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[personal profile] shannon_a
Today we saw Sister Act: The Musical at Berkeley Playhouse. I've never seen the original, but it looks like the plot points are largely the same. The big difference is in the music. Apparently, the original had pop music from the time, while this one has original music, much of it with a disco feel, because the time period has been moved back to 1977-1978.

One of the things that amused me about the play is that it feels like someone sold it as "The Sound of Music, but set entirely in the nunnery". You see, a stranger comes to town (the nunnery / the Van Trapp estate). She teaches the residents (nuns / children) how to sing. They're brought together by this. Then villains descend (gangsters / Nazis) and the nuns gang up to protect the outsiders (the Van Trapps / Deloris). The musical even highlights this similarity by having Deloris gush early on about the nuns fighting the Nazis in The Sound of Music, then having one of her nuns sing a quick do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do.

Early on, I was troubled a bit by some of the racial politics, as the play was mocking the differences between an urban black woman and this largely white monastery. But it quickly moved on, and the rest of the musical was about the unifying powers of music and sisterhood. Something that really charmed me about the excellent writing of the musical was that it did a great job of strongly characterizing several of the characters, so that it didn't feel like a play about just Deloris, but also Sweaty Eddy, Mary Margaret, and the Mother Superior (at the least).

The most disappointing thing about the musical was that I found most of the women's songs just OK. I think that's because most of them didn't reveal character, like the best musical songs do. Instead they tended to reveal themes (e.g., Deloris' initial song was about heaven, then she and the nuns sang many songs together that were well-constructed religious songs that blended Deloris' jazzy gospel with religious teaching). But I also don't love gospel; it's OK. The exception was Mother Superior, who had some intriguing philosophical songs, where she was often talking to God. Oh, and Mary Margaret's "The Life I Never Led" was pretty good. So maybe it was just Deloris and the Nun Ensemble's songs that weren't as great as the rest.

The best songs, obviously, were then from the men, which was a bit sad in a play peopled by so many strong women. Curtis Shank had a great murder/love song about Deloris called "When I Find My Baby", that we think may be what made some people decide at intermission that perhaps they didn't want to return for the second half with their children. Then Sweaty Eddie had "I Could Be That Guy", an "I Want" song, but one that really went to the core of his character, that had some great choreography, some shocking costume changes, and made him the star of our local show due to the terrific performance.  Then the bad guy's henchmen had a hilarious song about seducing nuns called "Lady in the Long Black Dress".

And how can you fault lyrics that rhyme "Mary Magdalene" (twice, I think) and "transubstantiation" (once, I think)?

Good actors and singers, as usual. Sweaty Eddy was the hit, as I said. A few tripped up lines, because this was opening weekend. 

Irreverent and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. It's showing for the next month.

I would have thought lawful

Sep. 24th, 2017 11:59 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I Am A: Chaotic Good Human Paladin/Sorcerer (4th/3rd Level)


Ability Scores:

Strength-13

Dexterity-8

Constitution-16

Intelligence-10

Wisdom-8

Charisma-7


Alignment:
Chaotic Good A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. However, chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment when it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.


Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.


Primary Class:
Paladins take their adventures seriously, and even a mundane mission is, in the heart of the paladin, a personal test an opportunity to demonstrate bravery, to learn tactics, and to find ways to do good. Divine power protects these warriors of virtue, warding off harm, protecting from disease, healing, and guarding against fear. The paladin can also direct this power to help others, healing wounds or curing diseases, and also use it to destroy evil. Experienced paladins can smite evil foes and turn away undead. A paladin's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast. Many of the paladin's special abilities also benefit from a high Charisma score.


Secondary Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.


Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

A leaf

Sep. 24th, 2017 04:57 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Taken from a couple of angles over about a minute.

Read more... )

I am taking care of someone's cats

Sep. 24th, 2017 04:45 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
As one does, I keep a log of my visits.

The cats expressed their appreciation for my record-keeping.

Read more... )

In Which I Am Very Frazzled

Sep. 23rd, 2017 08:04 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
[personal profile] shannon_a
I'm going to be traveling in October, and thus I've started waking up earlier in the morning, trying to get myself on East Coast time (and closer to European time). The waking up earlier can leave me a little tired, but it pays out when I'm actually able to sleep on the earlier schedule when I'm back East. However, what really frazzles me is the lost of time in the evening, and everything gets pressed closer together, and I don't have the time to do everything that I want to do.

On the bright side, my usual pattern while cycling earlier is to go out for a one-hour hike above Clark Kerr first thing in the morning. This wakes me up in the early hours, and also helps me expend energy so I'm more likely to sleep at night. And I get a nice, physical intro to the day, and I interact with some people (and their dogs) even before I work.

The weather's been particularly nice. I usually shed my jacked before I get to the hills. And today we got bright blue and clear skies too. The Golden Gate Bridge was about as crystal clear as it ever gets

Anywho, short evenings aren't the only reason I'm frazzled. Lots of stuff going on too.

With help from a Facebook friend, I found a general contractor to take a fourth try at our downstairs tub, and K. actually got him out here last Saturday. He is pretty confident that the problem is that the proper, legally required waterproofing wasn't put in behind the tile walls. I had pictures of the tub under construction, and he said, yeah, it looks like they just put greenboard behind the tiles, which is how you did this sort of thing thirty years ago.

I can totally believe it given the problems we had with the initial bathroom guy, and I'd about come to the conclusion that all of the tile needed to be ripped out and new stuff installed. Which is what he wants to do. He can't do the work until December, but his estimate is about $1500 + materials, maybe $2000 total, which sounds reasonable at this point. (Though not reasonable in the scope of things where we had this bathroom renovated exactly five years ago!)

In the meantime, he offered to put up some plastic on the walls to make the shower usable again. Since the upstairs shower is much less nice this seemed reasonable ... but we didn't realize quite what he intended. So we've got hard plastic walls up now in the downstairs tub, in front of the tiles, which will definitely do the job, but is a bit wasteful for something only intended to last a few months. So it goes.



Meanwhile, our neighbor suggested a gardener for us. I'm always leery of that type of ongoing cost going into our budget, but we came to the conclusion this year that we wanted to start having our front yard look like something other than a prairie wasteland, so that we'll have good Google Maps pictures years before we sell, and so that we'll really have it on the path to looking regularly nice by the time we sell.

So K. had been scheduling with him, and he finally made it out on Wednesday, very late, and only after K. gave him block-by-block instructions because he ended up at the wrong place twice before getting here. He seemed nice and very conscientious and responsive to our desire to have the yard thoroughly deweeded, then something planted when it's all dead. The deweeding is supposed to start on Monday, and then it'll be three months before we're clear of weeds, and then he'll do some planting as winter edges toward spring, maybe in February. He thinks that succulents will grow best, and I'm totally OK with that if they look good and aren't cactus.



Meanwhile, Lucy has been having bathroom problems very intermittently for a while, so when I was concerned with that last weekend, K. suggested that we should bring her in, so I wasn't worried about her on my trip(s). So we did, and it was suggested we up her wet food from once a week to every day, which is a big pain, but we're trying it out.

It had also been years since we'd taken Lucy into the vet, and the vet suggested a senior screen. It was expensive, but we agreed. It came back with her being in very good health, other than her level of dehydration that we were seeing. In fact they said our little ten-year-old cat's kidneys looked more like a two-year-old cat's. Given we lost both of our older cats to kidney disease, we were extremely relieved to hear that.



What else? What else? K hasn't been doing entirely well lately, which certainly contributes to household stress. I've been very busy during my work-week trying too simultaneously juggle too many tasks and also do things necessary to prep for our trip. I had an extremely productive work week last week, but that sort of thing comes at a cost.

And today I finished up "Book One" in what I intend as a trilogy in my Burning Wheel Clockwork Campaign. Perfect timing, as I managed it just before my trip, but that's a topic I'd like to dedicate an entry to later.

Tomorrow: Sister Act. (Meanwhile, pedophile-apologist and Neo-nazi-supporter Milo Y. marches on Sproul Plaza, probably resulting in helicopter riots.)
laurel: Picture of Laurel with Garibaldi cardboard standup (Default)
[personal profile] laurel
The sciatica returned for a bit, though less bad than it had been previously. Enough to be worrisome and annoying and with zaps of bad pain but not constant bad pain. I did All The Things and fortunately it went away after a week or so. Mostly. Was inspiration to keep doing the physical therapy stretches, that's for sure, which I'd skipped for a few days prior to this flare up.

+ + +

The new mattress is great so far, I think. I'm also sleeping with a pregnancy pillow at times (and no, I'm not pregnant and don't intend ever to be pregnant) and it seems to also help with the sciatica stuff. I think. Maybe. (It can be hard to tell.)

+ + +

We now have health insurance through MinnesotaCare! Hooray! Apparently from August onward and I'm still sorting out what we owe for various appointments in August and September and getting those paid for. Sadly doesn't cover the $600+ ER visit in July and I'm cranky about that but we'll cope. There were appeals and all manner of things we had to deal with to get this all sorted out. I think we should be covered for July too given our initial application (that was messed up by a Navigator) was made in June but it is not according to others. Harrumph. But we finally have health insurance we can actually afford and that is a great relief. Now I need to take advantage of it and get all the appointments made.

It works out that the local cheap federally subsidized clinic we've been going to is covered as well as my longtime psychiatrist at HealthPartners so that's excellent. (We went with the Healthpartners plan through MNCare.) I should be able to either go to HealthPartners for an eye exam (as I have my whole life) or to the aforementioned cheap clinic as both are covered. That reallllly needs to be my next appointment given my blurry vision which is blurry. (I really think it's just age-related changes to my eyes but it's trickier to tell for me than most given I'm already both farsighted and nearsighted, among other things. Trying to motivate myself to do that with the thought of new glasses plus, you know, seeing clearer.)

+ + +

I stalled for a bit in my Law & Order: Criminal Intent rewatch, ran into a couple of particularly gruesome episodes which surprised me a bit as I don't think of it as a gruesome show, it's not like Criminal Minds (which I gave up on because it seemed to embrace the truly grisly and gruesome). But that episode with Neil Patrick Harris as a cannibal of sorts? Ew ew ew.

Right after that comes "Great Barrier" which is the Nicole Wallace episode with two different endings. I'm in the midst of that one at the moment.

+ + +

The Minnesota Twins may make the postseason and this is exciting after several years of not very good baseball. Bad baseball. This year the team has been pretty great with all sorts of exciting things going on, during the first half of the season they had a lousy record at home so it didn't feel like the season was going quite as well as it actually was. They've done better at home in the second half so we've seen lots of wins and just plain exciting games.

There are also young players coming into their own, which is great to see.

And then there's Joe Mauer, back to being himself after a couple of years of not doing well due to concussions and changing positions on the field as a result. People were hard on him, but it was clear to those of us who've watched him his entire career that he had to have been struggling with post-concussion symptoms. Heck, in one interview Mauer basically admitted to playing major league baseball while experiencing blurred vision. Can you imagine? He was no longer great at baseball but was still above average. During chunks of at least one season with blurred vision. The big weirdo.

Mauer is my favorite player and it was hard watching him struggle. And certain members of the local media in Minnesota have done their best to make local baseball fans hate the guy. Seriously. Non-local baseball fans are stunned to learn Mauer is hated by a large group of people in Minnesota because honestly what on earth is there to hate about Joe Mauer? Okay, some grumble that he's overpaid but it's not like he's the only athlete who is and it's not like he didn't earn that payday by being the best player in baseball for a time. That's what happens when you award someone for an awesome season or two with a multi-year contract, it just is. And somehow these people who complain forget that Joe Mauer was playing for not a lot of money (as pay for baseball players go) during his first few seasons. The pay for athletes is weird. (Before baseball players make it to the big leagues, they often toil for years in the minor leagues where they are paid far less than even minimum wage and often have to room with host families and do ridiculous things just to find a way to eat. It's bad, you guys, and I get so cranky about this but fortunately there's real movement to improve the situation. I hope. Mauer didn't have to toil like this, but most others do.)

Some of the other things people complain about re Mauer are the sorts of things that seem Very Minnesotan. Minnesotans hating on Mauer for being reserved and Minnesotan is just . . . wrong. And yet many do. Ugh.

Anyway. Watching Mauer get back to being great is a joy, not just because I enjoy watching great athletes be great but because it's a good sign he's recovered fully (or mostly) from his brain injury. I like that. Brain injuries suck and are hard to recover from.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Which is creating the Amazon and Chapters links for the book being review, I know one particular book is $19.19 if you buy it from Kobo and $11.71 from Kindle....

Star Wars: The Clone Wars S1

Sep. 23rd, 2017 12:15 am
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
Actually took me a bit to watch this because in between, first the Dragon inhaled Voltron: Legendary Defender, and then Joe (who had apparently seen the original Voltron?) watched out of curiosity and got sucked in and inhaled Voltron: Legendary Defender, and he WOULD NOT SHUT UP ABOUT IT until I watched it, and then I got sucked in and inhaled it in like four days and NOW I WANT MORE. But that's another post for another night.

cut for spoilers )

this week. month. season.

Sep. 22nd, 2017 04:20 pm
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
[personal profile] jazzfish
The weekend was alright-to-good. I'd moved my dentist appointment to Monday from the middle of next week, and that went fine except for some gumwork that I'll need to have done in a couple of weeks. Then come Tuesday night the stress stacked up again. Emily's successfully located a subleaser, at least for a couple of months: yay! I won't have to pay half the mortgage in addition to Vancouver rent, and I might even not be dipping into savings. At least for that couple of months.

Trouble was, the subleaser wanted in on 1 October, and I was scheduled to leave Thursday evening and not get back 'til next Sunday. The first. Panic ... did not exactly set in, though stress certainly did.

Over the course of Wednesday I:
  • Got a couple of friends to hang out with me Wednesday night and help finish packing, which otherwise would have been a) slow, b) frustrating, and c) generally sad-inducing.
  • Acquired a small storage unit on short notice.
  • Decided to just call in exhausted on Thursday due to not sleeping well (this is not a lie), and just go in for my early-morning meetings.
So that happened and the packing went fine, and the move itself went fine. I left the bookcases and coffee-table there for the subleaser's use; the bookcases might fit into the storage unit if necessary. I'd intended to find myself a new better bed and move the old one to the condo so the subleaser could use it but given my state the last week or so, finding a decent bed was Not Happening. I'll throw money at Emily to find a bed. And then I guess I'll have two low-end beds.



After all that I made it back to my basement apartment about an hour before I'd expected, with plenty of time to pack for ten days up north. Indeed, I managed to leave about an hour early to get to the airport, so I'd have plenty of time to grab a leisurely dinner before my flight.

Except that when I got to the airport I realised I'd forgotten my viola, which would make it difficult to a) practise and b) have a Skype lesson on Tuesday. So, half an hour transit back out to the apartment and half an hour back to the airport, and there went all the extra time I'd built in for dinner. I did manage to grab something to eat anyhow but it was a close thing.

I then discovered, once I got here, that I'd left my glasses at home as well. This is deeply frustrating, as it rather limits my late-evening options. It's also gonna make things interesting if my contacts self-destruct again.

(I briefly thought I had lost my Nexus card, but it turned up again. Still not sure what happened there. I'd blame my lack of glasses except that I generally find things by touch and not by sight, so.)



But the weekend was pretty good: reconnected with Erin, went out to a couple of events to start trying to make connections in the local kink community, generally got a little more sociable and a little less stuck in my own head.

And today's the equinox, so maybe the horrificness has just been the fault of summer and it'll start to settle out now. I can hope, anyway.

On digging of ditches

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:01 am
brooksmoses: (Default)
[personal profile] brooksmoses
There are a couple of young men (from a local plumbing company) in my front yard digging a ditch -- or approximately so; it might be more accurately described as an enlongated hole to access a sewer pipe that needs replacing.

They've been at it for a couple of hours, and have made vastly more progress than I was able to make in quite a few hours of manual digging. Part of this is that they've got a small electric jackhammer, but it's clear that a fair bit of this is simply that they're better at it than I was.

Which just goes to show that "unskilled labor" involves skills too.

New Worlds discusses rites of passage

Sep. 22nd, 2017 09:00 am
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

The general theme for this month has been stages of life, and we close that out with rites of passage. Next week, because the Patreon passed one of its funding goals a while ago, will be a fifth (bonus) essay, on the more theory-side aspects of worldbuilding!

Comment over there.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

iPods

Sep. 21st, 2017 10:53 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Haven't been around long enough for an adult to reference the technology as something around when they were kids. That's just crazy talk -- 16 years ago, you say?
yhlee: snowflake (StoryNexus: snowflake)
[personal profile] yhlee
[Note: I used Cheris and Jedao as my playtest characters when working on Winterstrike, a StoryNexus game I wrote for Failbetter Games.]

"I can't believe you didn't think it was worth telling me that we're living inside a game," Jedao was saying.

Cheris sighed. "I didn't tell you," she said, "because you wouldn't be able to shut up about it, and it's hard being a good playtest character when someone keeps ranting." cut for Ninefox spoilers, I guess? )

art accountability

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:19 pm
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
Sunday's sketch of the Dragon while we were getting food:


(Dammit, I like life drawing, even if I'm too n00b to be good at it. Joe says I have been getting better since I started a few years back though.)

Pen: Pelikan M205 Aqumarine (F nib)
Ink: Diamine Eclipse

Moving on from heads to eyes and lips? )

I haven't gotten back to Ctrl+Paint because life has been busy, but yesterday my art accountability was working on a Thing in Photoshop, mainly blocking in values.