew was tired, so we got on the subway and I didn't see whether they collided with the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
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 I think it's also supposed to be the Day Without a Woman protest today, but I'm currently between paying jobs*, and I have yet to determine if Andrew can manage on his own today. So my action will most likely to be to point out that like a lot of other women, I'm doing a lot of unpaid nursing and emotional labour.** 

* I did have an interview yesterday. We'll see if they get back to me.

** I also acknowledge that the protest is kind of problematic in itself given how many women really can't afford to lose a day's pay.
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 Finally got around to watching the latest Dr. Who the other day. The Return of Dr. Mysterio is actually a pretty good riff on superhero tropes, mainly the Clark Kent/Superman/Lois Lane relationship; but I was most interested by the return of Matt Lucas as a regular, mainly because his character, Nardole, is pinging all my "more than they seem to be" radar.

Nardole looks human, but has not aged in the 29-plus years that have elapsed in the story since we first met him (granted, he spent much of that time as a cyborg); he's quite capable of flying the TARDIS himself (albeit with a detour that led to his ruling 12th-century Constantinople for a while); and in the last scene he briefly drops his comical manner to assure the other characters, and by extension the audience, that the Doctor "will be all right -- I'll see to that" before switching his Laurel-and-Hardy grin back on and waving them a cheery farewell.

By all accounts, the decision to keep Lucas on wasn't planned from the beginning, but I'll be interested to see where this goes.
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Went to the counter-demo at Nathan Philips Square. I think the Anti-Muslim demo we were countering were over on the east side of the square. There were police (some in riot gear) standing guard near them, and our marshals were trying to keep us over at the other side, though I think some of the counter-demonstrators had gone over anyway, as there were some signs on the fringes of the their crowd that didn't seem to fit. I think their actual numbers were relatively small. Meanwhile we did keep edging closer to the centre of the square, following the sunbeams like a cat.

Feeling like a coward, though, because I didn't confront the guy I saw waiting for the bus at Queen/Roncesvalles on the way home, who was yelling racist stuff at a motorist, and then more general stuff at his own dog and at the bus driver. The driver did report him for animal cruelty though.
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We went to an open house at a mosque downtown, where they gave us a tour of the building (originally built in 1940 as a bank), demonstrated calligraphy, and gave us assorted snacks including some very nice baklava.

Then we went with some friends to Tian An Cuisine, which serves dishes from the Jianxi province of China. Lots of chilli peppers, yet I didn't find the spiciness overwhelming as I usually do. Didn't try the frog's legs though.



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Toronto's been having a warm spell this weekend. It won't last, but that's no reason not to enjoy it. Walking around in a lightweight coat, or having the living-room window open a crack during the day, is a mood boost even if the world is still messed up and I'm still job-hunting.
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This one was scripted by Bertram Millhauser, who worked on most of Universal's Sherlock Holmes movies, and I kept expecting Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce to show up and sort matters out. In their absence, Robert Griffin comes to England after escaping from a Capetown asylum for the criminally insane, and accuses his old friends Sir Jasper and Lady Irene Hedrick of deliberately leaving him for dead after he was hit by a falling branch on their South African expedition years before. They plead that his injury was showing the expedition down, so they'd left him in the care of the most trusted bearer. This does sound a bit flimsy, and when Griffin comes over all woozy after accepting a drink from Lady Irene, Andrew and I figured she was the real villain and had arranged the original accident.

Griffin falls into a river, falls in with a local yokel who pulls him out, and they try unsuccessfully to sue/blackmail the Herricks. When that fails, Griffin wanders about muttering angrily until he meets mad scientist Dr. Drury (John Carradine). Drury's not such a bad sort, although his animal testing probably isn't up to modern RSPCA standards; he's got a lot of Invisible animals, including his pet parrot Methusulah and his guard dog Brutus. Griffin volunteers to be the first human test subject, then takes off while Drury plans to write up the results and present them to the Royal Society.

He goes back to the Herricks' and harasses them invisibly for a while. When their daughter returns home to care for her stressed-out parents, Griffin decides he needs to be visible again. He goes back to Drury, who has just made Brutus visible again via a blood transfusion from another dog, but balks at draining a human's blood to treat Griffin, so Griffin takes his blood, somehow performing a blood transfusion with no medical training or awareness of blood typing, and leaves him dead. So now he's visible again, but effectively a vampire, as the effects of the transfusion keep wearing off, although Brutus appears to be fine, and after a few more scenes, is ultimately the one who kills Griffin. "Wait," we said, "so was Lady Irene innocent the whole time?"
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 It's been snowing off and on. Friday night we watched a couple of Universal's lesser-known sequels to The Invisible Man: The Invisible Agent and The Invisible Man's Revenge, both of which were deeply weird.

The Invisible Agent (1942)
It's like Curt Siodmak saw Leslie Howard disappearing into the shadows at the end of Pimpernel Smith and thought "wouldn't it be great to have an invisible guy fighting nazis?" Unfortunately Frank Raymond/Griffin (grandson of the the original Invisible Man), is a lousy secret agent. He's reasonably heroic in the opening scenes, but once he's invisible, he ruins the heroine's honey trap for an SS officer with childish pranks, stealing food off the the table and moving furniture, until the officer storms out without giving away any information, leaving guards to keep the woman under house arrest.
This sets the pattern for the rest of the movie -- Miss Sorensen is brave, clever and committed, and Griffin keeps screwing up her carefully-laid plans with his wild improvisation, especially once he decides she's working for the Germans. I can headcannon that the paranoia and madness seen in the other Invisible Man movies are setting in, but the picture never actually addresses this; maybe Griffin was just always an arrogant dolt.
I haven't mentioned Peter Lorre yet. He plays Japanese ambassador/spymaster Baron Ikito, and it's a curious portrayal; he eschews yellowface or a stereotypical accent -- in fact it took a few scenes for me to realize the character was even supposed to be Japanese -- and while villainous, he seems more dignified than the cartoonishly evil Nazi officers. In fact he ultimately destroys the main villain. It's not exactly a heel-face turn; Griffin and Sorensen have thrown enough spanners in the works to ruin the German plans to invade America, and Ikito, having been double-crossed by the head German spymaster, fatalistically tells him they've both failed, stabs him, and then quietly commits seppuku. The sleazy-comical officer Miss Sorensen was seducing in her opening scenes seems set to ironically come out on top, but gets shot by his own soldiers. Miss Sorensen flies herself and Griffith to safety (by this time I'd have abandoned him) and the last scene is of him recovering in hospital, learning she really is an Allied agent, and refusing to tell her how he became visible again because "it's a military secret." She'll probably figure it out anyway.

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