Derik Badman's Journal

2021-06-28 08:02

Lianne went off to a weaving class for the week, so it's just Buddy and I here through Saturday. It's been... years, I guess, since she's been away and me at home. Last weaving class, back in 2019, I went along and hung out in the town there. Especially after the past 16 months of her being here even for work, it's extra strange to be the only person in the house, most prominently in the evenings. Cooking dinner for one, waking up in the middle of the night with no one there next to me. Thankfully I will have work to keep me busy this week, as we are releasing code (and our last release was 2 months ago, so it's a big one).

I did a v1 release of my Hadleyville webapp yesterday. It still needs a lot of work (especially for mobile friendly UI), but it can be found currently at I've got a bunch of other plans for it, to make it easier to use, but it felt like it had at least reached a solid first version state. Spent far too long trying to get a color scheme that worked and am still not happy about it, and never did get a dark theme set-up. There's a interesting tutorial on doing that here, though it requires a lot of messing around with the numbers to get color contrast at an acceptable level depending on what starting color you pick (I think the dark yellow/tan I chose was a poor choice in that respect).

With Lianne away, I'll probably be watching a lot more movies over the course of the week. Last night I watched John Boorman's Excalibur and Christian Petzold's Barbara two very very different movies.

Excalibur, from 1981, is a very 70's fantasy movie, quite reminiscent of other pre-cgi fantasy movies (like the Conan movies). The wizard talks creepily and has a metal skullcap, the fight scenes are a little silly but also a little more realisitic (you can tell the actors are struggling to move around in the plate mail they are wearing), they let certain set elements do a lot of heavy lifting. The movie is both too long (it gets boring) and too short (it just doesn't have room for all the plot elements of Mallory). Patrick Stewart (somehow young yet still looking old) was a surprise appearance, as was a very young Helen Mirren (who plays a great Morgana), and Gabriel Byrne, as Uther, was unrecognizable to me until I saw his name credited. A long action scene of knights storming a castle wall and Arthur climbing around the scaffolding they are using is quite well done and ends with a dramatic oath of loyalty with all these knights standing in the water, while Guinevere watches on. Over the course of the movie they get a lot of use out of actors getting grey long hair and beards to show time passing. It's all rather... downbeat by the end. One thing that amused me is how many of the fights involve the ground being on fire, as if knights really like to set grass on fire and then fight while it burns. That is clearly missing from my D&D games.

Barbara (2012) on the other hand, is a quiet movie about a doctor in 1980 East Germany. She did... something wrong (I don't think you ever hear exactly) and has been sent to a country hospital where she is spied upon and her apartment (and herself) searched more than once during the course of the movie. She seems to have a West German lover who is trying to help her flee the country. The drama (low key for the most part) comes from the clash between the oppressive state in the form of mostly everyday people, her desire to leave, her new found desire for a colleague who she doesn't trust, and a few young patients. Like the previous Petzold I watched Transit I really enjoyed this, and like that movie what could be a very over the top dramatic genre plot becomes a much more low key character drama. I saw nothing particularly notable about it stylistically, yet I was never bored by it. It's not flashy visually or narratively, but it's really well executed on all fronts.

Read two more of the Lois McMaster Bujold Penric & Desdemona novellas (5th and 6th I believe). Realizing I might have read some of these out of order, but also confused that the order of them is out of order chronologically... anyway, these two follow from what is apparently the 3rd one (which ended rather... incomplete). Bujold continues to surprise me with how often she can avoid a host of fantasy tropes, in particular violent combat, while still maintaining a certain suspense (of the "will they survive this danger/mission" type).