sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
I don't feel like I have a lot to report about my life lately, but I am trying not to disappear. The first half of today was primarily characterized by being terrible and the second half included stressful financial errands, but also a really good bagel (chased with a donut, so that it took me until dinner to eat something that was not toroidal), driving a car for the first time in nearly ten years (around a parking lot, because I didn't want anybody to die, but it was surprising and reassuring how much I had not forgotten), making a double batch of brownies with a heavy concentration of chocolate chips and sour cherries, and curling up with [personal profile] spatch to watch Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings (1939), a late birthday present courtesy of Criterion's half-off sale last week. I truly love that movie and need to write about it one of these days. I need to do a lot of things, like sleep more and not be in so much pain.
osprey_archer: (books)
[personal profile] osprey_archer
It's been a long day (good! But long!) and I am pretty tired, but I wanted to knock off this post about Joseph Had a Little Overcoat before going to bed. The book (which won the 2000 Caldecott award) is based on a Yiddish folk song, about a man who had an overcoat which wore out... so he cut it down into a jacket... and then a vest... and then a scarf... and so on till it was just a button, and then he lost it, and that was the end of the overcoat, until he made this song about, so I guess that means the overcoat lives on forever in a way.

I feel like I've heard a retelling of this song in the context of American pioneers, except it wasn't presented as a retelling at all, but as a fact of life about living in a world of homespun: cloth is expensive so you use it till you've twisted every last dreg of life out of it. Maybe it's not a retelling really, but a convergence? People all around the world cut down their old clothes to get more use out of the good bits, and told stories about it...

In any case. This is a particularly Jewish telling of that tale, and quite charming. (My favorite little detail: the discarded newspaper with the headline "Fiddler on Roof Falls Off Roof.") The illustrations are sort of collage-y, with die-cut bits so that, say, you turn the page and the holes will frame just the parts of the coat necessary to make the jacket - which I think would charm me more if I hadn't spent time working in book repair: now I just look at them and quietly have vapors about how easily damaged these die-cuts are. You are giving children a book that is pre-holed, just imagine what damage they will in all innocence do when they stick their clumsy little fingers through.
selenay: (Default)
[personal profile] selenay
Femslash reveals have been made! So I can reveal that I wrote this little thing :-)

Stumbling Toward Enlightenment (8992 words) by [ profile] Selenay
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Supergirl (TV 2015), DC's Legends of Tomorrow (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Sara Lance/Lena Luthor
Characters: Sara Lance, Lena Luthor
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - No Powers, Alternate Universe - Yoga, Lena Luthor Needs a Hug, Bisexual Female Character, Yoga Instructor Sara Lance, Reluctant CEO Lena Luthor, Romance, Girls Kissing, Happy Ending
Summary: Sara Lance is a yoga instructor. Lena Luthor is CEO of Luthor Industries.

They're from different worlds, but they might just be exactly what each other needs.
evelyn_b: (oliver)
[personal profile] evelyn_b
I really don't have anything to report this week on the reading front - I've just started Death on the Nile, and otherwise I've been bouncing around in my hamster wheel of procrastination, work, and insomnia. Next week will probably be better! I know I said the same thing last week, but I live in hope.

However, there is this:

[personal profile] lost_spook made a mystery community and I for one am excited. I know I don't particularly look it today, but I am.

New toy!

23 Oct 2017 07:36 pm
selenay: (Default)
[personal profile] selenay
So, it arrived! My new MacBook Pro is here and it's what I'm tying this update from :-) So far, I've got things like Safari bookmarks set up, figured out a little bit about how the Finder works for finding files, and reformatted an external hard-drive for Time Machine. So at least I've got a back-up before I do anything awful to my new toy!

It's incredibly shiny and pretty. I keep petting it. Nice MacBook. Good MacBook.

I feel like there's a ton I need to learn before I'm really proficient here, but at least it's here and I can learn now :-)

OMG, I bought a really pretty computer!

(I'm sure I'll be documenting this a LOT.)

Birthday post

23 Oct 2017 06:27 pm
elisi: (Bill curious)
[personal profile] elisi
Hello all.

I *think* I have managed to reply to all posts/messages. (If I have missed anyone, please let me know!)

Had a very lovely day yesterday - we went down to Cambridge to see Miss M, so after a lovely breakfast & opening cards/presents we were out of the door a little after 9am.

After having a wander around the town (and buying a couple of things) we went and had a picnic lunch which Darcy had prepared earlier. (As it was a cold and windy day, we had the picnic in Miss M's room.)

We then went to the Botanical Gardens, where it was Apple Day ([personal profile] the_royal_anna will know which this was a particular draw), but it was interesting (and very pretty) apart from that.

Had a nice 'tea' from Dominos and then set off back home. But twas a lovely day, with all my girls. ♥

And then this afternoon one of my oldest childhood friends came to visit with husband and children. The children are 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 and adorable, so it was a very nice afternoon. :)

It seems I love books )



On the BBC's website

On the Doctor Who website


Delightful Spike/Angel vid by [profile] double_duchess that I happened to come across:

I Hate You


Am also watching Victoria, but way behind (tend to watch episodes a day or two before the disappear off ITVPlayer). However it keeps being as wonderful as before, and honestly I could watch them forever. (Just watched the one where they go to France, so no spoilers beyond that please.)

Also watching The Good Place and have started on iZombie on Netflix (Dr Ravi is my new favourite everything). Not that they aren't all brilliant, and it does so many things I appreciate. <3

And that's all for now, should probably go interact with the world, even if most of my friends live in my computer. Thank you all for just being you. ♥

FIC:Bump in the Night

23 Oct 2017 03:00 pm
unsentimentalf: (Default)
[personal profile] unsentimentalf
Title: Bump in the Night
Author: [personal profile] unsentimentalf
Word Count 895
Rating: Gen
Characters: Kerr Avon, Roj Blake, Orac, Zen
Prompt: Written for B7Friday prompt Ghosts and ghouls (and things that go bump in the night)
Notes: Look, it's almost really short!

Bump in the night )

Last chance to get your bids in

23 Oct 2017 02:23 pm
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Bidding at [community profile] fandomlovespuertorico closes today (thanks to [personal profile] sholio for the heads-up).
hamsterwoman: (Default)
[personal profile] hamsterwoman
We watched Spider-Man: Homecoming over the weekend, and it was ADORABLE. O had seen it already, in theaters with friends, but L and I had not; I really wanted to, and L, who is mostly indifferent to MCU and superhero movies, but kind of wanted to see this one, because she found "Spider-Twerp" funny in 'Civil War'. We all really enjoyed it. I was trying to decide whether I'd liked it more, the same, or less as Ant-Man, which is currently my third favorite MCU movie (after Iron Man and Avengers Assemble), and I'm still not totally sure -- I probably need more distance -- but L and O both said they liked it more. Spoilers from here! )


This once more leads thematically into the next installment of the Kairos 30 Days Meme:

Seven favorite actors

7. Kevin Smith )
6. Veniamin Smekhov )
5. Robert Downey Jr )
4. Morgan Freeman )
3. Chris Pine )
2. Ian Mckellen )
1. Harrison Ford )
Honorable mention: Stanley Tucci )
sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
[personal profile] sovay
So while I had known for some time about Dolly Wilde, Oscar's niece, I had somehow never heard of the fellow ambulance driver with whom she had an affair in WWI Paris, Joe Carstairs. I am going to be neutral about their pronouns because I don't want to get them wrong—all the sources I'm finding treat Carstairs as female, and it's pretty narrow to think that short hair, tattoos, tailored suits, and speedboats automatically make a man, or at least not a woman, but when a person renames themselves "Joe" from "Marion" and says of themselves, "I was never a little girl. I came out of the womb queer," I feel I should try to take them at their word. It's easy to see why they attract biographers and Tumblr posts. The part where they ran an all-female driving service in London—"X Garage"—is pretty great. The part where they were the only one of Marlene Dietrich's lovers to call her "babe" and live is amazing. The part where they bought an island in the Bahamas and effectively ruled it for forty years is like something out of Conrad, which is a little harder to enthuse about, but it definitely is different.

Everybody else thought so, so I thought so, too. I would have liked me. )

And twenty minutes ago I'd had no idea. I love the people that history contains.

Loving Vincent

22 Oct 2017 09:40 pm
osprey_archer: (art)
[personal profile] osprey_archer
This afternoon I popped over to the theater to watch Loving Vincent, which is an animated movie about Vincent van Gogh which was created, the first titles helpfully inform us, by over one hundred artists working in oil paint. It is the first animated movie ever done in oils, and quite possibly it will be the last - I imagine the costs involved were tremendous - which is too bad, because I would love to see oil paint animations based on the works of, oh, Monet perhaps, or Renoir. I could easily imagine some sweet dreamy fantasy set among Monet's works.

Also, although the animation is gorgeous, I do think they were still working out the kinks of the animating-in-oil-paint process and it sometimes gives the film a distracting jerkiness. But perhaps it's just that it's quite unlike anything else I've ever seen, and that in itself is distracting? Only more films would give me the opportunity to tell...

Anyway! The film is set about a year after van Gogh's death. Armand Roulin's father tasks him with delivering a letter that Vincent wrote to his brother Theo but never mailed - only for Armand to discover that Theo, too, has died. So Armand heads to Auvers, where Vincent died, in the hopes of asking his doctor where he might find Theo's widow - which somehow metamorphoses into an attempt to recreate Vincent's last days, and answer the question of why he killed himself. If he killed himself.

I must confess I felt skeptical when the film took this turn. I went through something of a van Gogh phase in college (his doomed friendship with Gauguin hit me where I lived), and nothing in my reading suggested that there was any controversy about how he died. He shot himself in the fields where he was painting, using a revolver that he brought along to scare away the crows, and then dragged himself back to the house where he was staying and died there two days later after telling everyone that he shot himself.

HOWEVER, upon repairing to Wikipedia I have discovered that in 2011 (in short, after my van Gogh interest waned) two academics published a book in which they argued that maybe van Gogh was accidentally shot by a rich spoiled teenage hooligan who liked to run around Auvers dressed as a cowboy and menace people with a gun - and van Gogh said he did it himself to... shield the miscreant, I guess? I don't know, I think this kind of theory was slightly more plausible when someone argued that Gauguin was the one who cut off Vincent's ear (in a fight, not just for funzies, I feel I should clarify), and Vincent said he did it himself to cover for him. At least we know for a fact that van Gogh was unhealthily invested in his friendship with Gauguin. Why's he going to cover for the random cowboy kid?

But I did like that the structure allows the filmmakers' to show Vincent from multiple angles (through the eyes of his paint dealer, his landlord's daughter, his doctor...) and forces Armand to think more about his own attitudes toward van Gogh - whom he didn't give a damn about in life. He saw Vincent as weird and kind of alarming, and now he wishes that he had seen his loneliness and understood and befriended him.

I have read other stories where the main character learns more about someone after their death (Olive's Ocean comes to mind) and goes, oh, I wish I'd known they were so lonely, we could have been friends - but I'm not sure that actually works; I'm not sure you can force yourself to be friends with someone just because you know they need a friend. I would think there needs to be something else there beyond just sympathy - some kind of esteem or respect or something - to make it a true friendship rather than just pity.

Also, I think that when people learn this sort of thing about someone who is still alive, their reaction is rarely "Oh, we should be friends!" - because the person is alive, that would demand a real investment of time and emotion and energy. This is why sadness makes fictional characters mysterious and fascinating but can be off-putting in real people: a fictional character is never going to stop speaking to you for three months because you said the wrong thing that one time and touched off a downward spiral and how dare you be anything less than a constant wellspring of undemanding support.

TL:DR, this movie hit me in a weird place because when I was younger I invested really hard in the importance of Being There for your friends during their mental health issues, which might have worked out better for me if I were better at setting boundaries, or had fewer friends with mental health issue, or knew when the fuck to just let someone go. I burned the fuck out and now when I watch Armand having this "Why didn't I see that he was in trouble? Why didn't I try to help?" crisis I want to shout at the screen, "BECAUSE YOU HAVE SENSIBLE BOUNDARIES, ARMAND, DON'T GUILT YOURSELF OUT OF THAT."


22 Oct 2017 08:02 pm
settiai: (D&D -- settiai)
[personal profile] settiai
Wow. This weekend has been an absolute roller coaster when it comes to D&D. Rambling under the cut. )


22 Oct 2017 07:34 pm
settiai: (Keyleth -- settiai)
[personal profile] settiai
So... as those of you who follow me on Twitter know, I accidentally adopted a new cat last weekend. Oops?

Long story short: one of my coworkers has a teenage son who's in college. Said son adopted a cat back in the spring, decided over summer vacation that she was too much work, and left her with his parents when he went back to school. His mom is severely allergic to cats. They tried keeping her for a few weeks, but my coworker's wife ended up in the emergency room unable to breathe because of it, so the cat ended up with me somewhat unexpectedly.

(I'd volunteered to take her, on the condition that WWIII didn't break out in my apartment when I tried introducing a third cat to the mix, but it was something that was tentative and wasn't planned for at least several more weeks. Then I got a phone call last Saturday night asking if my coworker could come by the next morning.)


Everyone, meet Keyleth (also known as Kiki.)

Garrus and Percy have been fine with her from the beginning. They've definitely been more curious than anything else. She, on the other hand, has been a little more wary. At this point, she's just starting to get used to being in a new environment with two much-larger-than-her cats around. (Kiki's approximately two years old, but she's tiny. Even smaller than Tali was, which is saying something.)

So far, so good. I left them alone without shutting anyone up in the bedroom for the first time earlier today, while I played D&D over at the game store near my place, and the apartment was still standing when I got home. Kiki's still somewhat wary of Garrus and Percy, but the worst she's done is hiss and go pout under the bed for a little while before coming back out. And neither of them seems to be taking offense to it, so they're just leaving her be for a bit when she gets to that point.

(no subject)

22 Oct 2017 03:21 pm
lycomingst: (anya wedding)
[personal profile] lycomingst
Netflix movie Telstar: The Joe Meek Story )

Nothing much happened this week because I kept getting up in the morning and going back to bed an hour later to sleep most of the day away. I have no idea why I was so sleepy. I did, however, at one point make the best chicken stock I’ve ever made.

Meme, cause everybody’s doin’ it.

Without looking beneath the cut, pick five fandoms.

The Office (US)
Mad Men
Midsomer Murders

Now, answer the questions…

Read more... )

(no subject)

22 Oct 2017 09:21 pm
jekesta: Franky Doyle's prisoner picture (Franky)
[personal profile] jekesta
Spoilers for the latest episode of MacGyver. )

Food from Gousto )

The gousto website is here if you want to try them yourself. My code is embedded in there. If you use it you'll get 50% off your first two boxes, and I get a bit of money off my next box too. The cheapest boxes have two meals for two, and will cost about £25, so at half price you'll get four meals for £13. Which is not bad, and honestly the food is Very Lovely.

It looks at first a bit like one of those things where you have to sign up to get food all the time every week - you very much don't. I just get a box now and then, when I can't think of ANYTHING to cook or when there is money in my account. (Delivery is really easy because they come in boxes that stay refrigerated for anywhere up to 24 hours. They just leave mine in the back garden for me for when I get home from work.)

Harvey Weinstein

It's so frustrating watching some of the reactions to the whole Harvey Weinstein thing. Because obviously it's brilliant, and I do think it might make a tiny start to a slow steady change in a fucked up fucked up fucked up industry. But oh god you can just see and watch in real time as it doesn't quite stick and people shy away from it.

People go 'oh wow that man is TERRIBLE' and you wait, and they go '...and if he's terrible, oh god, maybe, you don't think, might, maybe might those other three men be terrible too??????' and you wait, and you get '...oh my god I can't believe it's so many men, like that entire section of men over there is awful, I'm so shocked...' and you wait, and you're hopeful, and you're waiting. 'I've really loved seeing all the wonderful things some guys have been posting on twitter, it really gives me hope...' No. Stop it. Fuck off. They're doing a bare minimum and they probably don't mean it, that's literally the whole point of the story, that men support this whole system, it's dicks all the way down. You can't just hate the three men at the top of a pyramid of terrible men, and then feel like you achieved anything. I know 'feminists don't hate men' sounds all very good and everything, but...

I'm too tired to write this properly. I just don't know why women find it so hard to hate men. Men find it so easy to hate women.

I'm too tired to disclaim.

due south series 1

22 Oct 2017 01:32 pm
aralias: (due south)
[personal profile] aralias
a while ago i wrote some very quick thoughts about every episode of star trek TNG. this is that... but with dS. interestingly, despite star trek being the classic, and being super awesome (obviously), due south is more consistent. there haven't really been any episodes that out right suck. at all. most episodes rock.

so why isn't this show a super classic that we are currently talking about rebooting? it's got everything! heroism, friendship, moral dilemmas, mounties, magical realism - EVERYTHING.

series 1 - in which our hero arrives in the windy city )

(no subject)

22 Oct 2017 04:46 am
justice_turtle: Robot Jack from Stargate SG-1, captioned "fergit space adventure, we gonna do Shakespeare" (fergit space adventure)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
I got partway through second season on my latest rewatch of Stargate SG-1 before I had to stop for eyestrain, so I am summarizing some of my notes here for better findability next time I take a stab at it.

Read more... )

Femslash fic (and not posting)

22 Oct 2017 01:10 pm
paranoidangel: PA (Default)
[personal profile] paranoidangel

I haven't posted for a while. This was mainly because Dreamwidth changing to https broke all the crossposting plugins. So it meant that I had to manually copy the posts from LJ, which was too much of a pain to be bothered with.

There are two plugins which are both based off an old one and haven't been updated for years. They still don't work with DW, but I am still using the same one to crosspost to LJ, so if you read there, you won't notice any difference. For DW I have a new plugin that crossposts to hundreds of places, but doesn't do any LJ/DW specific stuff. So if you're reading this on DW you'll see extra spaces between paragraphs. And if I use a more tag at any point you'll get even more spacing, rather than a cut tag.

I tried looking at both plugins to see if I could edit some things from one into another, but the new one is so long, because it does so much that Kate (KDW Linux equivalent of Notepad++) complained about it, and I decided I had better things to do with my time. For now, this is better than manually crossposting.

I wrote a fic for [info]femslashex:

Military Interference (2630 words) by paranoidangel

Fandom: Doctor Who (2005), Sarah Jane Adventures

Relationships: Kate Lethbridge-Stewart/Sarah Jane Smith

Summary: Sarah Jane and Kate have to save themselves from aliens and settle a score.

One of the things [info]selenay talked about was Sarah disliking military interference. So I decided the best place for Sarah and Kate to talk about it was in a cell on an alien spaceship heading away from Earth. And then I went "Shit! How do I get them out of this?" Which is generally how I write plot: get them into a mess and have no idea how to get them out of it.

Mirrored from my blog

aralias: (eight hero shot)
[personal profile] aralias
having one of the low writing moments of the year. currently trying to put together some words for the new edition of 'the way forward', but even as i'm writing stuff like 'this is so exciting - it's not too late for me to part of a literal apa that comes through the literal post', i'm also thinking - it is too late but because of me, rather than because of the zine. if this was a year ago, or two years ago, i'd be writing you LOADS of stuff about what roj blake thinks about his life, etc. what i have written about instead is fandom, but it's been hard going.

writing this post because i thought there should be some posts on my livejournal. maybe i will write some more thoughts about due south, but in a separate post. we're about mid series 2. it's still good, though paul haggis has stopped writing. a thing that i did not expect at all has happened - but there's less fall out than i would have expected from this show as well.

about a month ago we went to the RSC costume jumble sale in stratford upon avon. if you like the thrill of the chase, shakespeare, and accumulating useless tat, and you get the opportunity to go, you should DEFINITELY go. it was very exciting. three massive rooms of period and modern costumes, all incredibly cheap. we bought three bin bags of stuff (i love accumulating useless tat) and had to lug it around stratford for the rest of the day until the cloak room for the midday matinee blessedly opened. our swag included a doublet, several pairs of shoes (period, and modern), a dress worn by guenievere in a production of the morte d'arthur (although alas, only an under dress - but i was like: i love arthur! i must have), a silk tudor-style dress, some silly hats, and some jumpers. i started to write about this right now, because i am currently wearing one of the jumpers while i sit here, still in my pyjamas, typing this post to you from sunday morning. it's this one from arden of faversham. very sexy, obviously. cleaning lady chic. it's quite nice though.

i only know where it's from, btw, as all the costumes have tags inside them, which is another nice feature. i haven't seen this play.

i've been playing lots of board games, obviously. in the maths trade we received: kingdom builder, brass, lords of xidit, and mottanai. unfortunately brass and xidit need LOTS of people, so not only have i not played them, i dont think we're likely to play them soon.

also - if you are interested in spending money to acquire semi-useful tat (by which i mean board games) you might like to take a look at the near and far: amber mines kickstarter - which closes on the 4th november. i LOVE 'near and far' (my favourite game of the moment) AND 'above and below' and quickly pledged to get all the extras, which includes new stories and cool stuff for both games. tonnes of stretch goals have been unlocked already, including co-op mode, which we've been sent as a print and play to play now! you can also buy the original game through the kickstarter, but then you'd have to WAIT.

anyway - i recommend it.
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Politico: Young subscribers flock to old media

What's particularly fascinating is the way in which it's directly correlated with people wanting to support news organizations as a way to resist Trump:

“The big boost we saw in subscriptions in the U.S.,” Newman said, “is driven by people on the left and younger people are more likely to be on the left. That is really a lot of what’s driving it: young people who don’t like Trump who subscribe to news organizations that they see as being a bulwark against him.”

Keep up the good work!

(no subject)

21 Oct 2017 10:48 pm
justice_turtle: Millennium Falcon captioned "Fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy" (fastest hunk of junk)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
I just finished reading A Night in the Lonesome October, by Roger Zelazny. I liked it; very clever, very twisty. (Years ago, I attempted to read it day-by-day according to its structure, but I have not the attention span for that, so I read it this time in one go.)

Random spoilery thoughts:

Read more... )

I think I should like to read some more Zelazny. Has anyone recommendations? The library appears to possess an assortment.

(I have also recently read Rose Daughter, on Ursula Vernon's recommendation from the intro to Bryony and Roses, but nothing about it made me think I would especially want to read more Robin McKinley. I think her style is not a thing that works for me.)
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
Today was very pleasant but very tiring. It has been a sleepless week, most of yesterday was a migraine, and I feel exhausted to the point of stupidity. In lieu of a movie I really need my brain for, here's one I can talk about while wanting to pass out.

Last October I watched but never wrote about Norman Foster's Woman on the Run (1950), a famously near-lost noir painstakingly restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Film Noir Foundation and released last year onto home media as a double bill with Byron Haskin's Too Late for Tears (1949). Part of the delay is that I liked but did not love the former film as I did the latter with its stone cold antiheroine and uncompromising final shot; this one suffers more from the congealing sexism of the nascent Fifties and as a result its emotional resolution leaves a tacky taste on my teeth and an inchoate longing for the advent of no-fault divorce. If you can bear with its limitations, however, Woman on the Run is worth checking out as a thoughtfully layered mystery and a fantastic showcase for Ann Sheridan as an unapologetically bitchy, unsentimentally sympathetic protagonist, a rare combination in Hollywood even now.

The 1948 source short story by Sylvia Tate was titled "Man on the Run" and the film begins with one: late-night dog-walker Frank Johnson (Ross Elliott) who takes a powder on learning that the murder he conscientiously reported—and witnessed at close enough range to know the killer again—was connected to a high-profile mob trial. A failed artist with a bad heart and a marriage that's been on the rocks almost since it launched, he looks tailor-made for the dark city, a loser coming up on his final throw. The camera doesn't follow him into the night-maze of San Francisco, though, to face or keep running from his demons in the kind of psychomachia at which an expressionist genre like noir so excels; instead the point of view switches almost at once to his estranged wife Eleanor (Sheridan), wearily deflecting the inquiries of the hard-nosed Inspector Ferris (Robert Keith, who will always look like Lieutenant Brannigan to me) with flat sarcastic cracks and an indifference so apparently genuine and total, it can take the audience a beat to recognize the depths of anger and resignation that underlie lines like "No, sometimes he goes to sleep and I walk the dog." Ever since Max Ophüls' The Reckless Moment (1949), I have been wary of assuming the limits of women in noir, but Eleanor still stands out for me in her flippant, abrasive intelligence and her willingness to look bad—she knows it shocks the conservative inspector that she isn't all housewifely concern for her man and she needles him with it, referring to the dog as their "only mutual friend" and dismissing the bare kitchen with "He's not particular and I'm lazy, so we eat out." Faced with the possibility that Frank has taken his brush with the underworld as an excuse to run out on his marriage, she's more than half inclined to let him. But she's not inclined to let him get killed, especially not playing star witness for a police force whose last star witness got whacked while Frank was watching, and so in the best traditions of amateur detecting, complete with dubious Watson in the form of "Legget of the Graphic" (Dennis O'Keefe), the flirty tabloid reporter who offered his services plus a thousand-dollar sweetener in exchange for exclusive rights to Frank's story, Eleanor sets out to find her missing husband before either the killer or a duty-bound Ferris can. He's left her a clue to his whereabouts, a cryptic note promising to wait for her "in a place like the one where I first lost you." In a relationship full of quarrels and frustrations, that could be anywhere, from their favorite Chinese hangout to the wharves of his "social protest period" to the tower viewers at the top of Telegraph Hill. Let the investigations begin.

I like this setup, which gives us the city as memory palace after all: Eleanor's memories of her relationship with Frank, what it was like when it was good and where it failed and how it might be reclaimed again, if she can only find him alive. She is almost being asked to perform a spell. And while I suppose she could have done it on the sympathetic magic of a Hollywood backlot, it is much more satisfying to watch her revisit real statues and sidewalks, real crowds unaware of the private earthquake taking place in their midst. Hal Mohr's cinematography is a street-level document of San Francisco in 1950, with a cameo by our old friend Bunker Hill; he can organize shadows and angles as effectively as the next Oscar-winning DP when he needs to, but he keeps the majority of the action on the daylit side of noir, the lived-in, working-class city with Navy stores and department stores and parks and piers and diners and lots of California sun, which only looks like it shows you everything. The literal roller-coaster climax was filmed at Ocean Park Pier/Pacific Ocean Park, last seen on this blog in Curtis Harrington's Night Tide (1960). Back at the Johnsons' bleak, hotel-like apartment, Eleanor mocked Ferris for "snoop[ing] into the remains of our marriage," but increasingly it seems not to be as cold a case as she thought. Going back over old ground, she discovers new angles on her missing person; nondescript in his introductory scenes and ghostly in his own life, Frank Johnson becomes vivid in absence, hovering over the narrative like Harry Lime in Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949) or the title character of Otto Preminger's Laura (1944) until his wife begins to see a curiously attractive stranger in the place of a man whose familiarity had long since bred hopelessness. To fall in love with someone who might already be dead, to find someone in the process of losing them, these are the kinds of irony that noir thrives on and Woman on the Run derives as much tension from the audience's fear that irony will carry the day as it does from the actual unknowns of the plot, the killer's identity, Frank's status, Eleanor's own safety as her sleuthing calls for ever more active deception of the police and reliance on Legget, who keeps saying things like "I'm sorry I was so rude a moment ago, but it's always discouraging to hear a wife say that her husband loves her." He is another unexpected element, not without precedent but nicely handled. In most genres, his pushy charm and his genial stalking of Eleanor would mark him as the romantic hero, or at least an appealing alternative to a husband so avoidant he couldn't even tell his own wife when he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. Here, with a triangle already established between Eleanor and the husband she knows and the husband she doesn't, the reporter is a fourth wheel at best and the audience hopes he accepts it. Without a reciprocating spark, it's not as cute as he thinks when he encourages Eleanor to call him "Danny Boy" ("People who like me call me Danny Boy") or leads her casually under the same wooden coaster where he used to bring dates, his contribution perhaps to the film's romantic psychogeography.

Honestly, I don't even dislike the resolution on the strict level of plot. By the time Eleanor realizes that the place where I first lost you isn't a bitter dig at a bad memory but a hopeful allusion to a good one, the audience is sufficiently invested in the reunion of these long-fractured lovers—despite the fact that we've never once seen them together, even in photographs or Frank's sketches and paintings—that to frustrate it would feel deliberately unfair, although of course in noir that never rules anything out. They're both taking chances, not just with their lives but their hearts. Frank who always runs away is standing his ground, risking being found by a gunman and a partner he's disappointed. Eleanor who has built such prickly defenses is lowering them, making herself reach out rather than preemptively rebuff. You want to see that kind of bravery rewarded, even when heart conditions and prowling killers aren't involved. What I dislike in the extreme is the film's attitude toward this conclusion. In its examination of the Johnsons' marriage, the facts of the script assign plenty of blame to Frank, an artist too scared of failure to try for success, a husband who retreated from his wife as soon as he felt that he'd let her down, a man who could talk about his feelings to everyone but the woman he was living with. The dialogue, however, insists repeatedly that the ultimate success or collapse of a marriage is the woman's responsibility—that it must be Eleanor's fault that her marriage went south, that she wasn't patient or understanding or supportive enough, that she has to be the one to change. It's implied in some of her encounters; in others it's stated outright. Inspector Ferris constantly judges her as a wife and a woman, even once asking "Didn't your husband ever beat you?" when she tells him to back off. He's the dry voice of authority, the hard-boiled but honest cop; I want to believe that Eleanor is decoying him when she apologizes for not believing his criticism sooner ("I guess I was the one who was mixed up—a lot of it's my fault anyway—I haven't been much of a wife"), but I fear we're meant to take her at face value. He's too active in the film's ending not to be right. Hence my wistful feelings toward California's Family Law Act of 1969. Sheridan's acting carries her change of heart from resolutely not caring to clear-eyed second chance, but I almost wish it didn't have to. At least she has a good rejoinder when Frank queries their future together, wry as any of her defensive cracks: "If this excitement hasn't killed you, I'm sure I can't."

The movies with which Woman on the Run links itself up in my head are Robert Siodmak's Phantom Lady (1944) and Roy William Neill's Black Angel (1946), both stories of investigating women with ambiguous allies and ghostly romantic patterns; Sheridan's Eleanor is a harder, less conventionally likeable protagonist than either Ella Raines' Kansas or June Vincent's Cathy, which may account for why the patriarchy comes down on her with such personified, decisive disapproval, or it may be the distance from wartime, or it may be some other idiosyncratic factor that still annoys me. The fact that I can read the ending as happy rather than rubber-stamped heteronormativity is due almost entirely to Sheridan, who never loses all of Eleanor's edges any more than she slips out of her angular plaid overcoat into something more comfortable, plus the final cutaway to the Laughing Sal on the lit-up midway, rocking back and forth as if a husband and wife embracing is some great joke. Maybe it is. What makes this couple, so fervently clinging to one another, so special? He writes a nice love-note. She climbs out a skylight like nobody's business. They named their dog Rembrandt. This reunion brought you by my particular backers at Patreon.

Woman on the Run


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