random lunch thoughts

Jul. 21st, 2017 03:28 pm
topaz119: (Default)
[personal profile] topaz119
I started to do the Wednesday book meme, realized it had been months since I’d last done it--including Beach Week, where I read non-stop--and threw up my hands. I’ve finished/abandoned 20ish books since then and typing them all out is a bit overwhelming. (If you’re interested, I’m here on Goodreads. Also, I'm happy to add/friend you there, too, just let me know.)

I did want to note that I have finally gotten to the end of the published Dresden books – it’s taken almost 2 years, but I’ve listened to every single one of them. This, btw, is a lot of James Marsters in my ears. (This is generally not a bad thing.) The boys are ecstatic that I am not spoilable any more.

It’s weird, though… Between catching up on that and finishing up watching Parks & Rec, my brain is all adrift for what I should be watching/listening to next. Even if I detoured off to something different, there’s always been that next ep/book waiting in the wings. For *years*…

For my tv-watching, I think I’m going for Brooklyn 99 next – it seems to have a similar tone as P&R and for audiobooks, maybe Rivers of London. I’ve downloaded the first of that, but then I got sidetracked on all the Disney podcasts flipping out over all the new stuff from D23. I’ve reached my Disney fanboy limit, though, so it’s probably time to get back into narrative mode. (But if any of you want to talk Galaxy’s Edge, etc, please feel free to chime in in the comments. Also, if you need a traveling partner to Orlando, I do still have that Annual Pass just burning a hole in my (virtual) pocket…)

(I should also do a rewatch of Battlestar Galactica, before DragonCon, and the boys are clamoring for me to go finish up Clone Wars so I can watch Rebels, also in time for DragonCon. Yeah, that’s going to happen…)
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I still have to review Extra Virginity as well, but I actually liked that one, so it will take longer to compose….

One of the things I did get done yesterday between work, the ball game, and the Epic Sunburn, was finish a slim book of short stories called A City Equal to My Desire by James Sallis. This wasn’t a book that was recommended to me, which means I don’t have to feel bad about truly disliking it. I found it in a keyword search on the library website for books about ukuleles, and it has a short story called Ukulele And The World’s Pain, which admittedly was one of the better stories in the book despite still not being very good.

From what I can tell, he did pick the best story out of the book to develop into a novel, “Drive”, but it is very obviously unfinished in short-story form. Sallis has a couple of ongoing problems in the short story collection, one of which is that he tends to skip the vital information you need in order to know what the fuck is going on. And not in a “the blanks slowly get filled in” way, or in a “your imagination is more terrible” way (though there is a little of that) but just in a way where like…he says something that you understand to be vital to the story but which is missing context, then spends like a page describing the fucking diner someone’s sitting in, and by then any context forthcoming doesn’t get linked back. It’s like being in the middle of a paragraph when you hit the photo plates in an older book – yes the photos are very interesting thank you but I need to finish the thought you were sharing with me before I go back and look at them. I think maybe he thinks this is challenging the reader but it’s not, it’s just annoying and makes what are otherwise interesting premises totally opaque. I shouldn’t need to work this hard for a story about a hit man who decides not to kill a politician. 

If the book had a more cohesive theme in terms of the stories, it might be more readable – he clearly enjoys building worlds and then doesn’t quite know what to do with them once he’s built them, so if this was an entire book of “weird and different worlds” ala Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, I would buy in more fully and I think he would have put a little more elbow in. But it’s not. It’s mostly “here’s a really interesting world and a person living in squalor in it does something while being in it”. Also he appears to be fascinated by describing things that are shaped like pi. And a lot of times it feels like he read a wikipedia article on something and wanted to share some knowledge, so he just kind of built a half-assed story around his wikiwander. 

And all of this I would probably let go if say, it was something I was noticing in a fanfic writer, or someone who was just starting out, or someone I felt was genuinely trying to get a point across. But there’s this inexplicable sense of arrogance to the collection, a sort of smugness to it that in professional writers drives me up the goddamn wall. Stephen King sometimes falls into the same trap, where it feels like the author believes they don’t have to respect their readers because they are The Writer. 

The thing about volumes of short stories is that you keep reading it because sometimes there is a real gem. And there are one or two good stories in the volume, but I don’t know if they’re worth the rest of it. 

So my review I guess is mostly me being annoyed, but it boils down to “If you like short stories in the SFF Noir genre, give it a whirl, but if you’re bored with a story none of them get better, so feel free to skip to the next one.” 

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(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:43 pm
legionseagle: (Default)
[personal profile] legionseagle
Happy Birthday [personal profile] coughingbear

PEDTM: Day 20

Jul. 20th, 2017 05:57 pm
mirabile: (Angels in America)
[personal profile] mirabile
I am so glad to be home, sitting quietly. It was too big a day, again.

I was a tad late to Mother's because Webster and I were on hold with his GP's office while they tried to find his file so they could tell us why they left a voicemail for him yesterday. Finally they asked to call back, but I just had to leave for Mother's so Webster told them to tell me, and I left.

To my surprise, when I got there Mother was gone. I asked the floor nurse where she was and he said, BINGO. Bingo? But she's blind? Well, someone is helping her. I was thrilled, though pretty surprised, but I went back to the room to start arranging the flowers I'd brought her.

My sister called then and she also marveled at BINGO? I don't think Mother's ever played a game of Bingo in her life! At that moment a therapist rolled Mother back in: turns out she was at her first occupational therapy session. They did an assessment, checked the X-Ray, and the diagnosis is de Quervains tenosynovitis, and you say that five times fast! It's a sort of tendonitis, very similar to carpal tunnel, and they think her wheelchair is too high so she has to push with her hands too much. They are going to lower her chair a big, plus do therapy, and I had to buy her a right-handed thumb spica splint. So not a fracture, thank goodness, and now maybe she'll start recovering a bit.

No Bingo, though :)

After we talked for a while, I took her to Olive Garden for a gin and tonic and a bowl of her favorite soup, zuppa toscana. She only ate about half the bowl, which worries me, but she had eaten a couple of the cookies I'd brought her, plus some candy my sister had sent from Hawaii, so presumably she got enough calories. I hope.

When we were back in her apartment, I discovered I had missed a call from the GP's office, so I called back while I was with her and sat chatting until someone finally came on. The conversation was very distressing and, imo, almost incoherent. This wasn't a doctor, I think she was a clerk? But she didn't really identify herself. At any rate, if I understood her, Webster is in trouble because his bloodwork showed he did NOT have any demerol in him.

I explained (why is this not obvious?) that he only takes the demerol when all his other migraine drugs don't work. She said (I think she said) that the instructions are to take them everyday, so he isn't following the instructions. The implication being he must be abusing them? Selling them?

Foolishly I tried to discuss this with her but quickly realized she was both 1) ignorant and 2) hostile, so what the hell. I told her that, per the doctor's instructions, Webster had an appointment this Monday with a neurologist that the doc had recommended and another appointment with the doc in ten days to follow-up. She sounded bored.

Well, you can imagine how I felt, so double or triple that and you can imagine how Webster took the news. NOT WELL. He has drafted a letter to the doc and will continue to work on it, but I dunno. When he last saw the doctor, he was told that the doctor had received a letter from the DEA saying that he, the doctor, wasn't permitted to prescribe anymore narcotics. Today we hear something completely different.

I know the DEA is being extremely heavy-handed about narcotics, so maybe the doctor is just CYAing?

Anyway, we were worried enough about meeting the new neurologist (we have seen so many over the years), and now he's extra worried. Perfect migraine recipe! My god, do I miss Kaiser Permanente in California.

Okay, enough droning on about my weird day. When I got home, I had a glass of wine, made potato soup and vanilla pudding, and now I'm going to take a long cool shower and read.

Oh, a link! I haven't spent a lot of time with this, but it looks fun: the most iconic book set in every country. You have to scroll down a bit but they really do mean every country. I think a better title would be "the most iconic book IN ENGLISH in every country," though.

PEDTM: Day 19

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:55 pm
mirabile: (Saguaro Sunset)
[personal profile] mirabile
Another busy day, but not nearly as busy as yesterday and certainly not as upsetting. I was up before six to get to the lap pool so I would be ready at 7:30 when our contractor returned. Yes, a return to the mess! But this is just a little job. We went with him to Lowes' and purchased the material for the shelves we want installed in the closet, and to decide on a door that will separate the master bedroom from the master bath. DONE. He will start work on next Thursday.

After we came home and had a brief rest, we headed out for our dental appointments. Webster has some issues so after a lot of searching, we found a highly recommended dentist but she is way the hell out in Scottsdale. But she turned out to be just as good as we'd heard and he feels comfortable in her hands, so it's worth the drive. Plus it was a beautiful day with enormous billows of clouds, and on the way home we saw virga and rain.

Speaking of rain here, that big rain we had a few days ago included a microburst over Phoenix, and someone photographed it from a helicopter; check it out here (scroll down a bit). I'm so glad that wasn't over our house!

Today is Hyacinth-sky747's birthday. Remember her? My god, what a writer. Wherever she is, I hope she is happy and healthy and having a wonderful day.

This essay isn't for everyone, so click with care, but it's written by a journalist with a brain tumor, the same kind that John McCain was just diagnosed with: Going out like fireworks: A reporter investigates his own illness -- brain cancer. Really powerful.

Also, I've never been a fan of McCain, but holy shit. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. And his enmity with Tr*mp has proved really helpful, so for very selfish reasons I want him well and in the Senate. Dang.

My hat, but I want some chocolate. Alas, I don't have any in the house except one frozen Pret a Manger brownie that I'm saving for a really, really bad day.
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I am like….90% sure I’m going camping this Friday. 

It depends a bit on the weather, but I’m mostly packed, I’ve cooked food that’s currently waiting in the freezer, and I have acquired the third Diane Mott Davidson book to read. 

The plan is to leave work early, catch the train to the campground, camp overnight, and in the morning hike out to a different train station further down the line, about a seven-mile trek, to do a longer endurance test than last weekend’s. Then I’ll catch the train home around noon on Saturday.

If something goes wrong, I can catch an evening train home on Friday until eight o’clock, or starting in the morning at 5:30, with little to no exertion. It’s pretty low-risk and I’m well stocked. I don’t have a sleeping pad, but my backpack has a partial one built-in, and I have one arriving tomorrow (though it might be too bulky, we’ll see). And honestly in this heat, I might just sleep on top of my sleeping bag in any case. 

Worst case scenario, the campground has heated, lockable shower cubicles with nice big floors. I’ve slept on worse. 

Caaaaaaamping! *jazz hands*

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selenak: (Default)
[personal profile] selenak
For once, I manage to write my book reviews on a Wednesday.

Sam Bourne: To Kill the President

It was to be expected: the first Donald Trump era thriller (that I've read). Which takes full advantage of the fact that when previously any critic worth their salt would have complained about the one dimensional characterisation of the villains and the lack of realism in the US voting someone like that into power and then the Republican Party falling in line, followed by no checks and balances from any institution after even the Supreme Court caves due to the stolen seat being filled by the new President's choice, now all this looks like, well, realism.

Spoilers from an age where reality beggars caricature )


Philip Kerr: March Violets.

This is the first novel of a mystery series which I heard/read about via The New Yorker. The article in question was enthusiastic enought to overcome my instinctive squick at the premise, to wit: hard-boiled/noir detective novel set in the Third Reich. Basically, what if Philip Marlowe was German? Wandering those mean streets as a cynic with an ethical core takes a whole new meaning if the authories aren't just corrupt but a dictatorship preparing for war and genocide. Our hero is Bernie Gunther, former policeman who quit the force in 1933 for the obvious reason given that the novel positions he has ethics, and became a private investigator instead. Kerr serves up all the usual hard boiled/ noir tropes - untrustworthy millionaire clients, corrupt cops, shady dames -, complete with Chandleresque language, and he did his research - the novel's setting is Berlin in 1936, around the Olympic Games, and in addition to the well drawn Berlin geography, there are some great nods to Fritz Lang's movie M via some of the supporting cast, gangsters (given that Bernie Gunther originally gets hired to recover some diamonds, though of course it turns out it's far more complicated and what everyone is after is something else altogether. The brief appearances by historic figures (Göring and Heydrich, to be precise) are drawn credibly, which is to say their vileness comes across without Kerr employing sledge-hammery moustache twirling; in fact, he uses Göring's bonhommie manners to make him chilling.

As opposed to To Kill a President, this actually is a good novel. But. I still struggle somewhat with the basic premise. This is the first novel of what according ot the New Yorker article I'd read are twelve so far, and already I'm having to suspend disbelief about Bernie's continued survival. There's no reason why Heydrich at the end of this first novel shouldn't have gotten him killed, for example. And since we're in 1936, Bernie would still have the possibility to leave the country, and given what happens to him in this novel, it's hard to wonder why he doesn't, given he has no dependants who'd suffer for it. Yes, the decision to emigrate wasn't as easy as hindsight would have it if you weren't rich and didn't have friends abroad, but again, some truly harrowing things happen to Bernie in this novel which would serve as an incentive to get the hell out of Germany if ever there was one beyond the general situation of the country.

With this caveat, I'll keep reading.

PEDTM: Day 18

Jul. 18th, 2017 06:37 pm
mirabile: (Jack Fuckin' Daniels)
[personal profile] mirabile
Oh my god, what a day. My alarm went off at 5:45 so I could be ready for the sprinkler repairman who came at 6:30. To no one's surprise, we needed a new controller but he had everything required and I was pleased with the price. He showed me how to use it and left a manual, and I'll try tomorrow to make sure I remember how. He also showed me a few more things about the system, like how to turn the water off if there's a leak, and of course the most important thing: how to run some valves manually.

He left around 8, and I left around 8:30 to swing by Safeway and buy Mother a bouquet. They had a really nice one -- usually I buy a bunch of mums or carnations, not a pre-made bouquet, but this was lovely and even my nearly-blind mother really liked it. I also brought her more cookies and two of the cinnamon rolls I made yesterday. She ate those right away! So I will make a larger batch and freeze them. Maybe tomorrow or Friday.

We had a nice visit. My sister called as usual, but Mother's AIM person (Aging in Motion) came a little early so she took Mother down to the gym to start her workout and I talked, in private, about what's going on and what's worrying me. You already know it all: how prevalent my late uncle and aunt are in Mother's conversation, how short her memory is, and an issue with her right wrist. Then I went down to hang out in the gym and cheer Mother on. She is in remarkably good physical shape for a 93 year old, and she loves her AIM person. One of the PTs caught me to let me know that Mother's doctor has prescribed some occupational therapy for her -- OT is for the hands.

I was a little puzzled and talked to the director of PT. He explained that Mother's nurses had noticed that she had trouble transferring herself. That irritated me: yes, because of her right wrist, which I have reported and complained about for two weeks. We talked (with Mother) and the plan is they will do an assessment of her wrist. He will also check that it's been x-rayed (Mother thinks it has, but you know her memory). If it hasn't been, he'll arrange for it to be (they have a portable x-ray so they just do it in her room). If there's no fracture, they'll start OT for a week and then re-assess what's going on. I know where his office is so I can catch him and get information.

After I left Mother I also talked to the nurse on her wing, a really nice guy I've come to know and appreciate, and told him the story. He said he and the director of PT had already talked and he felt they were on the same page. So let's hope.

The good news is that's lots of people coming to see Mother: the AIM person, regular PT they have for all the residents twice a week, and now OT. Plus me, of course, and my sister's calls.

After I left, I hit Costco and then finally home. Webster came out to greet me and help me carry stuff in; when he saw me he said: Have you been crying? Are you all right? Well, I hadn't been crying but I was so exhausted and a little frustrated. I called my sister again and brought her up to speed, and of course he listened in so he knows what's going on. My sister advised me to have a drink, and I would have except then the a/c guy came by to check on a freon leak and instead of a five-minute check he just left, after two hours. So still no drink for me! I think I'll open a bottle of wine :)

But I did have a pleasant afternoon with Webster, once I'd settled down, and it looks as though we might have another storm tonight, yay! More rain would be lovely, even though the humidity + heat is pretty rough.

Oh, I found two cool videos on Jason Kottke's site:

Y40 jump: Guillaume Néry explores the deepest pool in the world. Only two minutes but my hat, what a video. What a pool! This is at a hotel in Italy, and I want to stay there and swim in the pool. No free diving, though.

Awaken, a documentary full of arresting imagery: This is the trailer for a movie coming out next year. Some of the images brought tears to my eyes. Also not very long but so beautiful. "Arresting imagery" is exactly right.

Now, what about that drink?

Spider-man: Homecoming (Film Review)

Jul. 18th, 2017 05:43 pm
selenak: (Henry Hellrung by Imaginary Alice)
[personal profile] selenak
Okay, that's it. As Civil War made me suspect, Tom Holland is my platonic ideal of Peter Parker, at least in his teenage phase. Also, while I had liked the first Raimi/Maguire movie and parts of the rest while increasingly disliking other parts of those films, and liked the first Garfield without thinking it needed to exist while extremly disliking the second one, this latest cinematic go at Spidey was a complete delight to me and I love it.

Ramblings beneath the cut )

PEDTM: Day 17

Jul. 17th, 2017 07:16 pm
mirabile: (Saguaro Sunset)
[personal profile] mirabile
I drove my car for five different errands today. None of them were walkable -- well, two of them would have been but it's too hot. So: to the lap pool, to the pool store to have the water tested, to the dermatologist so Webster's treated basal cell cancer can be looked at (it's healing very well; they are pleased); to my ukulele lesson; to the car repair place to pick up the Jeep. My hat, but that is too much driving on a day off.

But my swim was great, and it's good to have the Jeep back, though they're sending us a list of things that will eventually need repair (well, it's twenty-six years old, so even though we take excellent care of it, things happen, especially in this horrible heat). My ukulele lesson was a little different but a lot of fun -- I have an excellent teacher, I think. I'd like to get good enough to take my uke to Mother's so we could sing along with it, but I'm not there yet.

I made bread today, from the levain I prepared last night. Normally it makes two loaves, but I made one loaf and then two pans of rolls: one just regular sourdough rolls but the other I turned into cinnamon raisin rolls. Webster says they're like candy, so I think Mother will enjoy them. I also made chili for dinner which turned out really tasty, even though I had to ad lib the recipe.

I see Mother tomorrow but don't have anything planned. I'll bring her homemade cookies and a couple of the cinnamon raisin rolls, but I'm not sure what else to do. I think I'll leave home a little early and swing by Safeway to pick up a fresh bouquet of flowers. If it isn't too hot we can sit in the garden for a while. She's lucky because her assisted living area has a beautifully landscaped garden with two fountains. I love sitting there; it's just the heat that keeps me from spending more time there.

I have to get up super early tomorrow because at 6:30 a gentleman is coming to look at the controller for the drip system. I've done as much testing as I could but I need someone with more knowledge than the owner's manual. He came recommended by our handyman, who promised he wouldn't sell us a new system unless we really need one. My feeling is we need a new controller, but we'll see. Maybe I just need to learn how to use it.

We heard from our contractor and on Wednesday he'll be out so we can go together to Lowes' and buy the stuff he needs to build shelves in a closet. This is the last job for a while so I'm anxious to get it done: put a door in between the master bedroom and the attached bathroom (I know! why no door there???) and shelves in the closet. Maybe two days of building and then it's done. At least I hope so. It's been lovely not having people wandering around the house.

I'm pooped. I think I'll call it a day. Good night!

the weekend update & new fic

Jul. 17th, 2017 06:08 pm
topaz119: (it was a dark and stormy night)
[personal profile] topaz119
It was fairly busy, in a domestic sort of way:

  • Took BabyBoy to volunteer at the Shakespeare Tavern so he could see the professional cast who directed his youth players' group perform in Midsummer's Night Dream. Twice.

  • Got an actual haircut (as opposed to just hacking off the bangs/wisps around my face.) Did *not* do the color-the-gray thing... eh, I'm legit old enough to not care about the gray now I guess

  • Periscoped into Disney's D23 Parks & Resorts panel and started saving all my money for the previously-just-rumored-but-now-totally-official Star Wars hotel / LARP experience.

  • Had a very exciting Sunday morning of getting up early and going to Trader Joe's

  • Took BB up to Shared Worlds, said hi to various ppls, came back (it's a little bittersweet as it will be the last year I'll have kids there. I think at least one or another of the boys has been there all but one year of its existence.)

  • Finished the last Dresden audiobook. I'm a little lost, now--14 audiobooks is a lot of time with James Marsters in my earbuds. It's like my brain doesn't know what to do next.

  • Finished the fluffiest fic I have written in ages: just a perfect blendship, Wonder Woman, Etta & Diana, gen -- featuring several of my most favorite tropes: food & team-as-family


    Today I had an all-day orientation for the new job, wherein I discovered that wow, this is a huge company (which I kind of knew, but yow. Really big.) My brain is kind of mush at this point, so have a nice evening and I hope you enjoy the fic. (New fandoms are nerve-wracking.)
  • (no subject)

    Jul. 17th, 2017 08:48 am
    copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
    [personal profile] copperbadge
    Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

    Ways to Give:

    [tumblr.com profile] readera's partner, J, has been in the ER multiple times in the past three months, and their finances are very strained because of it. They're raising $300-$500 for transportation costs and medicine; you can read more and reblog here or give directly here.

    [tumblr.com profile] sleepyheathen needs to make next month's rent and is selling items, offering commissions, accepting donations, and has an Amazon wishlist up. You can read more, purchase, or reblog here, or donate via paypal here.

    [tumblr.com profile] tony-in-distress is trying to escape an abusive situation and hoping to take her siblings with her. She needs to raise enough money for a deposit on a safe house for her and her siblings to live in. You can read more and help out here.

    Anon is raising funds to help a friend cover debt and pay for legal bills after her abusive husband took custody of their youngest son. You can read more and give here; unfortunately due to Australian law apparently they can't provide much information.

    Sarah Sadat had to leave her job recently due to stress and is facing mounting medical bills for a failing kidney and previous hospitalization; she has surgery scheduled for next month, and is fundraising to help cover medical and other bills. You can read more and give to the fundraiser here.

    [tumblr.com profile] ohstephyy was let go from a job three months ago and hasn't been able to get another one; there are also other costs coming up to cover. You can read more and reblog here; a paypal address is available at the post.

    [personal profile] laurashapiro linked to a fundraiser for [personal profile] kuwdora, a talented vidder who is trying to become a professional editor. She has an opportunity for professional coaching from the editor of Burn Notice and Empire, but can't afford the expenses on her own. You can read more and help out here.

    Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] tiarasnteakettles who is looking for work as a harpist, including attempting to purchase a harp that would be a massive upgrade from her current instrument and allow her more freedom in performance. You can read more about her situation and reblog here, including links to her Patreon and online store and Paypal donation address.

    [tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

    News To Know:

    Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] wanderlust-anthology, an upcoming anthology of reimagined myths, legends, and folklore based on the theme Quests and Journeys. They are looking for creators for this anthology, which will be a full-color printed book with stories, comics, and artwork. You can read more at their tumblr or at the FAQ here; sign-ups close July 30th.

    Housing:

    Riel is looking for a roommate in Austin, TX to share a townhouse; she and the other roommate (male) are both grad students, and they do have a cat. Riel is very fandom-friendly. Lease starts in August. You can check out the townhouse here and get in touch at ariellayendler at gmail.com.

    And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

    Doctor Who and Orphan Black 5.06.

    Jul. 17th, 2017 02:03 pm
    selenak: (Missy by Yamiinsane123)
    [personal profile] selenak
    Spoilery Doctor Who talk about the big casting spoiler. )

    On to Orphan Black. Which was a good spy hijinks hour that moved the plot forward.

    Read more... )

    PEDTM: Day 16

    Jul. 16th, 2017 09:26 pm
    mirabile: made just for me (Default)
    [personal profile] mirabile
    So a new Doctor Who! Now that Moffat has moved on, I think I'll give the thirteenth doctor a try. Besides, thirteen has always been my lucky number.

    Had a nice, relaxing day. Slept later than usual, swam, then backwashed the pool. Webster and I grocery shopped, and then I made chicken and dumplings, his favorite meal (he's re-heating some right now). I also started a levain for bread tomorrow and fed my sourdough starter. I made another batch of buttermilk panna cotta but something went wrong and it isn't setting up. I guess we'll drink it? Practiced ukulele, but not enough. Oh well. My lesson is tomorrow at three, so I have some time.

    There's a storm outside: lots of wind and lightning, but so far no thunder or rain. We keep peeking out the front door and back windows to watch the weather. Heh, I can hear Webster looking out the front door again. I wish we'd get some rain, but at least we've had some clouds. All of a sudden it's really humid, though; today while working on the pool the sweat literally poured down my face. I got in the pool a couple of times just to cool down, but I was very happy when I finished and could come into the air conditioned house. I honestly don't know how humans lived here before a/c. Webster points out that the rivers actually flowed back then and they would spend the hottest part of the day in the water. Sounds good to me.

    Anybody read The Essex Serpent? I started it today; not sure how I feel about the characters yet. Guess I'll find out.

    Good night!

    Versailles (Season 2)

    Jul. 16th, 2017 04:09 pm
    selenak: (Max by Misbegotten)
    [personal profile] selenak
    Since the other Borgias left me in the mood for over the top historical melodrama, and since it was available, I marathoned the second season of Versailles. (My first season review is here.) Aka, the show with the general accuracy of The Tudors (which is to say more than than the all around anachronistic crack like Reign, but generally not that much, though the occasional clever use of historical fact actually happens), produced by Canal just as Borgia, with the main selling point to internet fandom that there’s canon m/m prominently featured, courtesy of Louis XIV.’s brother Philippe d’Orleans, aka Monsieur, played by the increasingly gorgeous Alexander Vlahos. The second season tackles the affair of the poisons, one of the most notorious events in the reign of Louis XIV., but just as it did in the first season with just about any historic event fictionalizes the hell out of it, including, mystifyingly, changing the name of the main supplier of the poisons in question. Instead of La Voisin (first name Catherine), we have “Madame Agathe”. (Otoh the black mass celebrating renegade priest gets to stay Father Etienne Guibourg, which means the first time he is introduced in a seemingly benign undercover identity, the more historically versed parts of the audience know who he is and what he’s infamous for.) In terms of historical characters, we also get introduced to the delightful Liselotte von der Pfalz, the Princess Palatinate, and may I say that I was hugely relieved the Versailles version is great, because the original is one of my favourite figures of the era, due to all those vivid letters she penned for the folks back home, and as Versailles’ first season unfortunately reduced Monsieur’s first wife Henriette to a very passive, agenda-less character, which the original definitely was not, I was a bit afraid something similar might happen to Liselotte, the second Madame. But no. She’s blunt, no-nonsense, determined to make the best of a bad situation, as all versions of Liselotte should be. (Mind you, this show still obeys the Hollywood rule of plain and beauty, so when Monsieur’s lover, the Chevalier de Lorraine, ridicules Liselotte’s fashion and looks, it’s not clear what he’s on about since the actress is pretty – whereas historical Liselotte cheerfully admitted to her plainness in youth and weathered stoutness in age, comparing her looks as a middleaged woman to a roasted pig – and so is her wardrobe.)

    On to more spoilery musings beneath the cut. )

    PEDTM: Day 15

    Jul. 15th, 2017 10:11 pm
    mirabile: (Peggy Carter)
    [personal profile] mirabile
    Just finished re-watching the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. My hat, but I laughed a lot. I enjoy a lot of the MCU, but I think Guardians is my favorite. But when I re-watch Doctor Strange, that'll probably be my favorite, and wow, am I looking forward to Black Panther, which will probably then be my favorite. When does that come out, anyway? Oh dang, IMDB says it won't be released till next year. *sulks*

    Saturday is Mother's day, but we kind of mixed this up. I drove out and spent a couple of hours with her, during which my sister and her wife called. Then I brought Mother back to the house so she could see the remodeling (she keeps forgetting that she's already seen the changes), and then Webster, she, and I had lunch at Red Lobster. She ate everything on her plate + two biscuits, so that made me happy.

    During all this, I got an email from my sister-in-law asking if I would pick up a bouquet of roses for a friend of hers who was going into hospice at Mother's assisted living facility. Across the street from the Red Lobster is an AJ's Fine Foods, which is an upscale grocery store, kind of a local Whole Foods, so I left Mother and Webster in the car with the a/c running and had a bundle of white roses and alstroemeria put together, with a card I signed for my s-i-l. We dropped it off when we took Mother home. I've had texts and emails from my sister and her wife thanking us for doing that -- apparently the flowers were one of the last things her friend saw before she passed away. I'm so glad we were in a position to do something like that. It kind of shook us up, as you can imagine.

    So we kissed Mother goodbye and came home and collapsed. I swam a little bit but a storm was threatening and I could see lightning in the distance, so I didn't stay long. Came in and started watching Guardians, and now it's time to sleep.

    Oh! Someone on Tumblr linked to this brilliant MCU vid, Glitter and Gold, by djcprod and Grable424. Awesome, awesome stuff, and one of my favorite songs that I like to bellow when I'm cleaning house. Now I want to re-watch all the MCU movies.

    Nominations and observations

    Jul. 15th, 2017 12:32 pm
    selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
    [personal profile] selenak
    Emmmy nominations: as a fan of The Americans, I'm pleased that Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Alison Wright were all three recognized at last. Will root for them accordingly, which is all the easier since frustratingly, Bates Motel' final year went without an Emmy nomination again. Freddy Highmore has been fantastic throughout, and especially in this last installment where the show had to at last enter the same narrative territory as Psycho, and succeeded with flying colours, very much because young Highmore has managed to make an iconic role his own. (Very Farmiglia would have deserved nominations in all preceeding years, but I can understand she didn't get one this year, since she played "only" Mother, not Norma anymore.) My loyalties might be slightly split for best actor because of Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul, and I'd be happy if he wins, too, but if I had to decide and push came to shove, I'd go with Rhys over Odenkirk. Speaking of Better Call Saul, I call fail on the nomination of Jonathan Banks for best supporting actor over Michael McKean (Chuck). Or for that matter Michael Mando (who plays Nacho). Look, I get the Mike cult, and Banks is always solid, but Mike really did not have all that much to do this season. Whereas Nacho got core emotional dilemma stuff, and the actor rose to the task. And McKean may have played the most disliked character on the show, but I don't think the most fervent Chuck hater on the planet would dispute he did so amazingly, and this season, it was a lynchpin performance, with Chicanery and the s3 finale as the two particularly outstanding episodes in this regard. As for the utter lack of nomination for Rhea Seahorn as Kim, don't get me started. Though, again: makes it easier to root wholeheartedly for Keri Russell and for Alison Wright in their respective categories.

    _____

    Yesterday there was a lengthy interview with Christopher Nolan in one of my regular papers, apropos his upcoming movie Dunkirk. Two issues caught my particular attention: a) he mentions having written the script for a movie about Howard Hughes, only to be foiled by the Scorsese/Di Caprio movie "Aviator", which made it unlikely for a few years studios would finance another movie about Hughes, and now when the time would have been right again, Warren Beatty struck first and made Hughes a non-subject for a few years more. But, quoth Nolan, he hasn't given up and swears this script is the best he ever wrote. To channel some writerly frustration, he added, he put some of his Howard Hughes characterisation into Bruce Wayne in his three Batman movies. And suddenly Bruce's utterly self indulgent hermit phase between movies II and III as well as his bizarre rewriting on why things didn't work out with Rachel in I as voiced by him in II appears in a new light. :) Or maybe Howard Hughes' decades in Las Vegas hotel rooms do - clearly the cover for a secret vigilante identity. Come to think of it, old Hughes sueing unauthorized biographers does resemble the Frank Miller version of Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Returns somewhwat, no?

    Anyway: b) the other particularly interesting-to-me Nolan statement was that in preparation for Dunkirk, he watched All Quiet on the Western Front (classic 1930 film version of Erich Maria Remarque's WWI novel, directed by Lewis Milestone) and was amazed such a movie was possible in 1930. But, says Nolan, it probably only was because it was an American movie based on a German novel, because an American director would never have presented American soldiers in this way, and the Germans wouldn't have made the movie to begin with, "so hooray for one culture speaking for another in this case", ends Nolan. Thinking about it, I concluded he was right that the German film industry would not have made All Quiet on the Western Front in the early 1930s - the book had been a big bestseller in Germany, but the movies were utterly dominated by the UFA by then, and the UFA was owned by Alfred Hugenberg, hardcore conservative who'd go on to support Hitler in his 1932 and 1933 election campaigns. As it was Goebbels orchestrated an anti All Quiet on the Western Front campaign when the movie was released in Germany - SA guys loudly protesting in the cinemas, white mice released, I kid you not -with the result that the movie was quickly withdrawn and most Germans saw it only once the Third Reich had come and gone. (My paternal grandparents back in the day did see it in the cinema, but they had to travel to Belgium to do so, which they did because not only did Granddad own the book, but he regarded it as a matter of local pride - he was born and raised just a few streets away from where Remarque, the author, had been born and raised in Osnabrück. And my grandfather, who'd lost his father in WWI when he, Granddad, was still a toddler, always regarded the book as a way to figure out what his father might have been like.)

    Last year, when I heard a lecture by Elizabeth Bronfen on war movies in Zurich, she compared the aesthetic and thematic treatment of All Quiet on the Western Front with what WWII movies and news reels quickly established as standard in US movies, and it really is strikingly different. Not being an expert on war movies, my lay woman opinion would be Nolan is right in the American part of his statement as well, that an American movie about US soldiers like All Quiet on the Western Front at the time and for some time to come would never have been made. Probably not until the genre of Vietnam movies started, and that came and went again; more recent US movies, no matter about which war, which present US soldiers being lured into a war by propaganda and then fighting pointless battles and dying with no heroic justification or reward whatsoever (i.e. not even saving a comrade's life or turning a battle, or getting an epilogue declaring that their cause lives on or their sacrifice is remembered or what not), don't come to mind, either. Or am I missing something?

    PEDTM: Day 14

    Jul. 14th, 2017 08:15 pm
    mirabile: (Whoa Kitty!)
    [personal profile] mirabile
    Hello, hello, I had a lovely quiet day. Swam, took the Jeep in for a tune-up, chose new "coach lights" for either side of the garage door, came home, and mostly listened to the latest My Favorite Murder and a Josephine Tey novel. Played piano, practiced some ukulele (I have a lesson on Monday), and hung out with darling Webster. There's a chance of thunderstorms tonight, which I find extremely unlikely, but I did sit in the back yard for a bit and the air does smell unusually sweet, so maybe. We can hope.

    Tomorrow is another's Mother's day, though I don't have any plans. If it isn't too awfully hot maybe we'll have lunch in the garden, or maybe I'll take her to Olive Garden for a gin and tonic and a bowl of soup. We'll see. I expect I'll hear a lot more about Uncle Russ so I will sit there smiling while my heart breaks, but, as my dear departed friend Leo used to tell me, it is what it is. If my deceased uncle Russ visited Mother recently, that's cool.

    Webster has gone two consecutive days without a prodrome, let alone a migraine, so we are both very happy about that.

    I found this article about the history of cats in LA, which I enjoyed: The history of domesticated cats in LA. You're on the internet, therefore you love cats, right? Well, I certainly do and I'm fascinated by the history of LA. If time machines were real, I'd want to go back to early LA, back when it was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula, and also to right after WWII (when my parents moved there). That there would be cats is just a big ol' plus.
    copperbadge: (Default)
    [personal profile] copperbadge
    A mango mixed jelly freeze from Chinatown is the best decision I have made all week.

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