edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
([personal profile] edenfalling Aug. 30th, 2016 11:21 pm)
1. One job application. I don't really care about this one, but I have to do three job-search activities per week for my unemployment insurance, even if I have no real intention of following up on them. And, you know, if this company happens to take me up on my offer, it wouldn't be the end of the world or anything. *shrug*

2. Edited somebody else's NFE fic. It is a good fic; I think y'all are going to enjoy it. :)

3. Finished reading and commenting on every work in the Ladystuck Remix main collection and treats collection. Go me! (Once again, I advise anyone with an interest in female-character-centric Homestuck fics and art to go check those out. Look through the prior collections as well while you're there!)

4. Tweaked my Tumblr theme so reblogs no longer automatically display in all-italics. That had been bugging me for years and tonight I was finally fed up enough to fix it.

5. Cooked a batch of rice -- by which I mean two cups' worth -- most of which will go into my freezer for storage.

6. Started a batch of pot roast, which will cook overnight and should finish up around 8 or 9am.

7. Responded to and cleared out all comments-needing-replies from my various inboxes, because today I had the spoons for that kind of social interaction. :)
([syndicated profile] historian_movies_feed Aug. 31st, 2016 12:45 am)

Posted by aelarsen

The new Ben-Hur (2016, dir. Timur Bekmambetov) is constantly talked about as a remake of the 1959 version starring Charleton Heston as the title character. But that’s not really true. The reality is that Ben-Hur is a complex enough body of material that it’s almost its own minor genre.


The origins of the film lie more than a century ago, in 1880 when Lew Wallace published his novel Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It’s a sprawling novel of more than 500 page that interweaves the lives of Judah Ben-Hur and Jesus’.Iin fact Judah only makes his first appearance in Part 2 (out of 8); Part 1 is devoted entirely to a retelling of Jesus’ birth. So basically, Wallace took the Biblical account of the life of Christ and used it as a background to the life of his hero, with Judah periodically running into Jesus or meeting his followers.

Wallace himself was an interesting character. Trained as a lawyer, he served as a Union general during the American Civil War and served on the military commission that tried the conspirators involved in Lincoln’s assassination. He supported Rutherford B Hayes in one of the most controversial elections in American history, and was rewarded in 1878 after Hayes’ victory by being appointed Governor of New Mexico Territory. It was during his time in that office that he wrote Ben-Hur (having already written a novel and a play). He also found time to arrange for Billy the Kid to testify in exchange for immunity for his crimes. In 1881 he was appointed ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.


Lew Wallace

Sales of the novel were slow at first, but within a few years the novel took off, and by 1900 it had becomes the best-selling novel of the 19th century. It remained at the top of the charts until 1936, when it was knocked off by Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

Wallace initially resisted allowing the novel to be turned into a play, out of a concern that no one could properly portray Jesus, but in 1889, he agreed to an adaptation in which Jesus was represented by a beam of light. That production was a run-away success, drawing an audience of religious men and women who had previously been uncomfortable with theater for moral reasons. It became a touring show and only ceased to be performed in 1921. The production used a system of horses running on treadmills with a moving background.


Ben-Hur in Films

Given the story’s intense popularity at the start of the 20th century, it was a fairly natural choice for movie-makers. In 1907, Sidney Olcott made a 15-minute silent movie that focused entirely on the chariot race, using New Jersey firemen as the charioteers and horses that normally pulled fire wagons. However, Olcott never bothered to get permission from the Wallace estate, triggering a landmark lawsuit that established that film makers were legally obligated to obtain the rights to any previously published work that was still under copyright. If you’re interested in this version, you can watch it on Youtube.


In 1922, Goldwyn Studios secured the rights to Ben-Hur and made an epic silent movie staring Ramon Navarro in the title role. Filmed in Italy, this version told the whole of Ben-Hur’s story, but stripped out most of the material about Jesus and his followers. It was the most expensive silent movie ever made and when it was released late in 1925, it managed to lose money even though it was a blockbuster (in part because the licensing deal gave the Wallace estate 50% of the profits). The film made Navarro one of the leader Hollywood actors. Its version of the chariot race was highly influential, and provided the template for racing scenes in the 1959 version of the film, as well as the 1998 Prince of Egypt animated movie and the pod-racing scene in The Phantom Menace.

The production was extremely troubled; among other catastrophes, May McAvoy, who was playing Esther, dislocated both her wrists; it was rumored that several extras died during the naval battle scene because they couldn’t swim; and the racing scene involved the death of quite a number of horses. The chariot race drew the whole pantheon of Hollywood royalty to watch it, and if you looked closely, you can see  Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Harold Lloyd, John and Lionel Barrymore, Lilian and Dorothy Gish, Sid Grauman, Samuel Goldwyn, Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, and Fay Wray in the stands. If you’re a fan of cinema history, it’s worth reading about the production.


The film is also quite explicit about its pro-Christian stance. It opens with the Nativity. Jesus cures Judah’s mother and sister of leprosy, while Judah attempts to lead an anti-Roman rebellion in the name of Jesus. It ends with the whole Hur family converting to Christianity. Like the stage play, Jesus is never show full-on, and is sometimes represented by a shaft of light.

In 1959, the story got its most famous cinematic treatment when it was directed by William Wyler, with Charleton Heston playing the lead. Like the 1925 version, it was a huge hit, winning 11 Academy Awards (a feat not equaled until 1997’s Titanic). It is widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made.


But getting the script written was a challenge; it went through 12 different drafts. Karl Tunberg got the script after numerous re-writes and stripped out a good deal of material that had been in the novel, including a substantial chunk of material that follows the fate of the characters after the Crucifixion.

Wyler intensely disliked Tunberg’s dialog, which he felt was too modern, and so he hired Gore Vidal to re-do the dialog. In 1995, Vidal famously claimed that he felt that the dynamic between Judah and Messala only made sense if the two men had once been lovers and that Messala was hoping to get back together with Judah but felt rejected after Judah spurned his advances. According to Vidal, he persuaded Wyler to accept his reading, and told Stephen Boyd, who was playing Messala, to play the scenes that way, but did not tell Heston. When the notoriously conservative Heston learned about Vidal’s claim, he vehemently denied it, but if Vidal’s story is true, Heston wouldn’t have known about it.

Decide for yourself if you believe Vidal’s story.

Regardless of whether Vidal added a homoerotic subtext or not, the film made other changes to the novel. Wallace’s novel is unabashed in its treatment of Christianity being superior to Judaism; the major Jewish characters mostly wind up converting to Christianity after all. Wyler’s version, which was made about a decade after the establishment of the modern state of Israel, was more respectful to Judaism. Jesus’ face is not shown and the actor who played him was not given any lines. Although the ending strongly hints at Ben-Hur’s conversion, it doesn’t make it explicit.

In 2003, Charleton Heston reprised his role in an animated version of the story, produced by his own production company. This version returns to Wallace’ approach to the religious issue. Jesus (voiced by Scott McNeill) is seen and given dialog. Ben-Hur’s sister and mother are both miraculously healed of leprosy, and Messala is miraculously cured of the injured leg he received in the chariot race. Mary Magdalene witnesses Jesus’ resurrection and ascent into Heaven, and the film closes with Judah teaching his children to be Christians.


There was also a 2010 Canadian miniseries of the story, with a cast that included Hugh Bonneville, Alex Kingston, Ray Winstone, and Ben Cross in supporting roles, but I haven’t been able to find enough about it to know how closely it adheres to the original material.


The 2016 Ben-Hur

I think it’s important to see the 2016 film in this light. Many people who’ve commented on the film seem unaware of any version other than the 1959 one, and consequently assume that the Heston version represents a sort of baseline from which the 2016 version has deviated. In fact, the Heston version is really the outlier. With the exception of the 1907 silent version, which is just the chariot race, most of the other versions have been explicitly Christian in their sympathies, and it’s the Christian element of the story that really attracted its executive producers, Roma “Touched By an Angel” Downey and Mark Burnett. Downey and Burnett have been nicknamed “Hollywood’s Noisest Christians” for their unabashed interest in pursuit of the evangelical film market. They produced the History Channel miniseries The Bible, and they have said they viewed the film as “a story of forgiveness with an underlying story of Jesus”.


Downey and Burnett are Christians, in case you were at all unclear

So the film’s decision to cast Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus and to give him several scenes beyond just the Crucifixion is in fact quite true to the source novel. It represents a movement away from Classic Hollywood’s desire to avoid directly showing Jesus on screen, but that’s a convention that no longer has much force.

Given the explicitly Christian background of this version, it’s perhaps surprising that the script isn’t even more Christian than it is. Until the Crucifixion scene, none of Jesus’ dialog comes from the Gospels, and you might be forgiven for not figuring out that this anonymous carpenter is supposed to be Jesus instead of some New Age political thinker. The film even has a clever twist. Dismas (Moises Arias) is an angry anti-Roman zealot whose attempt to assassinate Pontius Pilate causes the ruination of the Hur family, but at the end of the film he’s one of the two criminals crucified with Jesus, the one who declares that Jesus has does nothing to deserve this punishment.


Santoro as Jesus

Unfortunately, the film’s treatment of its Jewish characters is rather awkward. Given the anti-Semitism that was so common in American culture in the late 19th and early 20th century it’s not surprising that the novel and the earlier cinematic versions were so explicitly pro-Christian. The 1959 version, as I noted, downplayed that. But in 2016, having literally all the Jewish characters convert feels rather culturally insensitive.

At no point does the film make any real effort to establish what Judaism involved in this period, except that it doesn’t involve the worship of multiple gods. There are a few minor details in the sets; for example, the individual graves in the Jewish cemetery have small stones placed on them in keeping with the modern Jewish custom of doing just that. But that’s about it. None of the Jewish characters ever does anything that seems distinctly Jewish in either a cultural or a religious sense. For example, there are no shots of the Second Temple or depictions of any Jewish religious rituals, no references to Jewish dietary rules, or anything like that. Combined with the conversions at the end of the film, it seems clear that Judah and the rest of the Hur clan aren’t really Jews so much as proto-Christians.

And perhaps the expanded Christian elements of the film are part of the reason that it did so poorly at the box office. The story isn’t Christian enough to draw a large evangelical audience, but it’s Christian enough that its tenor feels out of step with what contemporary film-goers are looking for. It’s a bit like Toby Kebbell’s Messala, too Roman to fit in with his Jewish adoptive family and not Roman enough to please the Romans he serves. In the end, both Messala and the film failed to win out.

This post was written with the help of generous donations to my blog. If you like it, please think about sending a few dollars my way.


Want to Know More?

The 2016 movie isn’t available on Amazon yet, since it’s still in the theaters, but the 1925 silent version and 1959 Charleton Heston version of Ben Hur are. The 2010 miniseries is also available.

Or think about reading the original novel, which was the best-selling novel of the 19th century. It’s still one of the 20 best-selling novels of all time.


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raincitygirl: close up of the Hulk's face (Hulk (kickair8p))
([personal profile] raincitygirl Aug. 30th, 2016 06:11 pm)
Cutting for discussion of child harm and attempted murder (not successful) of a child:

Read more... )
baranduin: (Default)
([personal profile] baranduin Aug. 30th, 2016 06:05 pm)
So Donald Trump is here in Seattle for a rally. As far as I am concerned, he can stay a while, spend his donors money here. It's not going to get him anything. After all he hasn't a prayer of a chance at winning bluer than blue Washington state.

Though it is interesting he is up in Everett, an hour or so north of Seattle. I wonder if he tried Seattle venues this time...he did last time but got cockblocked by clever officials.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
([personal profile] edenfalling Aug. 30th, 2016 01:48 pm)
1. Tested my printer, discovered the ink had gone all weird, and therefore went to the public library to print copies of my resume and reference list. I have a recurring problem with ink, probably because I only use my printer about once every three or four months; this means that when I want to use it, the ink has often dried up and I have to buy replacement cartridges long before I should need to judging by number of pages printed.

more items under cut )
August 2016 recs update:

[personal profile] unfitforsociety has been updated for August 2016 with 35 recs in 13 fandoms:

* 11 Star Wars
* 5 Star Trek Beyond
* 4 Avengers
* 3 Harry Potter
* 2 DCU
* 2 Narnia
* 2 Check, Please!
* 1 Brooklyn Nine Nine, 1 Bourne Identity, 1 Ghostbusters
* 1 Rivers of London, 1 Sorcerer to the Crown, and 1 A Year and a Day in Old Theradane

(I definitely recommend reading A Year and a Day in Old Theradane by Scott Lynch, especially if you enjoy magical heist stories, and then reading the story that was written for it for Yuletide last year. I might request that this year if it gets nominated. Thanks to [personal profile] isis for the links!)

FFT: Chapter 7--Thomas Rhymer

In which the geography of the setting strongly resembles female genitalia, Fairyland resembles suburbia, fairy queens are mother goddesses, the hero crosses a magical menstrual river, conflict and struggle are completely nonexistent, and the three of us can’t get over how much Walker gets wrong.

Basically, this is what the story is like:

#not safe for work #NSFW
onyxlynx: Some trees and a fountain at a cemetery (A Fine and Private Place)
([personal profile] onyxlynx Aug. 29th, 2016 04:06 pm)
I heard someone talk about this on the bus home, and I was hoping it wasn't true. More fool me.

Gene Wilder, comic actor.

With video clips. He had Alzheimer's. It's just sad.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
([personal profile] edenfalling Aug. 29th, 2016 04:00 pm)
twelve pepper plants in terracotta pots and plastic windowboxes
twelve peppers, Monday, 29 August 2016

six more photos under the cut )

Nothing much to report, really. They are all alive. The Lazarus pepper is growing strong. There are actualfax peppers all over the place, and a bunch of blossoms, too. Everything is awesome. :D

...Okay, and a squirrel dug around in one pot a little bit this morning, so I will have to reapply the repellent spray, but nothing was mangled or tipped or bitten, so I am not particularly bothered. This time.

[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
Title: A Friend in Need
Fandom: Star Trek: AOS
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Leonard McCoy & Spock, James T. Kirk
Genre: Gen, Hurt/Comfort
Word count: ~4000 words
Additional Tags: Blood and injury, loss of control, emotional baggage, hand-holding, crying, delirium, declarations of love, found family, post-Star Trek Beyond.
Summary: “Doctor, why does my loss of control unnerve you so? You often berate me for my so-called lack of emotions… but when I do express them, it seems it is you who are incapable of bearing it.”
Another mission goes awry, causing injury to Spock, and Leonard McCoy is forced to confront an uncomfortable truth.

Story link @ AO3.
elisi: (Missy)
([personal profile] elisi Aug. 29th, 2016 07:03 pm)

ETA: Oh, and this one was too good not to share also:

ETA2: The Onion is spot-on as usual:

What Is The Alt-Right?
So I bought myself this really cute* (and super marked down) Kate Spade tote bag and I'm using it today (since it is very summery and there's not a lot of summer left *sob*) and unfortunately, while it's a cute, capacious bag, it is not well configured for me. The zipper goes the wrong way (when I'm using a tote bag, I want to be able to unzip from the front; I don't want to have to swing the bag around to get to the zipper pull), the two inside slip pockets aren't easily accessible, and there's no outside pockets at all, for things like my phone, tissues, lip balm, and metrocard. So I guess it will go into the closet and wait for an opportunity to use it next summer, probably for a weekend kind of thing instead of as an everyday work bag.

*It's a big canvas tote bag printed with pink grapefruit slices and it says "Pucker Up" on the front. I think the actual name of the bag is "Pucker Up, Francis." Whoever Francis is. *hands*

In other news, last night - as I have for much of the summer - I wrestled with the "do I watch something new or do I reread/rewatch something I already know I like" dilemma for a while, and then cued up the first episode of Stranger Things on Netflix, since I've heard so many good things about it, especially since I was 13 in 1983! It is my era! These kids are my people!

I enjoyed it, and I thought they got the ambiance right (and the Spielbergian references, too), though I grew up in Queens, not small-town Indiana. Also it's a little weird to see Winona Ryder in the mom role. But I liked it enough that I will continue, though I thought one episode was good for last night, since it was Sunday, and did require some comfort reading afterwards. Though I'm sure I'll want to talk about it as I watch, I'm not planning to marathon it all at once (maybe one or two episodes a night? depending?), so please don't spoil me!

edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
([personal profile] edenfalling Aug. 29th, 2016 10:08 am)
I have a job interview at 11:30am today. It's not the greatest job in the world, and is also sadly part-time rather than full-time, but this is one of those cases where something is clearly better than nothing, so.

I did some prep with Vicky yesterday during our phone conversation, I have looked the company up online and spent an hour or so poking around their website, I know the relevant bus schedule to get me there, and I think I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be.

Now please excuse me while I indulge in five minutes of distilled panic to get it out of my system. :)

oh god the sky is going to fall, they'll hate me, they'll laugh me out of the building, they'll ask questions and I'll go blank and start drooling, my pad and tampon will fail catastrophically all at once and I'll leave bloodstains on their furniture, I will turn out to have grievously offended at least one of the interviewers in the past and they'll be even more offended when I don't remember doing it, they'll ask me detailed questions about PowerPoint, I'll forget to ask their names, I'll forget to offer copies of my resume, I'll smile too much, I won't smile enough, I'll have horrible sweat stains all down my back and under my arms, my shoes will disintegrate in the middle of the conversation, I will spontaneously combust and run out of the building in flames, my glasses will fall apart, my pen will explode in my hand when I try to take notes, they'll hate me they'll hate me they'll hate me


Okay, done now.


ETA: It went pretty well, I think, and I remembered to send thank-you notes to hopefully reinforce my good impression. :)
par_avion: collage of intl air mail stickers (Default)
([personal profile] par_avion posting in [community profile] vidding Aug. 28th, 2016 10:23 pm)
Hello, [community profile] vidding members!

Many fans have been checking out Imzy in the last few days. (Imzy is a new social media site created by former Reddit and twitter employees, and it feels a bit tumblr-like).

It is still in beta, so you can't see anything without logging in.

I've created a place for Vid & Vidding-related discussions here. If you don't have an imzy account yet, you can request an invite at that link.

VividCon, Festivids and VidUKon all have Imzy pages now, and Ian has created a page to discuss vidding tech. All of these are listed in the Vids & Vidding "neighborhood."

Some vidders have created blogs there to to post their vids, other people have just created individual accounts.

There is no shortage of imzy invites floating around fandom twitter and journals, so feel free to request one if you are at all curious.
settiai: (Kima -- settiai)
([personal profile] settiai Aug. 28th, 2016 09:28 pm)
Just to note: my requests include Critical Role, Doctor Who, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect.

First of all, relax! I'm far from being picky, and I can pretty much guarantee that I'll love whatever you decide to draw or write for me. These are nothing but guidelines, for you to take to heart or ignore to your heart's content. Also, hey! You're drawing and/or writing me femslash! What's not to love? ♥

That said, I thought that I'd elaborate a bit on my requests in case, like me, you're the type of person who likes to have something to work with. Feel free to use and/or ignore as much of this as you want. I've tried to include a mix of vague prompts as well as more detailed ones, to hopefully make things as helpful as possible whether you're drawing art or writing fic.

More details under the cut. )


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