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More LJ kerfuffles

*sigh*

I don't want to be alarmed about the new LJ Terms of Service, I really don't.  But a couple of those on my friends-list have pointed out, quite correctly, that the new language includes an unusually broad and egregious rights grab:

If User participates in any rankings or if User’s Content is used in any editorial projects of the Service, User provides to the Administration an additional authorisation to modify, shorten and amend his/her Content, to add images, a preamble, comments or any clarifications to his/her Content while using it, and in certain cases based on the Service functions, an authorisation to use User’s Content anonymously.

This is not, by itself, enough to make me fold my LJ entirely.  However, it's going to change my posting habits.

I'll still be reading on both DW and LJ, and I will still crosspost short off-the-cuff thoughts and comments.  However, new "Tales of Darkest Suburbia" entries, detailed reviews or commentaries, and any and all fictional content will not be crossposted to LJ.  Those will appear on the Dreamwidth journal and/or my "Lone Penman" Webspace.

I dislike doing this (not least because I honestly doubt that the Russian readership, if any, is much interested in my particular work), but I retain enough writerly paranoia that I think it's prudent.  Again, I am not actually leaving LJ as yet -- but as of today, my LiveJournal is a secondary Web presence, and there will be content elsewhere that does not get reposted to LJ.

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at https://djonn.dreamwidth.org/45622.html); feel free to comment here or there.

You’d think that two free restaurant dinners in one day would be grounds for celebration.  In practice, it didn’t actually work out that way….

It so happens that, after the closing went through on the condominium that’s now Lone Penman Headquarters, the realtor on our side of the deal sent along a respectably generous gift card for one of the new online restaurant-delivery services.  For a one-person household who (a) doesn’t drive and (b) occasionally works multiple graveyard shifts in sequence, this was an especially happy gift, and I have been whittling away at that gift card balance with good results.

Until this past Wednesday, that is, when I placed an order for a shrimp ravioli dish from a nearby Italian place, one from which I’d ordered happily before.  As on the prior occasion, the delivery driver actually beat the estimated delivery window by 15 minutes or so, and handed me a hot takeout box (the entree) and a sturdy small-sized pizza box (the extra side of focaccia).  I thanked him, closed the door, headed for the kitchen, and was actually dividing the entree — enough for two meals, as before — into a bowl and a plastic storage container when I realized that Something Was Wrong.

I had gotten not shrimp with ravioli, but shrimp risotto.

And sadly, I am not at all fond of risotto.  Also, even good risotto tends not to travel well.

The ensuing online chat conversation unfolded like a classic series of good news/bad news jokes.  The chat agent promptly got on the phone with the restaurant…but I couldn’t get the right entree sent over, because there wasn’t a driver available.  They were happy to refund the entree price…but we ran into enormous trouble trying to verify that the refund had actually landed on my electronic gift card (neither the delivery service or its gift card vendor had a way to look up the stored balance without the long alphanumeric code on the paper card I’d originally been given).

And by the time I looked up from typing a highly annoyed email to the gift card vendor, two hours had gone by, during which the shrimp-risotto-not-ravioli had been sitting out on my counter getting cold.  I sighed, tossed it (between not liking risotto and the food safety lectures one hears about not leaving hot food out, I wasn’t going to take chances), and went off to take an abbreviated pre-work nap.

Now, one of the few shortcomings of the shiny new Lone Penman HQ is that while the bus stop is a mere five-minute walk from my front door, and the bus ride to work takes maybe seven minutes, the buses stop running much too early at night for someone working a graveyard shift.  And the weather is not yet good enough to commute via bicycle.  I have therefore taken to riding the last bus up to the relevant intersection and hanging out in one of the available hangouts until it’s actually time to report to work. The night in question being a Wednesday, the McMenamin’s was closed by the time I got there, and I was too hungry to be satisfied with Taco Bell, so I went into Shari’s, thinking that at least I could get some dinner there.  [There is also a Mysterious Seedy-Looking Sports Bar in one of the shopping centers that no one ever talks about.  Someday I may explore the Mysterious Seedy-Looking Sports Bar.  Last Wednesday was not that day.]

And indeed, I ordered a small plate of fish & chips, ate the salad that preceded it, took a bite of fish, and was just picking up an herbed French fry…

…when there was a dramatic BLINK, and all the lights went out.

“We’re sorry,” came the sad but still cheery voice of the Shari’s night manager out of the darkness, “but we have to kick you all out into the street send you all out into the parking lot.  You can’t be here when there’s no power.  It’s not safe.”

“On the other hand,” she added, in a cheery but still sad voice, “whatever you were having tonight is on us.”

I managed to snag a couple of the herbed French fries before following the crowd of customers out of the restaurant into a night which was now not just dark, but extremely dark — it wasn’t just Shari’s that had lost power, but everything for at least several blocks in all directions, up to and including street lights and traffic signals.  And as matters turned out, the outage only lasted perhaps half an hour.  I was able to clock in on schedule at work, and the computers were up and running again.

But what I’m going to remember most about that particular night is having been given two free dinners, and only being able to eat half of one of them.

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at http://djonn.dreamwidth.org/45469.html); feel free to comment here or there.

Prompt customer service for the win!

Major brownie points to the membership staff at Oregon Public Broadcasting this morning.  Following my mother's move a few months ago, I'm in the process of notifying all manner of people and organizations that various mailings should be redirected or discontinued...and it took a mere seven (7) minutes for OPB to turn around an emailed request with a reply from an actual human being that the relevant action had been taken.

Sometimes, customer service really is just that good.

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at http://djonn.dreamwidth.org/45066.html); feel free to comment here or there.

And awwaaayy we go!

The movers/packers are here, and it is time to close down the 'Net for migration.  We will return to Darkest Suburbia on the flip side (from the scenic environs of suburban Beaverton).

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at http://djonn.dreamwidth.org/44934.html); feel free to comment here or there.

Admin: Darkest Suburbia gets a makeover

Actually, two or three makeovers, but we'll get to that in a moment:

The least significant in absolute terms (but the one with the most immediate visible impact) is the quick cosmetic makeover I've done on my Dreamwidth journal style in the wake of recent migrations.  I'm reasonably pleased with the new look, though if something is acting peculiar as you read this on the DW side, do let me know.

The weather has also been somewhat more than usually exciting, as my more local readers are already aware; Portland has had two impressive-for-us snowstorms already this winter and the forecasters are hinting darkly at another flurry on the horizon -- which may or may not arrive just in time to strand my monthly SFnal book group in the Beaverton branch of Powell's overnight.

Then there's the bigger news: after 25 (gasp!) years in my present apartment, I am actually preparing to move to a different part of Darkest Suburbia.  A combination of factors -- a change of workplace (same job, different location), a concurrent move on my mother's part, the state of the Portland rental and housing markets, and some other familial considerations -- means that I'm about to shift status from Apartment Dweller to Condominium Resident.  This has the inevitable pluses and minuses: in absolute terms, I'll sacrifice a little bit of square footage, and the new place is a second floor unit (more stairs).  But I'll have a much larger kitchen space, the new neighborhood should be more bicycle-friendly, there's a high-grade movie theater in (longish) walking distance, and I won't need to change buses to get to the aforementioned Beaverton Powell's.

Now I just have to pack 25 years' worth of books.  And declutter.  And try to sell off a comic book collection, and etc., etc....

If I'm a little scarce online for the next few weeks, that's why.

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at http://djonn.dreamwidth.org/44623.html); feel free to comment here or there.

Admin: Darkest Suburbia is still here

Yes, I'm still alive (and I will try to post more actual news soon, given that there is some, but you would not believe how busy things are here just now):

This journal has for quite awhile now been duplicated on DW and on LJ -- partly because I like having backups, and partly in the wake of one or the other the-sky-is-falling memes.  We have another one of those circulating this week, with news that LJ's servers are now based in the opposite hemisphere from Darkest Suburbia (specifically, in Mother Russia).  This is apparently viewed as a Harbinger of Doom and a sign of the End Times.

We shall see; in any event, what I'm here to tell you is that while I continue to do most of the heavy lifting on the DreamWidth side, I have no intention of departing LiveJournal until the last light goes out and the last bit of tinsel is vacuumed up.  (Those in the gallery who remember GEnie will recall that I was there till the very end of that party, too.)  As a practical matter, my friends-list on LJ is much larger than the one for this account on DW (I do read both regularly), and I honestly don't think it likely that anything I've posted here is sufficiently controversial to draw the attention of any Minions of Evil that may be reading this over in that other hemisphere.  And even if it is, I've got the DW import of this journal, so there's no question of actual content being lost for good.

OTOH, if anyone wants to set up housekeeping on the DW side Just In Case, then let me know if you do so that I can add you to the reading page Over There.  (Or if you are already there under some other name, which I know does happen, tell me that too.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled winter morning....

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at http://djonn.dreamwidth.org/44423.html); feel free to comment here or there.

Paging the Internet....

Most peculiar.  I can get to the majority of my daily Web crawl, but both my Web host's email gateway and Twitter seem to be down hard.  Is somebody trying to break the 'Net today?

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at http://djonn.dreamwidth.org/44203.html); feel free to comment here or there.
Of course I was just getting ready to go catch a bus when the sirens began yowling.

Just west of the driveway for my apartment complex: four police vehicles, one fire truck, lots and lots of not-really-moving cars, and no really obvious sign of what's going on.  Some kind of traffic issue, by the look, but evidently a little farther west than I could tell from a quick look.

I guess I'll surf the 'Net for another few minutes....

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at http://djonn.dreamwidth.org/44022.html); feel free to comment here or there.

Ashland 2016: Twelfth Night

Ninety-nine percent of this year's production of Twelfth Night at OSF is sheer genius.  The set design for its nominal 1930s Hollywood transposition is clever in all the right ways, nearly all the performances are exceptional, and the comic swordfight between Sir Andrew and Viola-as-Cesario gets the single funniest execution I've seen in the 40+ years I've been attending the festival.  (Clearly we'd best not ask how many calla lilies they've gone through since the run started.)

And then we get to the twin-revelation scene, and the magic evaporates.

Now back in 2008, an OSF production of Comedy of Errors attempted the daring stunt of casting one (count him, one) actor in the role of both Antipholuses (Antipholi?), and likewise one (count again, one) actor in the role of both Dromios.  What's more, they made the stunt work -- a very clever bit of staging at the tail end of the play skated around the problem of producing both sets of twins onstage at once. Note to Christopher Liam Moore, director of this year's Twelfth Night: do not try this at home. Or at least if you're going to try it, commit to the premise and run with it.

It's not that Sara Bruner doesn't do a credible job of playing both Viola and Sebastian, though here she is merely very good in a cast where everyone else is outstanding.  Especially high marks go to Ted Deasy for a beautifully dry Malvolio, Danforth Comins for a hilariously high-strung Andrew Aguecheek (all the more remarkable given that Comins' other role this year is the Prince of Denmark himself), and Gina Daniels as Olivia, here imagined as an exotically sultry but reclusive film star.

Part of the problem is technological.  In absolute terms, the screen-projection trickery that allows Bruner to appear in both roles simultaneously is ingenious, and the execution is period-appropriate for the 1930s setting.  But it's also unfortunately primitive (or made to appear so) by comparison to modern film and television standards, and nothing in the run-up to the finale prepares the audience for what amounts to a left turn into pulp-era science fiction at exactly the wrong emotional moment.

More troubling yet, though, is what happens after the magic doubling effect is dismissed.  Bruner is left onstage as Viola/Cesario -- but in the very last moment, finds herself being treated as Viola by Orsino and Sebastian by Olivia, literally pulled in opposite directions at once.  In theory, this is obviously a nod to the questions of gender identity Shakespeare himself raises in the script...but as with the special-effects trickery, there's been no foundation laid for this interpretation of the character(s) anywhere in the preceding two hours.  One can certainly imagine, nowadays, a staging of Twelfth Night in which the "twins" are in fact two minds in one body, with the attendant gender-bending consequences -- but this is not that show.

And as a result, the last few seconds in which it tries to become that show fall absolutely, utterly flat.  Which is frustrating in the extreme, because in nearly every other respect this is a home-run production.

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at http://djonn.dreamwidth.org/43522.html); feel free to comment here or there.

Ashland 2016: Yeomen of the Guard

[crossposted from The Lone Penman]

If you are a Gilbert & Sullivan purist, you may want to steer clear of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's current incarnation of Yeomen of the Guard -- it is, I'm advised by the G&S purists in our tour group, a sufficiently free adaptation that they might as well have called it something else.  (Possibly Boys & Girls of the Golden West....)

If, however, you're the sort of person who doesn't mind a little country in your sort-of-light operetta (Yeomen being the G&S equivalent of one of Shakespeare's weirder, edgier "comedies", on the order of Measure for Measure) -- and especially if you're the sort of person who likes meta in their fanfiction and more than a little audience-generated improv in your live theatre  -- then run, do not walk, to the OSF box office and book your ticket now.

In fact, while the libretto is definitely retuned for this production, it's not as severely mangled as my purist fellow travelers might lead you to think.  Though the setting is a light-duty Wild West town square with props and costumes that wouldn't be out of place on a Muppet Show set, it's still called Tower Green, the yeomen are still called yeomen, and the intricate scansion that makes G&S what it is remains largely intact.

Indeed, the most unusual element of this staging isn't the cartoon-Western set design at all.  It's the fact that about twenty percent of the audience for the show is being seated right there on that cartoon-Western set...which includes an actual operational saloon bar, where (if you're among that part of the audience) you can buy yourself a beer or a soda or what have you at any time during the 90-minute duration of the performance.

But the presence of a live cash bar onstage isn't, in itself, what's novel here.  What's novel is that the audience in what's being called "promenade" seating essentially becomes part of the cast for that performance.  Those sitting on-set will -- not may, will -- find themselves moving from haybale to rocking horse to billiards table and back as the action ebbs and flows.  An actor might unexpectedly swap hats with you during a musical number.  Another actor might call you out for looking entirely too much like James Taylor.  Or someone could spill their beer right into the players' main traffic lane, thereby becoming comic relief for the ninety-odd seconds required for an usher to produce towels and clean up the spill.  [Yes, all of those things actually happened the night I saw the show.]  And all of those moments combine with the crisp, high-energy artistry of Ashland's crackerjack repertory performers to produce something that's not merely wonderful but wondrous.  Even for the many promenade denizens who aren't pulled into the limelight -- and, for the more traditionally seated audience -- the resulting explosion of sheer interpersonal chemistry makes for a uniquely delightful theatrical experience.

The consensus among our tour group afterward is that doing the show that way must be even more than usually complicated and exhausting for the actors, though a few of us also pointed out that for at least some of them, it's likely to have been the most fun they've ever been legally allowed to have onstage.

One can only hope that it's a sufficiently successful experiment for OSF to do it again.  Because next time, I want one of those promenade seats....

Crossposted from my mirror-journal on Dreamwidth (at http://djonn.dreamwidth.org/43316.html); feel free to comment here or there.

Confucius Say....

"I am totally a folklore pirate. Ahoy, mateys! Slow down your fairy tale and prepare to be boarded!"

-- Seanan McGuire

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