Rename notice

So, as people who know me in multiple places might have figured out, my real online handle is "mneme". I'll use mnemex or mnemesys or whatnot when I can't get my root handle, but I do have a clear preference.

Until recently, my getting my preferred handle on livejournal was blocked by a user who created a single post and then vanished. But that account having been purged, I'm able to have my preferred handle here!
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    remembered blues

10 Things I learned from dancing the blues

So, [personal profile] drcpunk and I have been learning to blues dance recently. It's a lot of fun -- an improvisational lead/follow form with an emphasis on weight-shift-by-weight-shift lead and follow, tremendous enabled and allowed creativity, and a really active NYC scene.

Which means, it's time for...

Ten Things I learned (to do and not to do) from learning to dance the blues [where something's in brackets, it's actually -about- the blues]:

  1. Don't do anything extra--unless you want to. [don't assume a basic step; in blues, every weight-shift is lead--anything the follow does on top of them is their choice, not assumed]
  2. Don't just wave your arms around. Whatever you do, throw your whole body into it. [lead/move from the core]
  3. Don't anticipate. What goes in motion stays in motion until stopped, and stays stopped until started again--unless it -chooses- otherwise [particularly the follow].
  4. You pick what you want to follow--but then, follow it. [for leaders, pick the line in the music you want to dance to, and if you don't like where it leads you, switch; for follows, you -can- choose to ignore the lead and do your own thing, but know you're doing it.]
  5. Every relationship is equal, even when it doesn't seem like it all the time. [The follow is an -equal- partner, and is just as responsible to add to and contribute to the dance. I dance -so- much better with a good, and equal partner]
  6. Every action can--and often, should--be met by an equal and nearly opposite reaction. [blues connection, in particular, involves the follow always matching a push by a push, a tug by a tug. And I think this is good style for a lot of dance, actually, as it means there's always something to lead; if I'm completely relaxed, that's not important, but if I'm moving/tensing my arm and my partner's still relaxed, I lead and nothing happens]
  7. You shouldn't just follow a script--you have to express yourself too, or it's not really a conversation.
  8. Pay attention to your space. How you position yourself matters--you want to vary it, but you also want to choose at any given point what you want, where you are.
  9. In fact, pay attention to what you do. Time, tension, and positioning are all things you choose--and they all matter. You want to be choosing them actively, not passively. Do what you want, when you want--not just "any time."
  10. But in the end, live in the moment, and let it flow; don't overthink things!

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I just nominated for the pegasus! (and if you're a filker, you should too!)

Nominations end at midnight tonight!

My nominations:

Best Song:

Just beyond
One small boat
Solar flare
Dragon for sale

Best Classic Song:

A Gown too Blue
Storm Dancer
Following in Valentina's Footsteps
Mommy, Can I have a Spaceship
Second-Hand Songs

Best Performer:

Heather Dale
Lady Mondegreen
Sunny Larsen

Best Writer/Composer:

Ada Palmer
Andrew Ross
Betsy Tinny
Batya Wittenberg
Bob Kanefsky [Bob's only got one! And no other wins!]

Best Fairytale Song:

Little Beard Blue (yeah, I nominated myself. I couldn't help it--most of the brainstorm list wasn't what I consider fairy tale songs, and I was running out of nominees I could think of).
My Fairytale
Po Boys
"There's Always a Bigger Fish"
Miller's Daughter

Best Alien Song:
Queen of Air and Darkness (yes, this -seems- to be a fairy song. But it's actually about aliens just pretending to be fairies!)
Fly Little Bird (as revealed in Discount Armageddon, the Jhorlac (coocoos) are aliens from another dimension).
Alien Salad Abduction
Little Fuzzy Animals
Alien Jellyfish Song

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Draft Best Dramatic Presentation: Fan proposal

I'm planning on submitting something like the following to the LoneStarCon 3 (the quickly upcoming Worldcon) Business Meeting, as an attempt to create a Hugo that would be a better place for outstanding filk albums and shows, masquerade presentations, fannish videos and amateur movies, etc than where they currently end up being nominated -- Best Related Work or as doomed contenders for Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form.

So, a few questions:

1. Any suggestions for wording changes?

2. Anyone (who is a Supporting or Attending Member of LoneStarCon 3) interested in co-sponsoring?

3. When I raised the idea earlier this year on the SMOFS lists, one of the cogent requests I didn't have time to look into was for a list of works that would have been valid and worthy contenders for such an award over the last 5 (ish) years. I could probably compose such a list specifically for filk, but given that a filk category failed in the not-too-distant-to-be-remembered past, it's worth having a better populated list if one can.

Short Title: Best Dramatic Presentation (Fan)

Moved, to amend section 3.3 of the WSFS Constitution as follows:
Section 3.3.8: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form:
Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year, and does not qualify for Best Dramatic Presentation, Fan."
Section 3.3.7: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:
Any theatrical feature or other production, with a complete running time of more than 90 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year, and does not qualify for Best Dramatic Presentation, Fan.
Add a new section to 3.3 as follows:

Section 3.3.X: Best Dramatic Presentation, Fan: Any single work or collection of dramatic science fiction, fantasy, or related  subjects, in any medium (including audio or musical collections), which is either non-commercial or made by fans primarily for other fans, and that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year.

Provided that unless this amendment is re-ratified by the 2018 Business Meeting, Section 3.3.X and the changes to 3.3.8 and 3.3.9 shall be repealed, and
Provided that the question of re-ratification shall be automatically placed on the agenda of the 2018 Business Meeting with any constitutional amendments awaiting ratification.
Submitted by: Joshua Kronengold, Lisa Padol
Comments: Filk, and more recently, other geeky music, is a a core part of fandom deserving recognition, but has until now been unable to support a Hugo due to only a few standout albums being produced each year.  In addition, the adoption of the Best Fancast category has highlighted a significant gap in the Hugos -- we now recognize fan audio-visual efforts (which are easier and easier to produce and make available to a wide audience) that appear in a series -- but we have no way to recognize (except for nominating them to non-fan categories) fan dramatic presentations that are, instead, a single work -- such as masquerade presentations, filk albums, free online videos, fannish theatrical productions, and particularly dramatic bits of the Hugo Award ceremony itself.
Creating this award would also encourage the creators of such things to distribute recordings of their efforts, where possible -- which can only serve to benefit all of fandom.
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Housefilk! This Sunday!

There will be a housefilk this Sunday at the home of Ray Arnold

The Facebook event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1395187284031352

Bring your voices, instruments, and ears (but remember, this is filk, and everyone gets to play!).

Remember, local filk customs dictate that anyone can jam along; if you -want- to perform solo without additions from the audience, it's best that you tell people this up front. Also, our housefilks are usually recorded; again, if you don't want to be recorded, that can be arranged for with prior notice.

1-6pm, Sunday, July 28, 2013

Winterfell House
316 West 138th Street,
New York NY 10030

The site is accessible from either the C/B or 2/3 subway lines. Some (small) amount
of free parking nearby. It is also a brownstone, although the filk itself will be on a low floor.

There will be a short concom/NYMFO meeting afterwards for those who are interested.

Ice cream=yum Apple cinnamon ice cream = bigger, bigger yum

So, there's been a spate of small batch ice cream brands springing up. On the one hand, these are awesome -- relatively small companies, often making unusual flavors, support the little guy--plus the ice cream is a cut above even the previous top of the heap supermarket ice creams.

On the other hand, they've pushed the price of ice cream way up -- often to $5 and $7 a pint (!). And the biggest advantage they give is making unusual flavors.

So...it occurred to me that it -might-, just might, be time to get my own ice cream maker. A bit of research (actually, I think Amazon may have suggested it when I was looking for an insertion blender, but anyways) indicated that another device I own that hasn't gotten much use recently--our Kitchenaid stand mixer, had a bowl available that would make a perfectly good ice cream maker -- without having to buy another motor (a big pull for both the insertion blender, replacing our previous hand blender but having a massive lot of attachments, particularly a wisk and food processor).

My first attempt, yesterday, was...not so good. I somehow decided to try a relatively healthy recipe, but it involved custard--I've never made custard before--plus I made a bunch of dubious choices along the way (doubling the recipe--without having double all the ingredients, so I made some replacements and it didn't turn into full soft serve in the mixer...the result is a perfectly serviceable chocolate habinero sorbet (definitely dairy); edible, naturally, but aside from the fun flavor combination, not as good as ice cream that hasn't got too-large crystals.

So naturally, I decided to try again (with a different flavor) today -- apple cinnamon.

I made a few changes to my process:

1. I turned the freezer up to 4.5 (out of 5) from 3. The freezer would typically burn ice cream at 5, so I think 5 would be too much, but even at 24 hours, I thought the bowl could use a bit more cold.

2. I used a recipe that didn't involve custard (and isn't even a little bit healthy -- but the point was to make amazing ice cream, not healthy ice cream. Healthy is for portion control). Specifically, this recipe:

http://www.annies-eats.com/2011/07/08/vanilla-bean-ice-cream-two-ways-and-ice-cream-basics/ (quick summary: melt 3/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt into a cup of cream, add some flavoring if desired, then add another cup of cream, a cup of whole milk and fridge the result until cool. Then turn into ice cream with an ice cream machine or process of choice).

3. I made about half as much ice cream (eg, I didn't touch the quantities in the recipe at all; I'm guessing I ran out of cold last time as -one- of the several mistakes I made).

The result? Some of the best ice cream I've ever had -- and I've been to Jeni's, the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, and Baitcon. I'll have to see what it's like once it's been in the fridge for a day, but as fresh soft serve it's out of this world.

Changes I made to the above recipe:

1. Obviously, I replaced the vanilla with cinnamon. Instead of adding vanilla bean and extract, I added two teaspoons of cinnamon powder and dropped a cinnamon stick in the heated cream.

2. Looking for advice for creamy ice cream online, I saw one to put a bit of alcohol to prevent it from fully freezing -- so in went 2/3 of a tablespoon of Pyat rum after chilling the batter.

3. The apples. I chopped four Granny Smith apples, with peel, (food processed about an apple's worth and just sliced the rest), then popped the result into the microwave for a minute and fridged it before I started the batter. After the batter had decidedly turned into ice cream (in fact, at this point most of it was apparently clinging to the dasher, I added apple bits and apple mash (what the finely chopped apples had turned into after their visit to the inside of the microwave) until the bowl was nearly full, and let the kitchenaid mix the result (spinning at speed 2, now) for another minute or three.

I'm pretty much having to write to restrain myself from sampling more of the soft serve in the freezer (fortunately, there -is- some stuck to the dasher still, but [personal profile] drcpunk has been making some headway there as well, so I don't have much time).

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A Dialogue on filk/fandom, guests, and community. And dialogue

Had a short dialogue with gundo on the nature of fandom, coming out of my musing on running a con (did I mention? No, I didn't--yet--but I'm running a con, and it will be -fabulous-) and occasionally having to -un-delegate, which I figured was worthy of wider distribution. "mneme" is, naturally, yours truly.

mneme: I have very mixed feelings towards the hotel/guest liaison positions, as having someone focused on making the hotel/guests happy = good, but having another step in the game of telephone between the rest of the concom and these ever-important externalities = bad

gundo: at a larger con, I believe those are necessary, but the size of the NE cons...

mneme: Indeed. A larger con also has a larger pool to troll for someone with the combination of knowledge and proactiveness you really need for a good liaison. But they also have (potentially, anyway) a lot more guests, and not a presumption that most of the concom already know some or all the guests.

gundo: Well, and at the larger cons the guests aren't part of the larger family, whereas here they are

mneme: Indeed. Well, sometimes they aren't--but filk overall is a much smaller community, and, yes, we pull guests from that community rather than across a (however artificial) "pro" barrier. (something that sf fandom in general also resists, but..it gets complicated).

gundo: Very complicated

mneme: Yes. In general, fandom favors GOHs who are part of the fannish community, if on the pro side. But there are exceptions--and someone who is fan/pro and treated as such in one area is still going to be a superstar in another where they're less well known.

gundo: Well, there are a lot of us who are in the filk community who are pro in some way

mneme: Indeed. The filk community -also- has a pro/fan barrier, although it's even thinner than in literary fandom for a number of reasons. But with the exception of segmented GOH items like the GAFilk "Super Secret Guest", we don't even -think- to pull from outside the community (if often Pro-side people known and known to be within the community ). This is, I think, because Filk defines itself as "within the filk community" -- whereas sf defines itself primarily as "within the dialogue of science fiction" and the literary fandom/convention-going communities is within and appreciative of (as well as in dialogue with) the larger community.

gundo: Right...there's that definition of filk as community, vs filk as style or content

mneme: *nod* It's very telling. And I think a lot of that -is- dialogue. Something is part of a folk tradition if and only if it is in dialogue with other things within that tradition -- just as a work is genre sf only if it is in dialogue with the body of sf works (and when a sf work gets written that is -not- in dialogue with the sf genre, this is often painfully obvious).

gundo: As long as there is ongoing dialogue, then yes, it works

mneme: Indeed. A one-sided "dialogue" can go south, very quickly, particularly when it's perceived differently from both sides.

mneme: Ah, true. And yeah, the whole dysfunctional fannish community thing can be...bad. Some of that is that different people can have really different idea of what a community, well, means.

gundo: Yeah, that's true as well

mneme: Particularly when you're looking at communities built out of geography vs ones based on association and common interests. I mean, one of the reasons that Merav and I are pretty good choices for leadership in the NYC filk community is that we're both in close dialogue the the more global filk community, rather than mostly/primarily in the local area. But that also means we'll have some closer relationships with people across the country than ones with some of those in the local filk community.

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So, I've long been a fan of Jenna Moran's (formerly Rebecca Borgstrom) fiction and freeform rpg, Nobilis. So naturally, I contributed to her (currently running) kickstarter, Chuubo's Magical Wish Granting Engine. Which is as awesome as a plot-oriented RPG about a boy who makes (often ill advised) wishes can be, and if you're interested in it, you should support it, but that's not what I came here to write about.

No -- instead, one of the backer rewards for Chuubos is an expansion for Nobilis, 3rd edition, on Treasure, called "The Book of Treasure". Treasure is one of the new stats in Nobilis 3rd -- it represents your ability to connect to people -- and to connect to -stuff-; both to have a favorite aunt who is important and helpful in your story, and to have a really nice car, or a magic sword that can cut anything, or a pet cat who follows you everywhere.

So, there are a lot of awesome things about this book. It both expands on every element of Treasure (so far; I'm only 22 pages into a 49 page book), and gives design notes for -why- various things are the way they are in the game -- for instance, it explains that the reason making anchors (connected people and things) is a level 0 miracle is because the designer -wants- people making connections, even if they're not heavily invested in the idea of Treasure.

But the thing that inspired me to post tonight is where it talks about abilities -- particularly Treasure -- that follow an absolute. Being as strong as you need to be. A sword that can cut -anything-. Omni-corrupting artifacts, or hats that shield you from corruption.

In other words, powers that start forum arguments rather than ending them--as people argue whether the Hulk being stronger than anyone beats only Thor being strong enough to lift Molnjir.

What Jenna points out, quite successfully, is that arguments like that -- powers like that -- particularly when they work -- are not arguments about rules. They're metaphors -- and moral arguments that center around the metaphor, not about any particular rule.

The Hulk isn't just "the strongest guy around". He's the superhero that represents the limitless strength of righteous rage. The One Ring isn't just infinitely corrupting (although it is) -- it represents that principle that power itself corrupts without providence and faith in Eru [that is, god]. Superman isn't just as strong as he needs to be (although he is); his is the strength of the pure heart taht acts from unsullied motives.

As such, when two "unlimited" powers clash, what determines what wins (ideally) -- what -should- determine what wins--isn't a number like how many tons the Hulk can lift or who has a bigger stat. Instead, it's the right solution to the moral question posed by their metaphors in the situation. Clark Kent should lose to the limitless power of conquest represented by Apocalypse when his heart is divided and his moral fevor weak -- but win if he's resolved his dilemma and acts from pure motives. The Hulk should defeat many other limitless powers, even that of war, but may prove powerless, in the right situation, against someone representing the power of calm.

This is why, Jenna explains, the rank of a Treasure miracle doesn't determine which one wins; instead, the rank determines the scope of the miracle--how many different things you can do with Treasure--but in a contest between absolutes, what should win is the thing that's won the battle of metaphors.

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Resturant Review: La Vie en Szechuan

La Vie en Szechuan, 14 East 33rd Street, New York, NY, 10016

There have been a succession of mediocre resturants in the spot across the street from the Complete Strategist. However, a few months ago, I noticed that the new place appeared to be an authentic Szechuan place--and a fairly popular one, at that. So naturally, being who we are, [personal profile] drcpunk and I resolved to visit La Vie at the next opportunity.

We didn't, of course, do so as soon as we could have, mostly because we'd also wanted to to hit Hot Kitchen (which is also quite good, if more in the Grand Sichuan mode than La Vie is) in person rather than just takeout. But tonight, as it happened, it was on our route home, so off we went.

It was great. Not cheap--but not awful, either (we ordered 3 cold dishes and a tea smoked duck (for $18) and it came to $56 with tip.

First, the menu. It's full of appetizing pictures of authentic food--and from what I saw on our plates and those of the (mostly Chinese) diners around us, totally accurate. This place is certainly paying attention to presentation, but our food, at least, was also delicious.

So, food we got:

The tea smoked duck: Came with three soft buns, and tasted the way tea smoked duck should taste.

Cold dishes ("Appetizers"--hot appetizers are "signature appetisers"):

Sliced beef in chili paste: Lovely and spicy; definitely provided most of the heat in the meal, and very tasty. Unannounced, but welcome by us were some chinese eggplants hidden in the mix.

Chicken in sczechuan pepper sauce: this was served in a spicy and sour green sauce, and tasted very different (but also really good) sauce than the beef in chili paste.

Spring Bamboo shoots in sessame oil: This, like the duck, wasn't spicy, but it had its own tang from the vegitables in the sauce (scallions, maybe garlic) and we had the chili paste confusing our senses. Also really tasty--we love well made bamboo shoot dishes.

Have to go back--the menu is huge, and really varied. Would love to go back with more people so we can get more of a range.

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