Film: Wit

Mar. 3rd, 2015 11:02 am
liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
Reason for watching it: We screened it for the second year students, who are getting to the point where they're spending enough time in clinical environments that there's a good chance they will see someone die in the coming months. The idea is that they get a supportive environment in which to do at least some of the emotional work ahead of dealing with this for real, and hopefully they then won't completely fall apart when that happens. (There's a ton of research about the detrimental effects of medical students and trainee doctors not being adequately prepared to deal with death, but nobody quite knows what "adequately prepared" looks like. So we're working on it.)

Circumstances of watching it: Ugh, this term! I've had a solid six weeks with a heavy enough teaching and marking load that I feel I've been running a Red Queen's race since the new year, I haven't had time to do anything at all non-urgent, and it's making me really anxious. In theory things were supposed to slow down by the end of February; in practice everybody's kind of scrabbling, and the school were short of staff for running a bunch of sessions through March, so I've ended up roped into more teaching in the coming weeks. And because it's all last minute cover it's all in bits of the curriculum well outside my expertise. I really didn't want to be a facilitator for this session where we get the students to talk about death, but needs must. I kind of feel like this is one of the times where it's more important than usual to have a clinician leading, cos it's not just factual knowledge, it's being able to speak from experience of dealing with death as a doctor. But I suppose I was better than no-one.

Verdict: Wit is thought-provoking if at times over-dramatic.

So, look, the whole point of this film is that it's 90 minutes of the protagonist dying of cancer. Not in real time, it covers several months from diagnosis to the end, but the whole film, and therefore my review, is about illness and dying within the medical system.

fictional death )

It seems possible that I'm somewhat emotionally affected by this; the film is genuinely harrowing in places as well as a bit over-dramatic. And running the discussion where I had to manage a lot of the medical students' emotions was pretty draining, I think, especially coming on top of generally stressful stuff. So lots of things that should be fine are feeling daunting, just now. Send hugs pls?
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reason for watching it: I have a feeling I saw a trailer for it and thought it looked fun, and [personal profile] jack independently thought of it as a film we might both enjoy. It's had really surprisingly little buzz, goodness knows there's enough Disney fans, both adult and child, in my social circles.

Circumstances of watching it: I had a weekend that was in some ways wonderful, cos I got to spend time with people I really like, including [personal profile] khalinche and [personal profile] ceb. But in some ways a bit difficult, because I scheduled too many social things and didn't have quite enough time or focus for any of them, and I didn't handle communicating about this very well. Anyway, in the middle of this [personal profile] jack and I managed to plan a date to mark three years of marriage and seven years together. So, film.

Verdict: Big Hero 6 is a lovely piece of animation, albeit in service of a weak plot.

detailed review )

I found the film really endearing and exciting and just the thing for a date. I'd also be really intrigued to see it with children in the age-range of its target audience. I mean, I like it better than pretty much any other children's film I've seen since Wall·E, but I can see why something like Frozen was more commercially successful.

The showing also included a short, Feast, which I didn't really love. It has a very cute puppy, but the animation wasn't particularly great and the storyline is your basic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy proves his love by stalking girl shtick, and the cute puppy doesn't much make me favour that plot shape.
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
So when I was composing my post about PDA I intended to include in the discussion my reaction [personal profile] thingswithwings's post on I don't like X but. And the post got a bit out of hand, so I didn't have time to get to that discussion, so I'm adding it here.

This is a very meta sort of post, I'm talking about talking about potentially charged topics. So I'll at least mention violence including sexual violence, and I will also refer to sexually explicit including kinky stuff. I don't expect to go into lots of detail about anything, but those will be the topics. And now I'm being the centipede because the whole post is about how I should phrase this kind of description of what I'm about to write about and of course I've made myself completely self-conscious about doing so.

with that said )

Right, that ended up being not quite coherent. Let me put it out there anyway and see what people think.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
More of a linkspam really...

read more )


Feb. 23rd, 2015 08:12 pm
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
Various bitty things to record what I've been up to lately:

diary )

Also, congratulations to [personal profile] randomling who correctly guessed that what I was thinking of in Pessimized Twenty Questions was Croatia. [personal profile] randomling, you're of course welcome to start a new round if you like, but perhaps a single game was enough, playing by comment discussion. Honourable mention goes to [personal profile] seekingferret who played with great cunning, coming up with informative guesses and not getting trapped in assumptions based on what had been discovered so far.
ETA: [personal profile] randomling started another round, do go and join in!
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
I am doing a job that's both fiddly and intimidating, and I'm forcing myself to concentrate in very small chunks. So I would be most grateful if you'd join me in playing a silly game. I believe [personal profile] ceb invented this, and titled it pessimized twenty questions.

I'm thinking of something. In order to find out what it is, instead of asking yes/no questions as in traditional twenty questions, you are only allowed to ask me what my something is like. I will answer either: yes, it's a bit like what you guessed, or: no, it's more like French toast. I have to be honest, but I don't have to tell you in what way my thing is more like your thing or more like French toast. If you get a yes, your guess replaces French toast as the comparison object.

Like this:
Me: I'm thinking of something
Player: Is it like Guess1?
Me: No, it's more like French toast
Player: Is it like Guess2?
Me: Yes, it's a bit like Guess2.
Player: Is it like Guess3?
Me: No, it's more like Guess2.
Player: Is it like Guess4?
Me: Yes, it's more like Guess4 than Guess2.

Guesses should in general be specific things rather than categories of things. Eg "Is it like a tiger?" or "Is it like Cate Blanchett?" are legitimate questions, but "Is it like an animal?" or "Is it like a celebrity?" belong in trad twenty questions, not in the pessimized analogy version. And if you ask "Is it like [the thing I originally thought of]" then you win and you can think of something and lead the next round.

(I'm wondering if we can take advantage of threaded comments to make triangulating on the answer non-linear, but that's probably too complicated.)

I'll start the first round in the first comment, to make it easier to read if the game works and we want to try further rounds.

Book meme

Feb. 18th, 2015 10:46 am
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
I haven't got much new to add for Reading Wednesday, so I'll pick up a book meme that [ profile] ghoti posted, since it contains at least some questions I haven't answered before.

read more )
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
My current guilty pleasure: compulsively reading lots and lots of think pieces about Fifty Shades of Grey, even though I already know what I think about it, and have no more intention of watching the film than I had of reading the book. I really don't think the release of the film brings much new to the debate, I mean, wow, off-the-charts popular sexy book gets made into a blockbuster film, not exactly earth-shattering news.

Anyway, [personal profile] metaphortunate has the platonic ideal summary of all the FSoG opinions, and some really interesting meta-meta in reaction to it. can't post links without commentary! )


Feb. 12th, 2015 11:52 pm
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
I think this is going to one of these swirly posts where I ramble about a bunch of stuff that's been on my mind for a few weeks, and I'm not sure if it'll all come together. I'm thinking about the ethics and choices around expressing affection, including sexual affection, in public or at least in front of onlookers.

noodling )

What do you think, people? How do you balance these things? (Possibly by erring on the side of not talking about them on the internet, in which case you probably won't be in a position to comment!) But I'm working this stuff through in my mind and would appreciate some input. Feel free to contact me offline if you prefer.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
There are two things you should know about this post: I'm writing it as a non-mentally-ill person about issues that don't affect me directly, so please feel free to take with as much salt as you like, or ignore it if you hate that kind of thing. I'm mostly planning to link to the words of people who do have mental illnesses, but I'm bad at writing linkspams without my own commentary. And secondly, it concerns mental illness and some of the worst consequences of that, so it will mention triggering topics including self-harm, suicide, forced treatment and medical neglect / abuse.

if you still want to read on )
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
Things that are very, very good for Liv: time with friends, and new learning. And I've done really well with those these last few weeks. diary catch-up )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
So I have loved this bit of Heine, which is quoted in our prayer book, for many many years. And I've looked a couple of times for the original and never found it, mainly because I don't have good enough German to come up with plausible search terms (and anyway didn't know how close the translation we have was).

So anyway, the other day I asked [personal profile] kaberett, who speaks German well and knows poetry, and they found me the original! I'm reposting it here mainly because the site with the text is broken in weird ways and nearly impossible to link to directly. So now if I want to refer to it, I can find it:
Wenn der Frühling kommt mit dem Sonnenschein,
Dann knospen und blühen die Blümlein auf;
Wenn der Mond beginnt seinen Strahlenlauf,
Dann schwimmen die Sternlein hintendrein;
Wenn der Sänger zwei süße Äuglein sieht,
Dann quellen ihm Lieder aus tiefem Gemüt; -
Doch Lieder und Sterne und Blümelein,
Und Äuglein und Mondglanz und Sonnenschein,
Wie sehr das Zeug auch gefällt,
So macht's doch noch lang keine Welt.
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
The less geeky side of the FB crowd are discovering sharing memes just like we used to on LJ back in the early 2000s. It's very cute. But somehow, even doing a fun silly meme on FB feels unpleasant to me, a bit like trying to socialize in a skeevy noisy bar, where you can't hear conversations properly and you're always looking over your shoulder in case the aggression spills over.

So I'm pleased this list things beginning with a letter meme has shifted back to DW, where I feel like this kind of thing spiritually belongs, and anyway I feel lots more comfortable. [personal profile] pseudomonas gave me an A:

mememe )

Please comment if you'd like a letter. I don't promise to have a really robust randomizing method, but I don't suppose you care whether your letter is chosen at random or not.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: No new fiction this week. So have some links:
  • Cute personal account Jews and Muslims in France. I picked it up from Making Light, and it's nothing exceptional as journalism goes, just one person talking about her experiences. But it's a counter to the agitprop trying to turn Jews and Muslims against eachother, and valuable for that reason. It also very much reflects my own experience of interacting with Muslims, though mine is either in Britain rather than France, or more than 10 years ago.

  • Talking of positivity, I really enjoyed [ profile] illusive_shelle's verse response to the horrendous anti-Muslim propaganda on American TV: #FoxNewsFact. And a bonus sweetly scathing response in prose from [ profile] mrissa.

  • My Dad sent me this human interest story, which is rather cripspiration-ish, the thrust of the article is Deaf-blind guy marries and has a child, isn't that amazing?! But the thing is that I have a distant connection to this guy, because he was in the same ward as my brother when the latter had a serious accident in 2002. I've always been kind of haunted by the image of this young man waking up in hospital with no sight or hearing and no idea where he was and just screaming constantly. So I'm pleased to learn that things have worked out well for him, sometimes you just by chance get to the find out the epilogue of someone's story.

  • On a completely different topic, I really appreciated [ profile] papersky's musings on mortality: Everything alive and dead to weep as one. It's not exactly fiction, but it's a lovely piece of prose, and to make it vaguely relevant to the Wednesday theme, the post and discussion contain various recs for historical biographies and collected correspondence available on Gutenberg and elsewhere.

    Currently reading: Still in the early part of Imajica.

    Also still following [personal profile] rmc28's Watership Down readthrough, which I forgot to mention last week. I was away at the weekend and I don't have a copy of the book here, so I'm a little bit behind. But there's some really fun discussion developing, and the book is holding up well not only as an adult reader but as something to savour and delve into in detail, we're doing one chapter a week and each chapter is only a couple of pages.

    Up next: I still don't really have a specific plan. I've been chatting to [personal profile] cjwatson about some of the classic science fiction we both read, and thinking about new stuff to recommend eachother. Asimov, and how he's often better at shorter length due to having a lot more skill in exploring interesting ideas than in conventional novel techniques like plotting and characterization. Other people who do very ideas-heavy hard SF: Greg Egan, of course, and I have a ghost of a thought about Ted Chiang which I didn't quite get round to talking about.

    I'm realizing there are quite a few books I really liked 5–10 years ago which I now can't quite remember well enough to recommend without rereading. And I generally don't reread very much because I'm always seeking out new stuff, but books that have stuck in my mind enough that I'm excited to share them but where I no longer remember the details seem good candidates. So possibly Geoff Ryman's The Child Garden, possibly Emma Bull's War for the oaks. (Gosh, I'm glad that I used to keep up with reviewing better than I do now, I should really get back into that habit!) Or else I should make at least a note of the examples that came up in conversation that I'm not familiar with: Stephen Baxter's Xeelee stories; Poul Anderson's Tau Zero.

    Also I haven't posted to DW since last Wednesday, which does suggest that the Wednesday reading meme is good for me. I do have quite a few posts I want to make, but sometimes having an imposed structure helps with getting started.
  • liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    I said when I was looking ahead to 2015 I might try a new way of talking about books here, so I'm going to have a go at reading Wednesday, which seems a really nice tradition anyway.

    read more )
    liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
    So I was chatting to my brother Screwy over Christmas, and he asserted that making ethical consumer choices is just a way to express your values, it doesn't really help to bring about change. Now, Screwy is a philosopher and fond of making provocatively sweeping statements, and he's also way to the left of me politically. But when we were chewing over this one, I realized I couldn't entirely refute it. So I'm bringing it to DW, to see what my thinky interesting readers think.

    of course, I can never just make a statement without babbling about it )

    Well, last time I talked about the philosophy behind my politics it went reasonably well, so let's see if this sets off some equally good discussion, even if I am not quite aligned with many of my readers in some ways.
    ETA: My brother turned up to explain what he meant a bit more clearly than my summary: his clarification
    liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
    I hate leaving negative things at the top of my journal, but I'm a bit busy and haven't quite got time to post about happier topics. Thinking through what was at the root of my emotional state, and then getting lots of wonderful supportive comments, thank you all, has made me feel a lot better.

    A few weeks ago, some people were posting a meme to the effect of, when you see this, post something on your DW. Which is a really nice idea, actually, because it's a totally low-pressure way to up the activity levels here, and that's a self-reinforcing system because the more active your local network is, the more fun it is to be on DW and the more you want to post yourself. And it gets over the barrier of: I haven't posted for ages, where do I start, or: I can't post here unless I have something important to say or something polished and well-written. But I found myself a little resentful because I'd just done the December daily posting meme, so I didn't see why I should have to be subject to a lot of complaints about how nobody ever posts here any more.

    Anyway, in a similar spirit, I want to try reviving one of the first games I ever played on LJ, almost exactly ten years ago.

    I'm going to list three things in order of how much I like them. If you see this, and if you feel like playing, repost the list in your own journal. You can change the order if you disagree with my judgement of how likeable the things are. The rule is that you need to add one new thing that's better than anything in the parent list, and one new thing that's worse than anything on the parent list, and one new thing somewhere in the middle (doesn't have to be the exact centre). Include a link back to where you got the meme from. And then we can follow the list around various journals, seeing how it mutates. I am still friends with some of the people I met playing this a decade ago; let's see how it works now.

  • Nessie Ladle
  • Twitter
  • gender essentialism
  • liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
    I have to admit that some of what's behind my generally low / anxious mood lately is the news. I normally don't react very emotionally to hearing about things like terrorist attacks. It's a tragedy, I feel sad for the bereaved, but it doesn't feel personal, and it doesn't affect me much more than knowing that people are dying in wars and road accidents every day and not making news headlines. But the events in Paris this month have really got to me, not so much the attacks themselves as the reactions to it.

    antisemitism, islamophobia, freeze peach )

    This is the kind of thing it's probably more foolish to put on the internet than talking openly about my sexuality. But never mind, I generally trust my readership to respond sensitively when I'm talking about really hard stuff.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    I feel like I'm turning into a terrible old fogey when it comes to music. I mean, not that I was ever at the cutting edge of fashion, but I used to at least recognize some current stuff. long-winded description of my problem )

    Recommendations of actual music always welcome, of course. I really appreciate people who do share music on their journals, like [personal profile] oursin and [personal profile] seekingferret and [personal profile] ceb. But what I'm really looking for is recommendations of how to music in 2015. How to discover new music, how to do music in a modern social media context, recommendations of places to go to look for recommendations. And how to buy music once I've discovered it. Any suggestions appreciated!


    Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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