LJ wrangling

With the change to styles and updates and such I've lost track of where one goes to modify how an LJ handles comments (e.g. is anon allowed). Anyone able to point me to where that's managed now?


F*ck that, let's do music

I'm staying late at work again, partly because work is super-busy and partly because I need to head to MIT in a bit to get some food and go to an Arisia concom meeting. The set of tabs I have open is laughable and I have minimal time to do my research and cross-checking that I usually do for these posts. So excuse me if I just dive right in; for the first batch I think I'll give you a couple of the not-the-usual...
Jax Jones's "House Work" is a tight, slightly fuzzy electro-house tune - that's the first link. The track came out this summer and has guest appearances from MNEK, who has gotten Grammy nominations for work fronted by people like Beyonce and Madonna, and Mike Dunn, a longtime Chicago house DJ/producer.

Turn that over to SNBRN who comes out with a deep house remix that removes a lot of the fuzz and downplays the electro in favor of a stronger bass line and thrum. I think the remix is better than the original, but I can see the appeal in each.
I'm linking this one as much for the novelty as anything else. I can't recall ever hearing a KT Tunstall remix before. I'm not actually a Tunstall fan to begin with so I can't give this the same ear as a real fan could, but I still think it sounds good. You've got about a minute of intro and then the track kicks into higher gear with something that isn't the traditional EDM 'drop' but serves the same purpose. The original ( has Tunstall's vocals wrapped in some pretty obvious heavy autotuning and overproduction. The remix strips a lot of that away, which is a nice change.
I thought I had blogged this a while ago and I'm pleased to see it's well over 15 million views now. Swing either never went entirely out of style or has been back in style for as long as I've been paying attention. Along with that style has come something called electro-swing that combines swing traditions (rhythm, energy, acrobatic dancing, instrument selection) with EDM sensibilities. Here AronChupa puts electronic and acoustic instruments together with Little Sis Nora's torch-hot vocals to create a fun electro-swing number with some really nice dancing in the vid.
I'm pretty sure that Hungry Lucy came to me off my work music Slack and it's definitely not my usual fare. It's got some electronica but what makes the track good is the haunting front vocals. I'm generally a fan of trip-hop but it's not often this dark.
iMAD takes a 1960's classic "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and gives it a distinctly modern groove-house feel. Not my usual but like the Tunstall I can't recall ever hearing this one get a remix before so I thought I'd link it and see what you all think.

Next "step" in the foot saga

For background see this entry:

After two weeks of wearing the surgical "shoe" - basically a board strapped to my foot - and showering with said foot in a plastic bag I went for my follow-up. 48 hours ahead I got x-rays. I'm now back in normal shoes that have inserts and I need to buy new sneakers.

The most lasting effects were from not being able to walk normally for two weeks, which left my hips and back in pretty bad shape. I've been slowly getting back to walking - on Saturday I did an unintentionally intense hike uphill through dense underbrush for about 2 miles and survived that OK (though I needed a nap and most of Sunday off from walking). Monday I walked about another 3 miles around WPI campus, about which more in another entry.

The foot is occasionally sore particularly when the dog stomps on the less-protected toe, but it's getting better. I really need new walking shoes, though. Details and longer-term stuff behind the cut (nothing gross)...
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I saw "Woman in Gold" and had to walk for an hour to recover

Over Labor Day weekend I went to visit the girlfriend and see her new place. One morning's plans got torpedo'ed because she wasn't feeling well so we stayed in and watched a movie. We sort of picked "Woman in Gold" because it was something I'd wanted to see and missed in theaters and she's lived in Germany and knows a lot about history so we figured why not. (4/5 almost entirely because Mirren is awesome)

As advertised, Helen Mirren does an excellent job as Maria Altmann, the woman whose aunt is portrayed in the eponymous painting. The story revolves around Ms Altmann's efforts to recover the painting, which was stolen from her family by the Nazis. She's opposed by the Austrian government for whom the Klimt painting and its companions have become national symbols and for whom the concept of "reparations" was mostly an abstract concept hearkening back to a past that late-20th-century Austrians would like to put behind them.

Against Mirren's performance Ryan Reynolds comes off as scene-chewing and kind of spastic. He's trying hard and I can see how he can mature into a better actor with experience and work but dear gods he really highlights what a master of the craft Mirren is. She conveys a wide range of emotions with her expressions, intonations, and simple gestures But to Reynolds' credit he sticks with it and pulls it off.

Spoilers and triggers...
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It's a good movie to watch, if you're prepared for it. Me, I had to walk for nearly an hour afterward to shake it off.

I saw the Huntsman movies and they made one thing clear

I'm talking here about Snow White and the Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter's War. (3/5 stars because I really didn't expect much)

These are generally fun, mostly mindless, movies of the genre that used to be called "sword and sorcery". It's pseudo-medieval, features people swinging and firing weapons typical of the Middle Ages, wearing armor, riding horses, and then you get a sprinkling of fantastic creatures and some fancy SFX magical effects. It's now clear to me that Chris Hemsworth's character in Ghostbusters is largely parodying the Huntsman.

In order to critique these movies you'd have to take them seriously, which I think would be a mistake. There isn't the level of whimsy in, say, Princess Bride but the films are clearly fairy tales being told in a fairly lighthearted manner (though there is a fair amount of darkness and PG-13 content). They're good for what they are, which is a few hours of entertainment.

Kristen Stewart's Snow White is a very modernized Joan of Arc-infused heroine. Hemsworth's Huntsman is your classic tortured reluctant hero. Charlize Theron is a scarily menacing villain (pay some freakin' attention Disney). Emily Blunt is a suitably psychotic second villain in the Winter's War. And Jessica Chastain's Sara is the kind of woman warrior I wish we'd see more of. You know they'll come into conflicts and there's absolutely no suspense about the outcome of the conflicts and that's OK. The costuming is not bad, the effects aren't overly intrusive and the settings are interesting enough to pique my curiosity about where the films were shot (IMDB lists locations throughout the UK).

The films are probably best seen in order so long as you don't mind that the second film completely erases Finn (Sam Spruell) who played a fairly menacing villain with a bad haircut in the first one. In the first film, he's Ravenna's brother and a fair bit is made of their mystical bond and longevity of relationship. In the second film, which supposedly comes before the first in the story chronology, Finn's nowhere to be seen and not even mentioned.

We saw "Suicide Squad" and I still don't like movies about villains

This movie was the hardest to review of the set I've seen recently. I really wanted to like it, and there were a couple of really good performances. But the script is an utter mess - incoherent, spineless, and nearly pointless in places. If Warner/DC can't get it together soon they should just pick up their marbles and go home. 2/5 stars because Will Smith and Margot Robbie are good at their craft and someone has to pick up the Joker mantle so why not Jared Leto.

Can't do this without end-to-end spoilers, sorry...
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Footnote: This movie is likely forever to be my counter-example to my rule of thumb that having a single writer/director leads to better outcomes.

I saw "Indie Game: The Movie" and it was a lesson on pursuing your dream

(I've seen a remarkable number of movies for me lately; I'll try to keep the reviews short so I can get through all of them.)

Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary about four main developers working on three indie games as they struggle to get their works completed, either for release or for demonstration. I went into it expecting it to be something about game design or development, but really it's a piece bearing witness to the idea that "you should quit your job and follow your dream" is a perilous path. (3/5 stars)

All four of these people are (obsessively) pursuing their dreams. They're making no money, losing friends and marriages, and enduring at a minimum disbelief and scorn from the public as their game releases drag out and take longer than expected. The documentary keeps us in suspense until the end about whether any of the games will make it. That worked for me because I don't know indie games and didn't recognize the titles; if you know the games' history it might be a foretold conclusion.

Either way the movie really is about the people and their personal struggles, not about game development. They could have been craft micro-brewers or unknown writers or really any other lonely hard-working penurious individuals. In that sense, I felt the movie was something of a let-down. Though I did end up caring (mostly) about the people and wanting them to be successful, I also wanted to learn something about indie game development other than "geezus working years on a labor of love you really care about that nobody else can understand is hard and lonely and destructive."

I also could not help but notice that the chosen game developers were all young white males. While I have no doubt that's the majority of the population involved in this, my experiences at Arisia (which had an indie game expo last year and will again this year) as well as at other cons shows that there are indie-game makers of different genders, skin colors, and so on. Given that the film could only focus on a few individuals it would have been nice to see something of how these differences, which play very large in the commercial publication game world, play in the indie-game struggle.