Three Years of Co-Geeking

Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky…

Third time pays for all…

Once the number three, being the third number be reached…

Dynamic Text- Monty Python: Holy Hand Grenade by Furnace1717 on YouTube

 

…it shall be heretowith known as the third anniversary of Co-Geeking.

Following are a few high points from the past year for us:

Favorite posts

Erik: My favorite post of the past year is What Makes a Fantasy World Feel European?, in which I tried to dig into some of the deeper elements of worldbuilding that keep imagined worlds tied to European models, even when some of the surface details are changed up. There is a great deal more that could be said on this subject, but I think the pattern I explored of cultural and economic integration combined with political fragmentation is useful for us to keep in mind when reading, writing, or thinking about secondary-world fantasy fiction.

Eppu: Like last year, I have a tie again. Firstly, Good Night, Cassini, Good Work, I’ll Most Likely Kill You in the Morning, for I continue to be flabbergasted over the amazing photos sent by the Cassini mission to Saturn. Secondly—and, interestingly, completely at the other end of human history—is the Ancient Clay Cup Animation of a scene laid out on a clay cup at the Bronze Age site of Shahr-e Sūkhté (or Shahr-e Sukhteh) in Sistan, southeastern Iran.

A Trio of Heroes

(a favorite geeky thing that happened this year)

Eppu: Black Panther the movie! It was visually beautiful and skillfully constructed (both storywise and with respect to the effects), but the absolute best thing about it was the humanity in the story. Like Erik said in our random thoughts post, “Black Panther feels like the movie we most need in 2018: a meditation on the temptations of division, resentment, and revenge and the hard choice of embracing a flawed and fractured world with hope.” Plus so. Many. Awesome. Women!

Erik: Superheroes aren’t just for white men any more. Although there have been non-white- and female-led superhero movies in the past, as aficionados will eagerly point out, the past year has felt like a corner being finally turned. Wonder Woman, Thor:Ragnarok, and Black Panther all showed that getting people who aren’t white and male into significant roles in front of and behind the camera can lead to superhero movies that are both artistically awesome and financially successful, and the follow-up to Infinity War looks set to hand the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe over to a cast that is, at the least, a bit less overwhelmingly white and male than we’ve had so far. We haven’t reached anything like parity yet, but this past year was a good step.

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Three Favorite Jane Austen Screen Adaptations

July 18, 2017, marked the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, my favorite (deceased) author.

JASNA Truth Universally Acknowledged Book Always Better

To honor her work, we rewatched all of the screen adaptations that we could easily get our hands on.

Jane Austen Rewatch Owned Adaptations

Here, in short, are three of my absolute favorites. (For links to the complete reviews, visit my post A Jane Austen Rewatch Project for the 200th Anniversary of Her Passing.)

Sense and Sensibility (anonymously published in 1811) is by far my favorite Austen novel, and my favorite adaptation is the Andrew Davies miniseries (directed by John Alexander; 2008). It stars Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield as Elinor and Marianne. Both were new to me, but I was familiar with the significant male actors: Dan Stevens (Mr. Edward Ferrars) is in the first few seasons of Downton Abbey, David Morrissey (Colonel Brandon) portrays the confused faux-Doctor in the Doctor Who Christmas special “The Next Doctor”, and Dominic Cooper (Mr. Willoughby) as young Howard Stark scratches science to see if it bleeds in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Captain America: The First Avenger and Agent Carter (and rules as King Llane Wrynn in the Warcraft movie).

It was a gutsy choice of Davies to begin the series with Willoughby’s explicit seduction of a 15-year-old girl, an event which happens very much off-screen in the novel and most adaptations, but becomes the crux of the plot.

The series does have some issues. For example, the Devonshire “cottage” that the financially strained Dashwood ladies had to accept was turned into a literal cottage instead of a good, solid house from the novel. The events are condensed, sure, but their pace doesn’t feel rushed like in the movie versions. Most of the writing, acting, propping, and costuming are solid to excellent.

Jane Austen Rewatch Three Favorites

Emma (1815) was the fourth and last of Austen’s works to be published during her lifetime, and the Emma miniseries from 2009 (adapted by Sandy Welch, directed by Jim O’Hanlon) outshines the other adaptations. (Unsuprisingly, the miniseries format serves Austen’s nuance much better than the movie length.)

The version has several strengths, starting with excellent casting. Romola Garai stars as Emma Woodhouse, and Jonny Lee Miller (who has more recently – and deservedly – starred as Sherlock Holmes in the series Elementary) as Mr. Knightley. Miller’s is by far the most enjoyable Mr. Knightley performance I’ve seen. Mr. Knightley is often played as rather curt and strict, which I find not just offputting but a mistake.

All major characters are introduced at the beginning of episode 1, which helps people new to Austen. Moreover, this version does the epilogue clearly and succinctly, without massive infodumping. In addition, I immensely enjoy the music, the set dressing, costuming and propping, and other visuals. It’s a thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable Emma. In fact, if the same team were to make other Austen adaptations, I’d go to great lenghts to see them.

Finally, Persuasion is a novel of pressures, choices, and second chances, posthumously published in 1817. The 1995 movie version of Persuasion is excellent. The screenplay is by Nick Dear, and Roger Mitchell directed Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth. I really like Root’s understated and considerate version of Anne; Hinds works well enough even if a few scenes tend towards hammy.

Although the picture quality is grainy, the soundtrack is nice and there are subtitles (not a given on older DVDs). The props, locations, and costuming are also great. This is my favorite version so far—in an ideal world, of course, we would be due another adaptation.

For links to the complete mini-reviews of these and all of the other adaptations, visit my post A Jane Austen Rewatch Project for the 200th Anniversary of Her Passing.

Images: Book is always better screencap from JASNA website. Both DVD images by Eppu Jensen.

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

The Hobbit’s 80th Anniversary

On this day in September, many years ago, there finally was The Hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty book, though, filled with beetle-holes and a musty smell, but a Hobbit book, and that means comfort…

Tolkien Gateway Bilbo Comes to Huts of Raft-elves

In other words: J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famousest of novels The Hobbit was first published September 21, 1937, by Allen & Unwin.

Happy 80th Birthday!

Alas, 80 years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable readers—we therefore wish you many more!

Image: Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves via Tolkien Gateway (1937; color drawing; J.R.R. Tolkien)

Two Years of Co-Geeking

The Two Towers

Epsiode II: Attack of the Clones

Our two chief weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…

… and two years of Co-Geeking.

We’ve been at this now for two years since we started on June 1 of 2015 and we’re still having fun. After our first year of figuring out what we want this blog to be about and how we want to do it, in our second year we’ve used our site to do what we can to promote some projects that are important to us, like the publication of Hidden Youth and the upcoming Worldcon 75 in Helsinki.

Here’s a look at what’s been important to us in the past year:

Favorite posts

Eppu: Appropriately, I have a twofer: 20 Fantasy Worlds to Visit and Down with Dull Dystopias. The former lists historical and fantasy novels I’ve liked or would like to try; the latter is a rant-ish opinion on the lack of humanity and empathy in my (then) recent reading.

Erik: Why Hidden Youth Matters to Me. I’m very proud to have a story included in Hidden Youth, but I’m also proud to have been a part of making that collection happen, regardless of my participation in it. In this post I talk about why, and why inclusiveness is important to me as a historian and a professor.

Our two chief weapons

(a favorite geeky thing that happened this year)

Erik: I’ll admit, I’m going to be predictably selfish on this one and say the publication of Hidden Youth. Not only is it a wonderful collection with a tremendous scope in style and setting, it’s my first professionally published fiction. How can I not be excited about that?

Eppu: The release of Arrival. It was doubly welcome because it’s a thoughtful adaptation of a nuanced story (the 1998 “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang) and because it’s regrettably rare to see science fiction movies with actual, full-time female leads who are not defined by motherhood, full-blown badassery (and nothing else), or their relationships with men.

Image: Monty Python’s “Spanish Inquisition” via Giphy

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Happy Twentieth Anniversary, Buffy!

“Welcome to the Hellmouth,” the first episode of Joss Whedon’s cult series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, premiered on March 10th 1997. Happy twentieth anniversary, Buffy!

Here are a few of our favorite Buffy episodes or moments.

One of the better-executed truly creepy episodes I’ve seen is “Hush,” season 4, episode 10.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer | The gentlemen via SpookyTube

“Once More, with Feeling,” the musical episode (s. 6, ep. 7), is so much fun despite its cheesiness! Also has one of my favorite throw-away scenes ever: “They got the mustard ooooooouuut!”

They Got The Mustard Out! via PrincePrimeval

In “Grave” (s. 6, ep. 22), Xander saves dark Willow, who’s about to destroy the world, without any superhuman powers by reminding her of their friendship.

Xander saves Willow via ChrisPhaleus

Buffy’s speech to potential slayers and allies before the final battle in “Chosen” (s. 7, ep. 22) is also epic.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer – 7×22 – Chosen – Speach [sic] via Tito Luiz Pereira

“In every generation, one Slayer is born, because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman [points to Willow] is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say my power, should be our power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer, will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”

What are your favorite Buffy memories?

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

New Edition of Alice in Wonderland with Salvador Dalí

In 2015, commemorating the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Princeton University Press reprinted a color edition with illustrations by Salvador Dalí.

William Bennet Modern Down the Rabbit Hole DALI1003

Surreal, almost psychedelic, and rarely seen before the reprint, the original gouaches were first published in 1969.

William Bennet Modern The Mock Turtle's Story DALI1011

The color use is amazing, and the surrealist style fits elements of the story. However, I can’t escape the feeling that had I seen these illustrations as a kid, they would’ve given me nightmares.

Found via Colossus and Brain Pickings.

Images: Down the Rabbit Hole and The Mock Turtle’s Story via William Bennett Gallery (1969; heliogravures of original gouaches; by Salvador Dalí)

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Labyrinth Released 30 Years Ago

Jareth: “You remind me of the babe.”

Goblin 1: “What babe?”

Jareth: “The babe with the power.”

Goblin 2: “What power?”

Jareth: “Power of voodoo.”

Goblin 3: “Who do?”

Jareth: “You do.”

Goblin 4: “Do what?”

Jareth: “Remind me of the babe.”

Labyrinth Movie

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the release of Labyrinth by director Jim Henson. This past weekend FantomEvents ran some special Labyrinth showings in theaters. We didn’t go due to schedule issues (=work, work, work) but instead watched it at home.

As a geeky kid of the 80s, I have very fond memories of the movie. It’s mostly because of its visuals, but I do like the fantastic lines – great for learning English with – and voice acting as well.

Flickr leeno The Worm from Labyrinth

Sarah: “Did you say ‘Hello’?”

Worm: “No, I said ‘allo’, but that’s close enough.”

(One of my very first tastes of dialectal / regional English!)

If my memory serves, the puppetry effects in Labyrinth are mostly better than in The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s previous fantasy movie. (Note to self: Find out if I can rent / stream The Dark Crystal. Local library to the rescue!)

Some of the songs, too, have become long-time favorites, especially “As the World Falls Down” by David Bowie.

Ballroom Scene – Labyrinth – The Jim Henson Company

As a kid, I didn’t really understand how someone could like Bowie’s music, but that one song opened my eyes. (Ears?) I still love it, and the ballroom scene with its floating props.

Bonus find: Stephanie at Make and Tell shares her “the babe with the power” wall art printable.

Stephanie Make and Tell babewiththepower_printable_mockup2

What’s your favorite Labyrinth memory?

Crossposted from the Playfully Grownup Home blog.

Images: Labyrinth DVD case by Eppu Jensen. “The Worm” from Labyrinth by leeno on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). The babe with the power printable by Stephanie at Make and Tell.

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

The Neverending Story Has an Anniversary Doodle

Google tells me with a lovely doodle that it’s the 37th anniversary of the first printing of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

Google Doodle Falkor from Neverending Story

Originally published in German on September 01, 1979, Die unendliche Geschichte was translated into Finnish in 1982 (and apparently English in 1983, with the film adaptation in 1984). I can’t quite remember if I ever read it. At the same time, I want to recall a gorgeous tome with both green and red print, so I guess I must at least have been handling the Finnish translation at one point.

Finnish translation of The Neverending Story (Tarina vailla loppua) by Katja Jalkanen at Lumiomena

(No, I did not imagine the green and red print!)

While the movie version isn’t terribly well-made nor the first I saw in a theater, it is one of the first screen adaptations that made me realize I was a geek even if I didn’t have a word for it at the time. It’s purely for nostalgia that I own and occasionally rewatch it. I’m now wondering whether I should’ve bought the book instead.

Images: Falkor from Neverending Story by Sophie Diao via Google Doodle. Finnish translation of The Neverending Story (Tarina vailla loppua) by Katja Jalkanen at Lumiomena

This post has been edited for style.

ICBIHRTB—pronounced ICK-bert-bee—is short for ‘I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read This Before’. It’s an occasional feature for book classics that have for some reason escaped our notice thus far.

One Year of Co-Geeking

One ring to rule them all…160601ring

The chosen one shall rise…

Rogue One

… and one year of Co-Geeking.

It is one year since we started Co-Geeking on June 1st, 2015. It’s been a year of figuring things out, trying out different kinds of posts and discussions, and beginning to reach out our fellow geeks out there. We’ve taken our first steps into a larger world.

Here’s a few thoughts on what the past year has been like for us:

Favorite posts

Erik: “The Celts” and the Victorian Hangover. Of all the posts I have written in the past year, I think I am proudest of this one. It looks at some important aspects of how we think about history and why historical theories matter today. I would like to think that I took a confusing topic that it mostly discussed by academics and helped make it understandable to people outside the academy.

Eppu: The Glory of Library and Museum Materials. As a visual person, I really love being able to do image searches online for things to edit or use as-is. For historical research, library and museum websites are the best. For speed, I tend to stick with languages and sites I know best (e.g. NYPL, Library of Congress, The Met). For this post, I looked up institutions elsewhere in the world and learned quite a bit. Hopefully also the list of libraries and museums in my post is helpful to others.

One thing to rule them all

(a favorite geeky thing that happened this year)

Eppu: The fact that the Helsinki in 2017 campaign won the bid for Worldcon 75. Having a major international con in Finland, during our centennial of independence to boot, is just amazing. As a Finn and a supporter of the bid, I’m very, very, VERY happy.

Erik: The revival of Star Wars. It’s awesome to see new Star Wars movies come out that feel like they belong in the Star Wars galaxy but also give us a fresh take on what that galaxy could look like. (And no Jar-Jar Binks.)

160601TFA

Images: One Ring, by Шатилло Г.В. via Wikmedia; The Force Awakens still via IMBDb

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