Sep. 20th, 2017 10:52 pm
tielan: (Merlin - merlin)
[personal profile] tielan
So my Genex recip is entirely a non-commenter. That makes it better, at least.
[syndicated profile] strangehorizons_all_feed

Posted by Octavia Cade

I’ve been a horror film fan for decades now, happily watching every sort of horror I can get my hands on, and if you watch enough of it you begin to see the same motifs come up again and again. (Never trust a horror film child. Never turn your back on anything unless you’re absolutely sure it’s dead.) But one doesn’t have to be a dedicated fan to note just how very bloody often—and I use the word “bloody” deliberately, both as emphasis and descriptor—women in horror are in horror solely because of their reproductive systems. Harrington describes this particular subgenre as gynaehorror: “horror that deals with all aspects of female reproductive horror, from the reproductive and sexual organs, to virginity and first sex, through to pregnancy, birth and motherhood, and finally to menopause and post-menopause” (p. 3).

Given this definition, there are clearly limits to the scope of Women, Monstrosity and Horror Film: Gynaehorror, and Harrington makes these clear in her introduction. Her interpretation of gynaehorror is based around the “normative cisgendered female reproductive lifecycle” (p. 11), and there is little exploration of the experiences of trans women, for example. Diversity of source material is also limited mostly to Anglophone films and their particular intersections of female reproduction and demography. Harrington points out, for example, that most of the women featured in these films are white and middle-class, and this naturally affects how their experiences are portrayed and understood. Economic status, education levels, access to health care … these are factors that can materially influence how a female character navigates her own sexual experience and reproductive system in what is frequently a hostile environment.

Horror films, Harrington notes, are not always known for their positive representation of women. With notable exceptions, the feminine experience of victimhood—especially sexual victimhood, since women displaying overtly sexual behaviour in horror films have lengthier and more violently explicit deaths than similar male characters—is frequently prioritised in horror films. This is arguably derived from the historical tendency of the female body being seen as both lesser and other, something to be exploited for entertainment and shock value. Sometimes this misogynistic presentation is less than subtle, as in the film Contracted (2013), where “a woman is infected with a sexually transmitted virus that renders her dying from the inside out; at various points she bleeds profusely from her vagina and, in one particularly abject scene, maggots fall from her vagina” (p. 61). Sometimes it’s more so, such as in those slasher films where the Final Girl survives and it’s strongly implied—explicitly so, in the reactionary impulse of Scream (1996) for instance—that her survival is linked with her virginity. Harrington points out that despite the triumphant image of the single survivor it’s that tedious trope, Not Like Other Girls, that’s ultimately the reason for her survival.

I suggest, then, that it is this compulsive return to the figure of the “special” girl that is something insidiously problematic. The deaths of transgressive, active, often implicitly “unlikeable” women who assert their agency in threatening ways, in a genre that is often accused of loving to punish women, is not something to celebrate. (p. 45)

But horror itself can also be transgressive, and the ability of women in horror to flip the script, to undermine expected exploitation and maintain positive agency is also possible. The character Dawn, who in Teeth (2007) is in possession of a vagina dentata which bites off the penises of everyone who sexually assaults her, gains agency in two areas. First the obvious, in that she’s able to mutilate and kill those who look to hurt or exploit her; but the second and arguably more important (if less gory) advantage is that possession of this monstrous organ encourages her to actually learn about it. For Dawn, previous stalwart of the school chastity club, is discomforted enough by her own body to be almost entirely ignorant of it—a state which is sanctioned by a society that privileges abstinence and lack of sex education over adequate knowledge. Dawn, Harrington points out,

is doubly victimised—once by the men who assault her, but also by the movement that professed to have her best interests at heart … However, the film emphasises that it is not sex itself that is dangerous, but abusive sexual practices, sexual ignorance and misogynistic discourses of sexuality. (pp. 69-70)

The tension between misogynistic exploitation and transgression is particularly apt given current political debates over reproductive rights. Much of this is because the female reproductive system is so often seen as not suitable for polite conversation—it’s crass to talk about it. Indelicate.

… more often than not, the vagina is portrayed as inferior: as lesser than the penis; as a passive receptacle for the penis; as sexually inadequate, vulnerable and abused; as smelly, dangerous to both men and infants, and ultimately disgusting … Such negative and normalised portrayals of the vagina—indeed, of the female reproductive and sexual body as a whole—are recognised and ratified in the horror film, which offers very little in the way of positive or affirmative representation. Instead, the horror genre looks to the vagina as a place of disgust: it is a fleshy and conceptual site of monsters, of dread and of dangerously unbridled sexuality that marries terror with obscenity. (pp. 56-57)

Such an unpleasant subject … which makes it ripe to be the subject of shock-value horror, which can wallow in the unspeakable while other genres paddle about the edges or ignore the subject altogether. I was unaware, for instance, that until the late 1950s representations of pregnancy and (especially) birth were effectively banned from Hollywood cinema. They are unexceptionable today—and the determination not to go there has shifted from birth to abortion. For all the stories about evil children in horror (and they are legion) there’s much less emphasis, even in horror, on getting rid of that little problem before it arises. Honestly, the section on abortion in Women, Monstrosity and Horror Films is worth the price of admission alone. I’m not sure how I’ve managed to escape the entertainingly terrible pro-life propaganda of films such as The Life Zone (2011), which shows women wishing for abortions reliving their experiences in (literal) hell until they figure out how terrible they are for wanting control over their own bodies, but I certainly feel inclined to go looking for it now, if only to point and laugh.

I was particularly interested to note Harrington’s reference to the Alien franchise entry Prometheus (2012), which apparently was given an R-rating largely because the main character was shown giving herself an abortion of the alien rape baby she was carrying. This has shades of the birth-refusal of that earlier era of cinema, and of the consistent punishment, conceptual and actual, of women who have abortions—even in horror films. But I can’t help recall a recent Strange Horizons review of mine, of a young adult novel entitled The Fallen Children, in which one of the teen protagonists, herself forcibly impregnated by aliens, also effectively gives herself a DIY abortion. That a mainstream film for adults is so much more constrained than a novel targeted at teens is notable in itself. From my own perspective, gynaehorror is far more evident in forced pregnancy than it is in voluntary abortion, but clearly—even in horror—this is not a universal feeling. The monstrous child may be monstrous, but women are still expected to feel maternal if saddled with one, and this is an element of gynaehorror that is less well questioned in the genre than it might be.

It is in Harrington’s exploration of the maternal in horror that we begin to understand why abortion is so underserved. Her interpretation of horrific motherhood as a specific and continual negotiation is, I think, an acute one: “I suggest that horror films can be considered not as static representations of motherhood, but as culturally and historically specific, dynamic negotiations with the expectations and pressures surrounding the fulfilment of normative motherhood” (p. 181). Motherhood is indeed ringed round with expectations, with idealism and guilt, and the pressure to be a good mother is unrelenting. Social changes such as the growing combination of motherhood and career, and the increasing number of single parents, impact on this expectation. It’s impossible to be as good a mother as is expected, and the pressure to achieve the ideal—and the blame when motherhood or children turn monstrous—is enormous. The mother who kills herself so her ghost can take care of her own dead (and also ghostly) son in The Orphanage (2007), the mother who lets her ghoulish, flesh-eating baby literally devour her breast in Grace (2009) … the self-sacrifice expected of mothers has become so all-encompassing, the obsession with nurturing so determined, that it’s no wonder horror mothers boomerang between doormat and the far-too-involved Norma Bates. “The message to mothers in horror film is clear: you must do better, but you can never do enough” (p. 215). This constant negotiation, the need to reconcile the real and the ideal, is a debate entirely cut off by the act of abortion. No wonder it’s not more prominent within the genre—it cuts off the horror to come.

In all the discussion of this horror, it’s important to recall that Women, Monstrosity and Horror Film is an academic text. There’s a difficulty in reviewing such texts for the lay reader—potential audiences are so different that the writing itself can (unintentionally) exclude. Reviewing as a lay reader, this came across very much as a text of two halves.

If “academic writing” can be said to be a genre of its own, the need to justify and explain and reference every statement must be the defining characteristic thereof. Depending on the reader, this can be variously comforting or frustrating. For the most part, I found the way Harrington wove in theoretical ideas to be immensely interesting when she was talking about horror films: her frequent use of example is a finely judged leavening agent. There were often chunks of theory and background, however, that were far less digestible, especially as the focus in these areas became extremely broad, moving away from gynaehorror (or any horror) to wider contexts. There’s such a pronounced difference, as a reader, between the chunks of theory and background that are interwoven with example and the chunks that aren’t, that I found myself wishing this background absent, or at least tucked away as appendices at the back of the book. It’s not that it’s not interesting (it is, if only mildly); it’s that it seems so frequently unnecessary.

I’m not at all sure, for example, that one needs to wade through eight densely argued pages on the history of virginity as a concept to understand that (a) there is a cultural history of treating female virginity differently from male virginity, (b) cultural emphasis on the value of female virginity is frequently used to control women’s sexuality, and (c) this is often expressed in horror films. Those three sentences, appropriately backed-up of course (this is academia!), are really all that’s needed before we get to the fascinating meat of the chapter focusing on virginity and first sex in horror. The academic need to include background material inevitably has an effect on readability for lay readers, with these sections appearing to have markedly more jargon and markedly less horror.

There is one place where all this background really shines, however—and it has to, for if abortion rarely comes up in gynaehorror then menopause is even rarer. In contrast to horror films that deal with the onset of menstruation, such as Carrie (1976) and Ginger Snaps (2000), representation of menopause is practically nonexistent. Harrington points out, and accurately so, that given the wide range of horror films available this omission is itself worthy of study. As it is, criticism has to work around the gaping hole where the subject should be. Harrington does her best to use ageing women in horror as a proxy for menopause-based horror, and this results in a genuinely interesting chapter that explores what she calls hagsploitation, discussing the ways in which older women are exploited by horror and in turn can make horror into a “richly complicated site of contestation and resistance” (p. 254).

Less gripping in its contextualisation is the chapter “Not of woman born: Mad science, reproductive technology and the reconfiguration of the subject,” which, in fairness, does manage to circle back round to Harrington’s own definition of gynaehorror a couple of times. The perception of the mad scientist as a masculine figure, on science itself as a masculine subject, and the tension in the discipline between masculine and feminine is certainly interesting, but the seeming conflation of “feminine” with “gynaehorror” at this point (a conflation which seems specific to this chapter) does, I think, allow the text to wander, again, from the point—and from the gender. Victor Frankenstein might be a perfect example of man creating life and not needing women to do it, but this isn’t the book I want to read about that in. It seems a bit of a stretch to include it in a book about gynaehorror, and this stretch does pop up occasionally in other parts of the text.

I find the assertion that the shark mouth in Jaws (1975) can be read as an allusion to “the toothed, dangerous vagina” (p. 61), for instance, to be deeply unconvincing. There are illuminating metaphors and then there are vagina-coloured glasses. For the most part, however, when Harrington shifts her attention to metaphorical gynaehorror she's far more focused. There’s an excellent section on the eco-horror Prophecy (1979), for example, in which the main character’s pregnancy is used to illuminate an environment polluted to mutant toxicity. Maggie’s pregnancy in that film—itself in jeopardy of mutation after she’s exposed to the same poisons that have destroyed the surrounding ecosystem—is an encapsulation in miniature of the central horrifying problem of the text.

As a reviewer, I’m not sure I can accurately place Women, Monstrosity and Horror Film in an academic context. For lay readers, however, it’s a fascinating and feminist look at gynaehorror, and one that’s highly recommended. If the text sometimes has slightly too wide a focus, well, readers can I think skim or even skip the jargon-heavy theory and background sections. They won’t miss much of the thought-provoking and the scary by doing so, as the majority of the text—the parts that are focused on horror films themselves—are both clear and clever, and well worth reading.

More on the iOS 11 update

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:26 am
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
I learned last night that apparently my iPad can take the update, so apparently it is an iPad Mini 2. So that's cool. And I may go ahead and risk upgrading my phone. I'm pushing my departure back to Thursday from Wednesday: I didn't get everything done that I needed to do, including reviewing five long boxes of comics in case there's anything that I want to keep (possible but not very likely), and the difficulty of loading my car since I recovered four banker boxes of comics from my storage unit yesterday afternoon. I'm not sure if it's all of my comics, I know there's three or more long boxes at my parent's that I'll deal with when I get there, but that'll be a vast bulk of them and a lot of space recovered.

On top of that, only 3 hours of sleep last night. AND one of the nose pads fell out of my reading glasses. Found the nose pad, fortunately I have a spare screw from a previous broken set of reading glasses.

I forgot to mention a new feature of iOS 11 that should be interesting: you have a Do Not Disturb mode for driving: anyone texting you receives an autoreply saying that you're driving and will get back to them later. I like that. Definitely appealing when you're about to set out on a 500 mile drive. I'm doing a different outbound route that a friend says is much more picturesque, so we'll see. It's also rather cellular dead, which causes me a slight amount of apprehension. Just need to fuel up and hit the restroom before hitting that 200 mile stretch.
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[personal profile] the_shoshanna
The day after the typhoon was calm and blue and beautiful. And then we did a whole lot of stuff! )And collapsing is our plan now!

What the NSA Collects via 702

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:12 am
[syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed

Posted by Bruce Schneier

New York Times reporter Charlie Savage writes about some bad statistics we're all using:

Among surveillance legal policy specialists, it is common to cite a set of statistics from an October 2011 opinion by Judge John Bates, then of the FISA Court, about the volume of internet communications the National Security Agency was collecting under the FISA Amendments Act ("Section 702") warrantless surveillance program. In his opinion, declassified in August 2013, Judge Bates wrote that the NSA was collecting more than 250 million internet communications a year, of which 91 percent came from its Prism system (which collects stored e-mails from providers like Gmail) and 9 percent came from its upstream system (which collects transmitted messages from network operators like AT&T).

These numbers are wrong. This blog post will address, first, the widespread nature of this misunderstanding; second, how I came to FOIA certain documents trying to figure out whether the numbers really added up; third, what those documents show; and fourth, what I further learned in talking to an intelligence official. This is far too dense and weedy for a New York Times article, but should hopefully be of some interest to specialists.

Worth reading for the details.

What the NSA Collects via 702

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:12 am
[syndicated profile] schneiersecurity_feed

Posted by Bruce Schneier

New York Times reporter Charlie Savage writes about some bad statistics we're all using:

Among surveillance legal policy specialists, it is common to cite a set of statistics from an October 2011 opinion by Judge John Bates, then of the FISA Court, about the volume of internet communications the National Security Agency was collecting under the FISA Amendments Act ("Section 702") warrantless surveillance program. In his opinion, declassified in August 2013, Judge Bates wrote that the NSA was collecting more than 250 million internet communications a year, of which 91 percent came from its Prism system (which collects stored e-mails from providers like Gmail) and 9 percent came from its upstream system (which collects transmitted messages from network operators like AT&T).

These numbers are wrong. This blog post will address, first, the widespread nature of this misunderstanding; second, how I came to FOIA certain documents trying to figure out whether the numbers really added up; third, what those documents show; and fourth, what I further learned in talking to an intelligence official. This is far too dense and weedy for a New York Times article, but should hopefully be of some interest to specialists.

Worth reading for the details.

Adaptions and remixes

Sep. 20th, 2017 12:07 pm
selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
[personal profile] selenak
Two filmed novels in, the tv version of JKR's written-as-Robert-Galbraith mystery novels called Strike comes across as very enjoyable. Holiday Grainger is a delight as Robin, Tom Burke still isn't how I imagined Cormoran Strike, but he's entertaining to watch, and they have good chemistry. Inevitably, characters and subplots were for the axe in both Cuckoo's Call and The Silkworm, but so far they've kept the important emotional beats. In the case of The Silkworm, I'm especially glad my favourite sentence of the entire novel gets to be used in dialogue, though a different character gets to say it on tv: Writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels."

Of the guest stars, the actresses playing Leonora and Orlando were especially good. I do notice that some of the sharpness of the novels is lost when it comes to politics. I mean, The Silkworm, the novel, has passages like this: : Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, was announcing plans to slash 350 million pounds from the legal aid budget. Strike watched through his haze of tiredness as the florid, paunchy man told Parliament that he wished to 'discourage people from restoring to lawyers whenever they face a problem, and instead encourage them to consider more suitable methods of dispute resolution.' He meant, of course, that poor people ought to relinquish the services of the law. Nothing like it on tv. But the result still doesn't feel as awfully castrated as the tv version of The Casual Vacancy, which lost all the bite and anger and ruined what might not have been a masterpiece but was a novel with genuine points to raise by turning it into inoffensive blandness, more angry reviews here, possibly because such asides aren't the main issue in the Galbraith novels.

In other news, [community profile] missy_fest has been revealing one Missy story per day-ish. This was the smallest ficathon I ever participated in, but a delight to write and read, and as soon as it's de-anonymized, I'm going to link and talk about the story I wrote. Meanwhile, check out the one I received, which was The Master's Faithful Companion (Forever or Just A Day Remix), which remixed my story Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

The Blood is the Life for 20-09-2017

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:00 am
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[personal profile] miss_s_b

Hard Things

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:50 am
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Life is full of things which are hard or tedious or otherwise unpleasant that need doing anyhow. They help make the world go 'round, they improve skills, and they boost your sense of self-respect. But doing them still kinda sucks. It's all the more difficult to do those things when nobody appreciates it. Happily, blogging allows us to share our accomplishments and pat each other on the back.

What are some of the hard things you've done recently? What are some hard things you haven't gotten to yet, but need to do?
naraht: (Default)
[personal profile] naraht
nothing gold can stay (2628 words) by Naraht
Chapters: 1/?
Fandom: Yuri!!! on Ice (Anime)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Yuri Plisetsky & Victor Nikiforov, Yuri Plisetsky & Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya/Yakov Feltsman
Characters: Yuri Plisetsky, Victor Nikiforov, Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya
Additional Tags: Rivals, Post-Canon, Growing Up, Coming of Age, growth spurt, Injury, 2018 Winter Olympics, Aging
Summary: Yuri Plisetsky will never step out of Victor's shadow. Not if Victor has anything to do with it.

Or, the epic Nikiforov/Plisetsky rivalry in the run-up to the 2018 Games.

Here it is, the long one. The first chapter of the long one, at least.

A friend tells me that 'rage-filled teenage boy athlete' is not my usual aesthetic – probably an understatement! But it's a refreshing change in writing terms, and it's good to stretch yourself... right?

US politics

Sep. 20th, 2017 09:33 am
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
[personal profile] cesy
Hope not Hate is coming to the US, to counter the rise of international hate groups. American friends, you can sign up here.

12 Characters Meme -- answers

Sep. 19th, 2017 10:13 pm
justice_turtle: MacGyver reading with finger to lips, text "im in ur library shushin ur books" (shushin)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
First of all, the character list, on which I have broken one of my own rules and put two people from the same fandom:

1. Wes Janson (Star Wars: Rogue Squadron etc)
2. Methos (Highlander)
3. Storm (X-Men comics)
4. Steve Rogers (MCU)
5. Ethan Rayne (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
6. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (Star Trek)
7. James Cowan (one of my OCs, because why the fuck not)
8. Constable Odo (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
9. Teal'c (Stargate SG-1)
10. Evelyn Carnahan-O'Connell (The Mummy movies)
11. Ardeth Bay (The Mummy/The Mummy Returns)
12. Todd the Wraith (Stargate Atlantis)

Read more... )
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
Maybe that was midnight Cupertino time, I don't know. Regardless, both of our iPads are too old, as is my wife's iPhone 4S. That leaves my iPhone 6 as the only device that can run it, and since I'm about to head for Phoenix and I won't have my iMac with me for a system restore should something glitch, I think I'll hold off a bit. For that matter, the new MacOS is supposed to drop in a couple of days, and I won't be upgrading to that until I get back from Phoenix, so I'll probably just do a device upgrade frenzy when I get back.

Some of the features in iOS 11 are pretty cool. I like the 'press the power key 5 times to disable the fingerprint reader', definitely cool. It doesn't materially affect me as I don't use the fingerprint reader to unlock my phone, but that's OK. And they've apparently made the reverse video mode more intelligent for not reversing images, which is good. I really wish they had an override for web pages and such so you could force white letters on black background, for example. That's what I love about Ars Technica and hate about most others, I find white on black to be much easier on my eyes.

But I DO NOT like updating my phone apps over WiFi (as I wrote about last week), I thought loading apps through iTunes was easy and one-stop syncing. They've just increased the hassle and it's likely to increase the time between me doing updates from daily to weekly or monthly or whenever. Which increases potential security vulnerabilities, which ticks me off. iTunes should be a framework that supports plug-ins, then all they'd have to do is write a plug-in that reads the app store for just iPhone/iPad/Watch apps, and re-casts them in to the iTunes framework. It's still just one app store, it just looks like two.


GET OFF MY LAWN! Kids these days.

(In a totally unrelated incident, I got "Sir'd" last week! I was sitting in a barber shop waiting for my guy to finish with his current client, and the other guys started talking about horror movies. I'm not a big horror movie fan, so I didn't participate until later. Now, this barber shop is an actual barber shop, not a hair salon, run by 30-somethings with tattoos up to their necks and possibly beyond, smoking their e-cigs and playing that reissued Nintendo Classic that came out last year when they're slow. I don't really care. So what if they're young. I piped up about some movie, I don't remember what, throwing in my $0.002 worth, and this one barber later comes over and apologizes, saying that he didn't know that he had an older gentleman in the shop and they wouldn't have been talking like that if they'd known! Yes, dude, I'm 55, and some day you'll be there, too, if you're lucky. Maybe I'm moving towards the far side of middle-age, but trust me, though I am growing older I definitely have not remotely grown up. In my headspace I'm still a 30-something, though my body constantly reminds me that I am not. I laughed at him, reassured him that I was not offended, then told them a pretty grizzly story about a quietly spectacular suicide that happened while I was working for the police department. The crime lab was in the basement as was computer services, and the car that this guy offed himself in was so pungent that finally I told my boss that I'm taking off for the day. The fire department later used that car as burn practice.

I'll go in to no further details, unless people want it, in which case I'll put it in a new post under a cut.)

Not The Leader's Speech - UPDATED

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:04 am
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Many Lib Dems really love The Leader's Speech. It's the traditional end to conference, and sitting in a hall full of likeminded people while the leader's platitudes wash over you is some people's idea of fun. Equally, many of us dislike it intensely. The social pressure to clap in the right places* is intense, and as a liberal who decries conformity it makes my skin crawl. Also, if the leader says something you don't like and you then walk out, it creates negative publicity.

So there are several sets of lib dems who avoid going to The Leader's Speech. Many just go get on the train before the big rush. I know of one group who have a rather sweet tradition of going to get ice cream while the Leader speaks. The Awkward Squad goes to the pub.

It started when Cleggy was Our Glorious Leader. You may recall that I had one or two policy differences with Cleggy**. One conf, and I can't remember which one, I attended the leader's speech, like a good lib dem, and walked out about half way through utterly furious with something or other he had said, thinking "sod this, I'm off to the pub". When I got there I discovered a dear friend was already there. He explained that as he knew Cleggy was bound to say something really annoying, what he did was go to the pub, download the text of the speech, and work out which point he would have walked out anyway. I thought this was an excellent idea, and have been doing it ever since***, and the group of likeminded curmudgeons doing the same has gradually grown over the years.

Fast forward to yesterday.

There's a bunch of us in the pub. One or two would have walked out at the "single market is ok" bits of the speech. I'd have made it past that, but only a couple of paragraphs, the bit about having achieved equal marriage would have been my breaking point****. Anyway, we were all happily chatting away and discussing things and it was all good.

... The problem was when Vince turned up. Yep, that's right, The Leader turned up to Not The Leader's Speech. Apparently it was some photo call to do with a motion we'd passed earlier in the conference.

I wouldn't have minded, but he didn't even get a round in. Bloody Yorkshirefolk, they're all the same*****.

So, I am now carefully researching pubs in Southport for Spring Conference to find one that's 1, good and 2, less likely to be crashed by the sodding leader. It doesn't half put a crimp in avoiding the leader when he turns up all smiles and handshakes.

ETA: Caron has posted about this on lib dem voice now. Countdown to po-faced condemnation in five... four... three...

*and even to stand and ovate. People who don;t stand and ovate in the "right" places often get glared at, or even tutted at.
**although as a human being I find him perfectly personable and likeable.
***Except for Tim Farron's first speech. Tim knows/knew all about Not The Leader's Speech, and made me promise him that I would go to his first one. I warned him that this would mean actually walking out if he said something walkout-worthy... Thankfully he didn't. But none-the-less I didn't go to any of his others. I'm just not a keynote speech type person.
****See here for the big rant about that one. There was a big chorus of groans about this in the pub - "Oh FFS we have to train ANOTHER leader and his staff not to do this..."
*****I am allowed to say this being Yorkshire myself

(no subject)

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:45 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthdsy, [personal profile] sharpiefan!
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Of course Sandy had heard of the certain club. There had been that matter of the comedic actor Elias Winch, Miss Richardson’s uncle, whose perilous proceedings at public places of resort had entirely ceased once he had joined. And when it seemed that Sir Hartley Zellen, a very useful man in the Commons, might join their reforming set, it had been ascertained that he was entire discreet in indulging the urges of his disposition as a member of that club.

But it had been Clorinda who had acquired intelligence of the place. There had been no approaches during the years with Gervase.

So while he returned a civil reply to Sir Hartley’s discreet overture, he was not sure what he might do about the matter.

Is it not, he asked Clorinda, a bordello?

Why, I apprehend that there are arrangements whereby fellows may gratify their urges, but 'tis also, I confide, a place where fellows of the disposition may gather and feel they may breathe a little more freely than they may do in general society. And I daresay there is some matter of being able to assist does one of their number encounter difficulties, for there are fellows that command considerable interest among 'em. And perchance there are fellows that are not in the happy situation that you had and may not live together openly, but find it a place where they need not disguise their affections.

Indeed we were most uncommon fortunate, he said in sombre tones. But, dearest sibyl, is it foolish and sentimental in me to ask, what would Gervase say?

Clorinda smiled at him. Not in the least, dear Sandy. But I think he would wish that you did not become an entire recluse, went about in Society; and I think he would consider that your presence would be of entire benefit to the club, that must indeed be a thought of theirs as well. You are known a clever and well-thought-of fellow such I am sure they would greatly desire among their number.

Would that I had a fan about me that I might smack you with it as an arrant flatterer!

But is it not entirely so? You are still greatly valued among our political set for the acuity of your judgements, indeed there have been mutterings from Sir Barton and Lords Abertylld and Vinwich that sure you should stand for Parliament yourself.

Sandy shuddered. I think I prefer to be an eminence gris.

Or eminence rouge! Sure that better suits you, I confide. She sighed. Whereas do you not think that Susannah Wallace would show extreme well as an MP?

Without a doubt, but that in the present state of society, I fear men would not listen to her, however sound her arguments.

They both sighed.

He felt curiously agitated about the prospect of attending: there was some matter of an initiation to be undergone, and then, a deal of fellows, no doubt, that, apart from Sir Hartley, he did not know.

Do you think I am dressed entirely suitable? he asked Clorinda.

She glanced up at him. Sure, she said in a distracted fashion, these working-parties to make clothes for the orphans might answer, if only the ladies that express themselves with great enthusiasm at the prospect would ever come to 'em and work. What, my dear? Oh, indeed, you look an entire well-dressed philosopher, and I would suppose they do not expect a gentleman of fashion.

Clorinda! Please to look at me properly and tell me is anything out of order.

La, o bello scozzese, you are in a taking over this business, my dear. They have already passed you for membership –

There is some ceremony -

Swearing tremendous oaths I daresay. Mayhap somewhat like unto the Freemasons, not that I know aught about 'em. Is not The Magic Flute give out to be about masons?

You seem in somewhat of a taking yourself, o silly creature, you seem considerable distracted.

Clorinda sighed and shook her head. I think Sir Vernon is going propose to me again. Sure I should not have supposed that an occasional agreeable romp was merely all he desired.

Sandy snorted. Why, I suppose he has been about a very diplomatic wooing, to lure you into concessions step by step –

Alas, I think you have the right of it. But, my dear, you look entire well. I have told Nick to bring the carriage round for you, and then bring it back to convey me to Sir Vernon’s dinner party.

So he went off in fine style to the extremely discreet doorway where one scrutinized him through the peephole before admitting him, and he was conducted at once to a small room where he was met by and introduced to Sir Stockwell Channery, Lord Saythingport, Terence Offerton, and Mr Chumbell. They read him over the conditions of membership and the horrid warnings as to the fate of any that breached discretion, but there was no ritual to the matter and while he was required to take an oath, no-one made him swear upon a Bible.

They then all heartily wrung his hand and desired him to enjoy the amenities of the establishment.

Chumbell, that was positively bouncing up and down, put his arm through Sandy’s and said, perchance they might go take a little sherry and discourse of classics?

Oh, come, Chumbell, said Offerton, taking Sandy’s other arm, there will be time enough for that, let the fellow find his feet a little first. Though he then went on to remark on the very fine billiard-table provided for members.

Indeed it was an excellent fine club – splendid comfortable public rooms, attentive footmen, a well-provided supper-table – and more familiar faces than he had anticipated. Tom Tressillian the actor; Colonel Adams, that had given such a fine lecture to the antiquarians on certain Hindu antiquities of Bengal; Sir Hartley, of course –

Is that music? he asked.

Why, must be Herr Hahn favours us upon his flute, cried Offerton.

Well: Franz Hahn; 'twas no surprise when he came to think of it.

And, in the room where Hahn was playing, standing under a painting of a faun, that was probably a Linsleigh, and undoubtedly one for which he had modelled, Maurice Allard, looking at him with a little lift of his chin and an air of having as much right as anyone to be there: surely the case. He was dressed entirely sober, but one did not spend two decades and more in the company of such a noted arbiter of style as Gervase, that had achieved the approbation of Brummell himself, without garnering some apprehension of what fine tailoring looked like. And how it might set off a fellow’s looks…

Franz Hahn put down his flute with great care, came up and shook Sandy by the hand, murmured that he heard Lady Bexbury was likely to resume her soirées? and gave a civil response to Sandy’s enquiries after his family. Did he know everybody? Perchance he had not met Allard?

Naturally, said Sandy, as Franz Hahn made the introduction, Lady Bexbury has spoken of him, declares she would be an entire dowd without him.

'Tis ever a pleasure, said Maurice, to have the dressing of Lady Bexbury.

At which moment came up Colonel Adams, with recollections of the very interesting questions Mr MacDonald had raised at his lecture, and wondering if he would some time care to come look at his little private collection of Hindu antiquities?

Sandy made some civil reply and was very glad of the glass of wine he found in his hand. He looked about the room and said, I confide that painting is a Linsleigh?

The most of the paintings are, said Offerton. He added, with a wink, there are some particular fine ones on the upper floor – is Basil here the e’en?

Maurice shrugged. Have not seen him.

Offerton went on, you may go look at 'em – of course, do not enter any chamber that has the door closed, but is the door open you may look in.

Mayhap later, said Sandy, a little overwhelmed at the warmth of his reception – the icy gaze in those black eyes was quite salutory refreshing by comparison.

After supper, feeling in need of a few moment’s solitude, he said that he would go look at the paintings, no need to accompany him.

Some few of the doors were already closed, but there were paintings along the corridor, and he peeped inside the first open door he came to. The chamber was empty, though well-furnished, and he examined the painting, rather glad that he was alone, for he could still, he found, be brought to the blush.

There was a faint noise: he looked up, and saw Maurice Allard, in the act of closing the door.

He was about to say that he supposed that they could both maintain a reasonable cool civility to one another in public – for it looked as though that was the concern that Allard wished to disclose – and their eyes met, their gazes locked. And – oh, they had not exorcized that carnal urging, that furor, after all.

Some while later – sure these chambers were very well provided for their purpose – Maurice looked up and said, that was not what I intended.

I did not think it was. Will it be noted?

I am like to doubt it, providing we do not go downstairs together.

Well, I shall go down first, and say how very taken I was by the paintings, is that really the time, sure one might have supposed oneself frolicking with Dionysus in Ancient Greece – and then I shall go ask Chumbell about whether he considers them an accurate portrayal –

Do you do this sort of thing very often?

Seldom, said Sandy, but have long had the acquaintance of an entire mistress of the art of making people see what she wants them to see.

Maurice scowled at him. It was - endearing. Sandy kissed him and began to dress.

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