oh, hi

Jun. 15th, 2016 08:32 am
hedda62: Harold Finch, half in shadow, text: Oh, Mr. Finch (finch)
I figured just after the penultimate episode of Person of Interest was a good time to pop back in here. I've been busy, and not really feeling the fannish love for anything, but here's a brief TV wrap-up, and that's the right word, since so many of my shows have come to an end.

POI: I've enjoyed this season on the whole, or at least felt the usual mix of admiration and dissatisfaction. Last night's episode: I was operating on about two hours of sleep, so likely missed things, but the plot seemed to have taken several leaps past logic. Which is par for the course on this show: set things up for years, and yet have smart characters fail to take ordinary precautions or question stuff that seems weird. Anyway, next week will be it, and we'll all get over it - and I kind of want to write Machine-POV fic except that might mean having to watch too many episodes over again so I can figure out what was going on.

The Good Wife: Didn't love the ending, not so much because of the non-conclusive nature (I am all about that) but because of the it's-all-about-men thing, though I suppose that is thematically right, just really annoying.

Castle: Let's just pretend the last season or two didn't happen, or that we never found out all the backstage gossip, or that they had time to plan out the series finish.

Sleepy Hollow: Boy, am I glad I stopped watching this at the beginning of this season. Oy.

Agent Carter: Sorry that it couldn't keep going, but my investment in the Marvel-verse is pretty shallow anyway.

Elementary: Actually that was a pretty satisfying season. John Noble, aren't you glad you got killed off on Sleepy Hollow?

Orphan Black: Still enjoying this too. OMG Helena and her hat. And her deer.

I am going to try not to get hooked on anything else, and spend more evenings reading or writing. Or, you know, sleeping.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
1) One thing I forgot to mention in my last post was that, although I in fact have been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack a fair amount, I spent the late winter being more drawn to another Alexander, von Humboldt. I read The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf, which is both a biography of Humboldt and a review of his huge scientific and cultural influence. (Actually, I listened to most of it, because it was out at the library and we had an Audible credit - not my favorite choice for this book, since I so often wanted to flip pages back and check on things. Read about the last fifth when the library hold came in. Will probably acquire it in paperback later.) Humboldt was an enormous figure in the 19th and long after his death into the early 20th century - internationally famous, hundreds of things named after him - and has practically vanished from our literacy now, mostly because he was a science generalist promoting broad-based theories, and the scientists of today are all specialists who seldom venture out of their chosen fields, whereas the general public shies away from both science and history, but also because at the time of WWI a lot of German historical figures got erased from American and English curriculums (and street and building names).

I had heard of Humboldt, because I read a fair amount of history of botany and he turns up there, and also because he figures peripherally in the Aubrey/Maturin books, but I had no idea of his importance in formulating some of the concepts that spurred theories of natural selection, evolution, climate change, etc., not to mention a lot of Romantic literature. He had a fascinating life and was a compelling person - so, book recommended! And I don't know if Humboldt would make a good musical, but should you want to write RPF about him, apparently he wouldn't have minded being slashed. (In case that makes you more inclined to read the book. I don't think it should.)

2) Have been spending too much time re-watching West Wing episodes, probably just as an antidote to Scandal (not to mention Real Life OMG), but I could use the excuse that I suddenly realized it's 2176 in the book I'm writing and there needs to be a presidential campaign. (Rose is at the end of her second term, so it's open.)
hedda62: (time travel)
This is entered in the Washington Post Peeps diorama contest this year. Hamilpeep, hee.

My flist has been very quiet and I know I'm part of that, but just wanted to say hi. I have been busy and will be getting busier soon, but still in winter mode and watching a lot of TV, including (since I checked in here last) "The Man in the High Castle," "Jessica Jones," and (in addictive quantities of late) "Scandal." (Which nearly made the subject line here "I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love.")

I am writing! Just very very slowly. I think the problem is that this book is so far lacking an emotional through-line that pushes me where I'm going despite plot obstacles. But I am thinking out the plot, and unlike with previous books I suspect the goals won't become evident until more of the structure emerges, so until then it's just a slog.

I am distracting myself with the Pinterest board for Time Goes By, which is much weirder and more complicated (and larger) than the ones I did for the previous two books. I am really enjoying this novel-as-patchwork concept - although I realized far too late that I should have done it backwards so the beginning would be at the top (maybe I'll manage that with Not Time's Fool), and it's still frustrating that you can't move pins. If I come up with images later that fit in the middle of the book, I guess they'll just have to go at the top, but it disturbs my sense of order.

Hope you're all well!
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
My, I have not updated here in a long while.

I think it's just been one of those periods where I'm not feeling particularly fannish, at least not about what everyone else is crying up as new and exciting (for example, I have not yet listened to the "Hamilton" soundtrack, and yes, I know. And I will. I suspect perhaps I'm holding back because a) I'm worried I might possibly not like it and then would feel an incurable fuddy-duddy, b) I am a little bit hmph-y just because of this sudden rash of accompanying enthusiasm for a period of history that I have been saying "hey. Hey, look" about for a good while now, impressive in a slightly boring eighteenth-century way, y'know, and no one listens. Though Alexander Hamilton is not my field of expertise by any means. Anyway, I digress). I've also been sick on and off, and a touch depressed here and there, though nothing to worry about. But yeah - not been on Tumblr in ages, and my Facebook use has gone up, and until yesterday my biggest recent media enthusiasm was "The Great British Baking Show," and while that was great fun it was not traditional narrative.

However, I did get inspired enough by my latest Netflix binge to come on here and recommend it (if a touch hedged with reservations) - if you're looking for something engrossingly narrative, you can do worse than "River." It is yet another British police procedural, and yet. It's both original and extremely trope-full, if not derivative exactly. At any rate, it does remind me of lots of other things - most strongly of "Luther," "Hannibal," "Scott and Bailey," "Broadchurch," and any number of other intense detective dramas, and also of Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge books. DI John River is played - very well - by Stellan Skarsgard, as yet another troubled (if not downright insane) but gifted investigator; it also stars Nicola Walker (last seen by me in "Scott and Bailey," as a (at least superficially) rather different character), here spookily charming and subtly developed (and I won't ruin the Big Reveal in the opening scene by saying more, because it is spot-on terrific). And it contains the Pragmatic/Human-Relief Ethnic Sidekick, the Tough But Fragile Female DCI, the Resentful Big Boss, the Gentle Romance-Teasing Psychologist, and the Irish Crime Family. But it's also got great acting and fascinating manifestations of dead people only River can see, and some interesting psychology, and a diverse cast (with some good thoughts about immigrants and loneliness), and it kept me enthralled. And I dare you to watch it without getting That Song stuck in your head. Six hour-long episodes - not too big a commitment!

Aside from that:

- Got through Thanksgiving (cooked for seven, came down with a cold afterwards).
- Did not embark on a Vorkosigan read-through, though I did reread Brothers in Arms to remind myself of what plot is.
- Have read much in a miscellaneous fashion since, but didn't keep track. Currently on Louise Penny's latest (which is, as always, sublime, even if I don't quite believe in someone building an enormous Armageddon device in the woods outside the village of Three Pines). Before I made it to the library I was pulling Nevil Shutes off the shelf, to modest enjoyment and the excuse that they are something Charles would like and I should be getting into his head. ETA: Also reread The Once and Future King and The Mists of Avalon back to back, I have no idea why, but it was a fascinating experience.
- Have caught up with "Doctor Who" and am generally liking the season except when I think they're being completely nuts, which is par for the course really. "Heaven Sent" was brilliant in the way that says "hey, look, we're being brilliant," but I do appreciate watching Peter Capaldi go for it. I want to say something about fabric stiffness after water immersion, but am unable to do so without proper spoiler cuts, which I'm too lazy to create.
- Have done much furniture rearrangement and sorting of Stuff. Not nearly finished.
- Oh, we also have been watching "The Knick," which I describe as "House"-in-1900 - gifted but troubled and drug-addicted Dr. Thackery is, however, balanced by other more interesting characters, and if the plot arcs are a trifle obvious and the blood a bit excessive, it made frosting and pastry layers even more refreshing by comparison. But I think overall I prefer detective tropes to doctor tropes.
- No writing progress; editing on NTF complete (I think) and I am taking a break before the publishing slog commences.

I'll pop in with more updates as I think of them.
hedda62: (tea whisk)
Beta reader appreciation post.

Another reason to appreciate [livejournal.com profile] penwiper26 is that she says things like "You really need to watch Call the Midwife" and then I get hooked and can't stop watching just when I should be doing a million other things. Thanks so much. :) But really, it's lovely and just what I need right now. And has me contemplating the differences between tropes and cliches. It's a very trope-heavy show, but doesn't cause cliche-groaning very often. I do find that I'm predicting plot twists on a regular basis, however.

I think I've decided against watching Sleepy Hollow this season, after the first episode. Not that it was bad, exactly, but the thrill is gone, and I don't need more distractions. One can always catch up in the throes of influenza or something (though I'll probably get a shot). The people whose B&B I stayed at in northeastern Iowa have a son who's doing computer animation for the show (along with all sorts of movies), but that's not enough of a connection to keep going. I am hanging on for The Good Wife, Castle, and (surprisingly to me) Doctor Who. And Person of Interest when it comes back - yay Shaw! And season 3 of Miss Fisher was terrific.

Okay, so now I need to go insert the word "bootstrap" into Not Time's Fool somewhere, and accomplish other miracles of editing.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Just a quick update before I run off to Annapolis for ferns class. Yes, this is my life.

- Grand jury duty started yesterday, and yes, I am on the panel (despite being #44 out of 23; apparently the "nearly impossible to get out of grand jury duty" thing is not enormously accurate). Won't be talking much about it here because it is Secret, but I'm... kind of looking forward to it? Aside from the driving to Greenbelt every Wednesday and spending the day in a windowless room with criminals and law enforcement personnel part.

- Tangentially, I have discovered yet again about myself that what really makes me grumpy is not knowing what's going to happen (in specific instances, I mean, not in the general sense of an unpredictable existence). I was in a horrible mood Tuesday because of the uncertainty - will I have to go at all? Will I be chosen if I do? - and as soon as I realized on Wednesday morning (when I got named early in the roll call) that I'd certainly be empaneled, I was fine.

- I've had a chance to read a lot of books recently, which is great! I go through periods of not reading much, and then have little reading orgies, and realize how much I miss it. The latest list I guess began with a reread of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (in anticipation of the TV series, which we are much enjoying), and then I dived into a mix of new and finally-getting-to-it: Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell), Among Others (Jo Walton), The Accidental Apprentice (Vikas Swarup), Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword (Ann Leckie), Penric's Demon (Lois Bujold), and Uprooted (Naomi Novik). All of which I enjoyed, to varying degrees. I'm currently nearly done with Mary Doria Russell's Children of God and have started Octavia Butler's Kindred (an interesting pairing of books, especially considering my current research interests).

- Not much TV lately aside from "Jonathan Strange" and "Leverage," though I did plunge through a rewatch of "Slings and Arrows" after finding out via Tumblr that the first two seasons are available on Hulu. (We own the DVDs, but the first one has been out on loan for several years to one of P's friends, and all my nudgings have not resulted in a request for return. Of course I'm just as bad, since one of my friends has Curse of Chalion in a pile somewhere (since about 2009) and I keep forgetting to ask for it back - she being one of those people who Does Not Read SFF. (She has bought at least the first of my books, which is nice, but I bet she hasn't cracked it.)) Anyway, S&A is just as delightful as always, possibly my favorite TV show ever - and hey, all of you who have not seen it, get thee to Hulu.

Okay, need to get ready to get on the road. More sooner, I hope.
hedda62: (time travel)
Update:

1) This video is the best thing ever.

2) Blog posts chez moi: the long one about race in my books, and the TAF outtake with Bernard as Sam Gamgee.

3) I'm doing some of the transcription on the Bulletin (see last post) now that my sister's done enough scanning for there to be work for two. The original text is typed on onionskin and sometimes a bit fuzzy; it comes through well enough in the PDFs that it can be copied into Word without excessive error, but there's still plenty to be fixed as one goes through. My favorite so far: COlllllUilications Officer.

My grandfather was a halfway decent writer. Here's an excerpt from what I transcribed yesterday:

I envy you these long September days. I will always associate this time of year with going back to school, end of summer, smell of new football jerseys, yellow leaves, goldenrod in the hedgerows, warm McIntosh apples, overripe, under the trees, and dusty country roads. It is the time of new departures, not fresh and intoxicated like Spring, but rather a change from old to new things, with the challenge of new problems, and the faint nostalgia of old ways changing. A quiet, thoughtful time of the year. This year, of all years, I would love to be home with you, but it looks more and more as if it were not going to be so.

4) I just want to note how grateful I am for the wonderful thing that is "Orphan Black." *shakes head endlessly over Tatiana Maslany*

5) Not so thrilled with "Hannibal" this season - art for artiness's sake just doesn't grab me. May just give up and not wait for there to be plot.

6) But we are finally watching "Leverage"! It is so fun, in a nostalgic summer-bingeing sort of way. Though we can't really binge, but occasionally there's been more than one episode at a time.

7) Also have watched (see 2 above) "The Book of Negroes," which I really liked. It made me want to say something about the power of - not cliches, but reiteration of the things everyone's heard before but that really need to be said, like the (slightly contrived but still good) scene where Aminata ends up in the same room as George Washington and asks him outright how he can believe in liberty and still own slaves. I had the same feeling on the day I wrote the post, hearing Anne Frank's words for the umpteenth time and still getting emotional over them. But most of the series is far from mere reiteration - it may not be a unique story but it's told with the cadence of a storyteller, grippingly. (Sort of research-relevant for me, or enough that I could get away with saying so.)

That's all for now. It's stinking hot here - we were almost the hottest place in the country yesterday, and I was outside all morning, yay.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
(Earworm mondegreens are the worst. Although sometimes of narrative interest.)

Things that have happened:

1) Got to have lunch yesterday (as in, fairly hurried consumption of packaged hummus platters, with conversation, with only four other people) with a famous-in-my-world person I've admired for a long time. Who turns out to be simultaneously just as cool as I thought and a bit of a self-centered obsessive, but this is the way things go (perhaps someone will say that about me someday) and I will be floating on the experience for several days, I'm sure.

2) My sister has been posting online a scanned, translated-to-digital-text version of what's known in our family as the Bulletin, WWII letters that were compiled, edited, and sent out as a collection to the far-flung family by my great-grandmother. I read it all as a teenager, but it's much more interesting to revisit now, with a better sense of what it must have been like. The parents back on the farm in central Massachusetts, my great-grandfather commuting to Washington (wartime job as Executive Secretary of the National Apple Institute!), the three sons and son-in-law going off into the Navy (they all survived, despite my grandfather's ship being sunk), the daughter and daughters-in-law having babies and growing vegetables and generally coping. It's all very ordinary and yet has that "can't believe this shit is happening to us" aura fighting with relentless chin-up positivity. It's also fascinating to read with the writer brain in full gear, because it has that epistolary narrative feel and yet it is so very much not a novel: the arcs are not constructed, the foreshadowing is not intentional, the little cultural and historical notes are not placed for illumination, the characters aren't introduced, even the letter snippets are not arranged within the larger newsletter for any kind of effect, and of course often the news arrives out of sync. I could do so much better, you know? And yet it's real, and it has great resonance for me because I remember the players, but also because I get to know them better as their individual voices sing out from their letters. (I have to admit, too, that fanfic-brain occasionally steps in to comment on what offstage action someone might invent for these characters. Not that I think it would be likely to become a favorite source (did I mention the lack of narrative arc?) but I did laugh when one of the great-uncles mentioned a visit from a friend called "Bucky.") It's also fun to have it emerge a bit at a time as my sister gets around to the editing - very much the serial WIP! And of course a work-in-progress was exactly what it was, since none of them knew what the ending would be. Stiff-upper-lip New Englanders, but the tension must have been incredible.

3) It has been chilly and rainy all week, which has slowed our deck construction significantly, along with any other outdoor activities (I shivered for three and a half hours out in the demo garden on Tuesday). I've been busy in other ways and haven't made as much writing progress as I should, but at least I feel like I'm getting in gear again, even if I stop to research things much more than I actually put words down. (Next fact to ascertain: would escaped South Carolina slaves joining the British Navy during the Revolution have been given surnames, chosen their own, or left with a single name? Stuff like that there.) I can't work at home with the banging and sawing going on, so I may end up a lonely Starbucks lover myself. When it's sunny and dry I can work in parks (no wifi, but fewer calories).

4) I've been called for federal grand jury service starting mid-July. If I'm empaneled, this could mean driving to the courthouse an hour away every Wednesday for eighteen months. In practice, probably somewhat less, and I have a high enough number that I may escape. If not, at least it will be interesting, I hope (please no police shootings). It does seem rather unfair considering that long day of trial jury service last July, but it's a different random selection, and I guess my number was up. Still: argh.

5) I should probably just do a massive media consumption catch-up post (I think I have been saying that for months now, though, so perhaps I'm less than truly interested). Of note in the TV world, aside from various season finales, we've watched (unusually for us) a couple of comedies: season one of "Silicon Valley," which I found more interesting than I thought I would, because it has a real business-oriented story to ground it, but I do feel the significant lack of female characters (I know this is a self-aware comment on the industry, but surely they could have remedied the problem somehow); and "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," which is delightful on many levels, as long as I keep saying "comedy, comedy" to myself and don't expect deep psychological analysis. Speaking of earworms, though, OMG. They alive, dammit. (Also in cultural penetration news: the "fascinatin' transition" bit quoted in two speeches at the college graduation of son's girlfriend a couple of weeks ago.)

Onwards. Stuff.
hedda62: (time travel)
Collections of unrelated observations make a post.

1) One really should not wake up on Mother's Day with Vienna Teng's "My Medea" going through one's head. But anyway, it was a very nice day on which I was fed brunch and cocktails and got to blog at three of my platforms (here, here, and here, if you're interested in, respectively, kolomikta kiwis, trees, and WWII airplanes vaguely related to thoughts about writing the little people in wartime, perhaps I'd already had a cocktail by that point).

2) Tangentially, with regard to the first, I keep realizing how annoyed it makes me when people a) don't pay attention to what you've said repeatedly, b) don't investigate things for themselves, and c) don't ask you to weigh in when you're standing right there, therefore d) making either themselves or you or both look like idiots when taking something that's not really a problem to an authority over both your heads. But so it goes.

3) Oh, while we're on blog posts, ha ha I used a thyme machine.

4) On the "Person of Interest" semi-renewal (for 13 episodes in the latter part of the season, demonstrating CBS's utter lack of commitment): obviously I want the show to go on (hopefully being picked up by another network or Netflix or something), but also am hoping that the limited engagement next season will mean tighter storytelling, whether it's for the endgame or a lead-in to more. They were just all over the map this season, with pointless dead-end subplots sprouting every few episodes, and not enough attention paid to either the main through-line or the intimate character details that used to make the show so compelling. A few of the episodes were stellar (and those were the ones with tight writing and a simple plot), but not enough were even average or coherent. Just trying to do too much, I think. And it just doesn't work for me to have occasional "wow, feels!" moments interspersed with a lot of garbage - I really need to know that someone's telling a story and sees where it's going, even if I'm kept pleasantly in the dark for a while. Was waiting for all those threads to be pulled together into whole cloth in the finale, and - it didn't happen, and in fact nearly the whole season didn't really advance plot or character development much. Or, at least, it was all going on beneath the surface, which may be great for fanfic, but not otherwise. And where there was development they tended to tell not show. With the possible exception of Root, they weren't using any of the characters to full potential. (Especially Bear.)

5) Other shows: still enjoying "Elementary" and "Orphan Black" (which also has convoluted plot lines, but I don't really care if I follow it all since it's the characters who matter for me - hoping they tie Alison's storyline back in though), hanging on for the end of "Mad Men" though not caring too much about it, thinking that "Castle" should have ended for good with this season (maybe "The Good Wife" too, we will see).

6) I don't think I've said anything about the upcoming new Vorkosigan book - I guess I'm excited about it, though perhaps not so much as I should be? Very glad to be seeing more of Cordelia, of course.

7) I'm scrambling to get as much done in my mess of a landscape as possible before summer really hits with its horrible heat and humidity (a taste of it earlier this week, yuck), and we have construction on a new porch/deck going on. Then I hope to write my way through the rest of it.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Having finished all the Miss Fisher there is (I am tickled at them managing a Christmas (in July) episode), I hooked my husband on Agent Carter and we are now watching new episodes as they come available. It's still fun, if not much more than that. (Unpopular Fannish Opinion: not that thrilled in general with the Marvel universe.) I do enjoy the heck out of every scene that Peggy and Jarvis are in together, not because I ship them but because I love the unabashed reversal of competence tropes.

We also started watching Scott and Bailey (liking it so far) and started - and finished - Broadchurch, behind the rest of the known universe as usual. It was very well done in all aspects including its exploitation of pathos - perhaps a bit shameful but narratively efficient and exciting. In fact, the narrative made such a lot of sense to me that I made an intuitive guess at the murderer a few episodes in, and knew I was right in the second-to-last episode; so much for unexpected twists. Am finding the existence of a second season a bit hard to comprehend, but I guess there can be more to the story; seemed perfect the way it was, though. (Also it was great fun to see David Tennant and Arthur Darvill on the same show at the same time, both of them with their little tics that occasionally bring Ten and Rory to mind. And to watch DT brood for Scotland.) (And of course Olivia Colman and Lesley Sharp both had their DW cameos as well - all these familiar faces…)

Sleepy Hollow continues to use manufactured conflict to poor effect, and I am sadly disappointed. Also sad about Elementary but not because the story wasn't well done.

That should be it - until new POI next week!!
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Quick TV catch-up:

Sleepy Hollow: Almost like Katrina after last night's episode. Almost. Also, nice to see Frank again? I hope?

Castle: Back to form and they managed to find a new twist to keep things running a little longer. (Based on last week; haven't seen this week's yet.)

The Good Wife: And the Chicago canyons echo again with the refrain, "Kalinda, what the hell, no!" Also, I love episodes that require "we didn't know this would be in the news" disclaimers.

Elementary: Introducing new main characters and giving them storylines of their own is a good thing, people; season developing nicely. (I should probably note here that Ophelia Lovibond was yet another in the category of "where, oh where, have I seen that actor before? *checks imdb* Of course: 'Lewis'.")

Agent Carter: Watched the first two episodes of this; will probably keep watching. My main reaction is: it's just so satisfying. In somewhat the same way as Miss Fisher except with much more anger and fork-in-artery grit.

Person of Interest: On hold again until February, dammit. (Not that I begrudge the State of the Union, but otherwise grrr.) Good essay here: Why Person of Interest Needs to Continue Being the Gutsiest Show on Television. It's hard to remember sometimes that reactions are different outside fandom, but I'm not surprised that some viewers want it to go back to being the cosy procedural it never was. And probably hate Root/Shaw.

Couple of reading notes: Aside from finishing A People's History of the American Revolution, it's been mainly comfort reading. Among other things, I reread Lois Bujold's The Spirit Ring, which is an early stand-alone historical fantasy novel that I must have read originally after plunging through the Vorkosigan books. In that context it was a bit disappointing, but it's really very good on its own merits: the world-building is solid, the writing sings in places, and the characters are appealing. Seen retrospectively, it strikes some interesting notes with regard to the Chalion series, too.

Earlier in the month, to remove the taste of a dreadful Agatha Christie conspiracy thriller dealing with the misuse of an international youth movement, I reread some John Verney - anyone else here familiar with the Callendar series? ismo is the relevant one here, but the series starts with Friday's Tunnel - very fun 1960s British teenage adventures, which for some reason our local library possessed when I was a kid, and I later managed to procure copies for my kids (out of print alas and tend to be expensive). All of them use female POV, girls with real personalities and varied interests and a tendency to be irritable, and I'm glad to find I still love them (the books and the protagonists, especially February). If I ever do participate in Yuletide, I'll be sure to propose this series - there has to be someone out there who's read it.
hedda62: Harold Finch, half in shadow, text: Oh, Mr. Finch (finch)
1) Got Younger Son delivered to Allentown and his stuff into the off-campus house he'll be in this semester. A whirlwind of Target and Thai food and frigid temperatures and hotel with paper-thin walls and music all the way up and back.

2) Writing is occurring! I have more than a page of Book Five done and am settling into a new character's head (Rinaldo, if you're interested. So not a new character, I mean, but a new headspace). Making notes and having thoughts about where I'm going with the book. (Cryptic words about rivers and traitors, ha ha.)

3) And doing research. Finally finished reading the section of A People's History of the American Revolution on African Americans, made note of a bunch of sources I can find at U.Md., got a JSTOR account (I had been under the impression that you needed an academic affiliation for this, but no) and shelved a journal article on enslaved people in Virginia being recruited by the British and so forth. I think this will figure in the book; not sure yet, but it's a place to start. (Well, André on the Hudson is a place to start, but it's all going to be thematically tied together, I swear.)

4) Got a couple of really nice bits of fan mail. :)

5) Kind of but not looking forward to POI tonight. Well yeah I am, but glutton for punishment, oh ow show. Have spent too much time on Tumblr this week wallowing in it all. Just reblogged a gifset of various character-killing explosions over the course of the show (tagged it "an inherent cultural passion for things that go boom") just because it was SO PERFECTLY TYPICAL. They do tend to repeat themselves thematically (and explosively) when it comes to killing people off, but it still manages to be freshly painful each time. Still need to write that essay.

6) Also, as counterpoint, still enjoying Miss Fisher a lot; nearly done with the second season I think, well past the Phryne/Jack temporary estrangement and up to the adorable Dot/Hugh stuff. A show with just enough pleasant tension but no real trauma is really just fine with me thanks.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
1) Watched the "White Collar" finale last night! I enjoyed it and thought it was close to the best ending possible. spoilers )

2) I've been watching "Luther" in down time (there were some headaches last week) and like it a lot at least through the beginning of the second season where I am now, although there's a sort of pile-on mentality with regard to tragedy and conflict that gets exhausting. So much happens to DCI Luther in the course of a few episodes that you don't wonder he keeps throwing things, though that doesn't make him less of a jerk (toward the maintenance staff if no one else) or paradoxically less lovable. The hero with anger management issues is a bit of a cliche by now, but Idris Elba pulls it off beautifully, and all the supporting cast is great too. I particularly enjoy Saskia Reeves, and Indira Varma (who spoiler ), and of course Paul McGann. I think the show does men better than women, though, including the creepy second lead (who is a spoiler unto herself), though perhaps not if you view her as a sort of metaphor for guilt or a twisted guardian angel.

3) And I did read Code Name Verity and predictably loved it. What is this "young adult" business though, OMG. No, I suppose I would have loved it as a teenager too, but it would have haunted my dreams; I'm used enough to unreliable narrators and tragic twists to be immune to that now, but the power's still there. It was odd reading it after seeing so many spoiler cuts regarding it - and now I give you one of my own; take it seriously )
hedda62: Harold Finch on ecstasy, dancing (drugged finch)
Just to catch up, things I have been doing recently (including at Thanksgiving):

Performances attended:

Messiah with the Handel and Haydn Society, which I'm embarrassed to say I knew nothing about before (I've never lived in Boston, but I have visited there a lot). It's their 200th anniversary this year!

It's a Wonderful Life with the visiting Immediate Theatre Project. This was great fun! The concept is that the employees of a financially-stressed radio station have to improvise to put on a live performance of IAWL while the regular actors are kept away by a snowstorm. Four actors doing all the parts and sound effects. Check it out if it comes to your town (which, er, would be a few places in Ohio and Wisconsin at this point, but I'm sure they'll do it again next year).

Museums visited:

The Harvard Art Museums, all nicely joined together now by a new atrium. Lots of well-known works here.

National Museum of Women in the Arts, for the Picturing Mary exhibit. I liked the division by concepts, and they've acquired lots of beautiful paintings and other artworks, though I agree with the critics who say they should have extended the time frame to include modern works and perhaps those with critical commentary. I went upstairs as well to see the 20th-century exhibits, and discovered Remedios Varo, who I'd never even heard of before but is now a favorite, at least as far as Surrealists go. This museum is great for that - so many women creating art over so many centuries, and being ignored even though the work is as good as that of their male contemporaries.

TV:

Greatly enjoying Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries as a fun and escapist treat. Missing most of the other shows that are on hiatus. Looking forward to tomorrow's POI episode, even if they are then going to stretch out the midseason three-parter into January, and waiting for Hannibal to return.

Cooking:

No, there is no reason I put this right after mentioning Hannibal, why do you ask? (I did just check out the NBC page to see if there were airing dates yet, and saw a section labeled "Episodes and Recaps," and thought it said "Episodes and Recipes." WTF. Though it seems there will be an official cookbook out at some point.)

But yes, me. Squash, mostly. And trying to get to some of the WPost's cookie recipes; I made Spicy Smoked Tea Pecan Crisps, although the dough was sooo sticky even before I spilled the egg whites onto it, and disaster pretty much ensued, although the result was perfectly edible and yummy, just not at all tidy. I'd add more flour next time, making sure that the dough could be properly rolled out. And I will be making my usual chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds for the party we're going to next weekend.

Reading:

For reasons of Italy, I've been dipping back into Michael Dibdin's Zen series, but after I finish the one I'm on I am finally going to read Code Name Verity, and then maybe one of the Christmas books.

Writing:

Not at all, dammit. But maybe soon?

We have the Christmas tree up and no cat has yet climbed it, but the ornaments aren't hung yet, so temptation is not at its highest. We'll see…
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
1) Post up on visiting places you write about (the why and the maybe why not) at the author blog. With reference to Venice, because.

(Incidentally, I am gathering that as with Twitter, so with Wordpress there is a method whereby bloggers like, follow, and/or post empty comments with the intent of getting you to follow them back; see comment about my interesting post on travel writing which is not what I wrote about but is what the commenter does. Sorry, I have you all sussed out now and I'm not going there. So to speak.)

2) Things I need to do in the next few days: upload teaser chapters for Time Goes By; decide on a not-stupid About the Author blurb for that book, and also whether I should have a dedication; start formatting the print version; do a temporary price cut for TFT and TAF ebooks (month of November, buy 'em now); send out email announcements as well as posting on the blog; get ready to agonize over cover design. Plus other things in other spheres of my life.

ETA: Also have to come up with a blurb for TGB a little more extensive than the placeholder ("Adventures extending over five centuries, three separate continents, and one world-convulsing war"). OMG how.

3) Am attempting to catch up on TV missed while away. Caught up on Person of Interest, which continues to be fantastic this season (all of you who gave up last season, you should come back!); on Castle, which is still entertaining if stretching it a bit with the amnesia plot oh please; on Sleepy Hollow, which is just absurd but completely lovable and doing interesting things with interpersonal relationships; on Doctor Who, which… I just don't know, really. Others to follow.

4) I read, over the course of the trip, several books but two in particular that I'd really like to review together if that were possible anywhere, just because they resonated as if unrelated objects struck and vibrating in close harmony. One is Jo Walton's My Real Children, which I loved as a transformation of the mundane extraordinariness of life into the fantastical (old woman with dementia in nursing home reflects on two entirely separate lives she remembers having lived in two versions of the 20th and early 21st centuries (neither of them ours)), and the other is a memoir by my second cousin Ann Hedreen about her life and that of her mother who died in her 70s of early-onset Alzheimer's, called Her Beautiful Brain. The resonance is close in the description of confusion and forgetting and disintegration, the life choices faced by women, the poignancy of loss and ordinary living, the portrait of a period of time; the format is different, of course, but I think Walton's book has a lot of elements of memoir (there's a lot more of "and then this thing happened, and then the other thing" than I thought I could put up with in what has to be categorized as speculative fiction) and it certainly reads as a real person's story, or stories. (But it's a different sort of person who chooses to write about their own life rather than those of invented characters. I didn't know Ann very well before reading her book; now I almost feel I know her too well. Memoir is not a choice I'd make for myself, even if my life was interesting enough to merit one.) Also, I had no idea before I started Walton's book that it had so much to do with Italy, so that was fun.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Miscellany: writing, cats, TV, etc.

1) I wrote the first sentence in Book Five last night:

The muffled oars whispered secrets to the river as the boat slipped downstream, returning Major John André to the safety of the Vulture.

Which should alert those familiar with the incident that something weird is going on, but never fear, I will explain what and why and how very quickly. I haven't written any more yet, but perhaps I'll get time to do that today; I do know how it goes on. For a little while, at least. And am very glad to get started, and impressed that I've written something considering my mental state a couple of weeks ago.

Also got a laugh when I reviewed the history and saw what the name of the sloop was. Birds, I tell you: following me around.

(The next line in the "How to Suppress Women's Writing" litany goes: She wrote it, and then she wouldn't shut up about it. Sorry not sorry.)

2) Cats! I said I'd write about cats, and I haven't done an update in ages. We still have Lancelot and Hotspurr, and they are well. Hotspurr is now an indoor-outdoor cat - I swore this wasn't going to happen, after losing the last cat (plus others, previously) to outdoor threats, but he had other ideas, and as soon as spring arrived he began scratching and whining constantly (I mean, for hours at a time) and shooting out the door whenever we opened it, and we eventually gave in. (Tried the leash thing first - nope, not going for it.) He's five years old, so he had fully-developed habits before we adopted him, and clearly no one ever denied him anything, including access to the outdoors. He's also refused to wear a collar (he lost six of them outdoors before we stopped putting them on) but he does have a chip at least. And he's smart about what's out there, though I'm reconciled to the possibility that some of it will eventually kill him. He'd just be miserable inside all the time; some cats just are The Cat Who Walks By Himself, and that's how it is. He's done two all-nighters out so far, and been caught out in several thunderstorms, though he tends to curl up on a chair and sleep the whole next day.

Lancelot is still an indoor kitty, because I don't trust him to avoid danger outside, and because the only reason he seems to want to go out is because Hotspurr's there. They bonded nicely in the winter, but while Hotspurr is fond of Lancelot, Lancelot loves Hotspurr, and now he spends days waiting by doors and windows for his friend to come back. We are seriously thinking of getting a third cat, if we can find one guaranteed to prefer the indoors.

3) I'm kind of liking the break from TV in the summer (though the POI preview clip from ComicCon looked awesome), which we are filling desultorily with episodes of "Borgen" - it's a Danish political drama about a female prime minister in a coalition government, and it's intriguing and fun and poignant in a way that's more "West Wing" than "House of Cards" (or "Yes, Minister"), and blends the political and the personal in a balanced way. We're about halfway through the second season. In Danish with subtitles - which means I can't watch it if I'm sleepy, because my eyes will close and I'll have no idea what's going on, but it's been interesting. Neither of us speaks Danish, but I know a little German and J. used to be fluent, so some of the roots are familiar and occasionally we'll pick up a word here and there. We concluded pretty quickly that a lot of sounds get seriously elided, because when there's something you know they should be saying (because it's in the subtitle and not likely to be a mistranslation) you still don't hear it. And then occasionally there will be phrases in English - there are whole scenes in English, I mean, when they're talking to people from other countries, but also just little bits of jargon or idiom that apparently have been adopted into Danish parlance, which is kind of weirdly endearing and startling. Only available here on DVD - which, wow, when was the last time we watched one of those?

4) Subject line is one of my favorite bits of Vienna Teng, from "In Another Life":

In another life
I was married at thirteen
You were killed at twenty-one
On a minor battlefield


which I just think is genius in the "adding insult to injury" way. Minor battlefield, ha. It's the sort of thing Rinaldo would like, and since that's his POV up there in the first line of Book Five (which still has no title) I am particularly inclined to attach to it. (Last book used all female POVs; this one will be all male, which makes it the first book without Olivia's interior perspective, though possibly I'll give her the epilogue.)

5) I've been having shoulder panics. When you've had two frozen shoulders, any lasting pain or stiffness in those joints leads to worry (which probably doesn't help in terms of loosening up) about the possibility of losing most of your range of motion, plus any ability to exercise (because of extreme pain on jarring), for a year or so. I am just back in the swing of things where exercise is concerned, after the frustration of the knee problem, and having that go away again would be devastating. But I'm hoping it's just the temporary result of doing too-speedy hand-weight lifts in Jazzercise. Lots of stretching is in order.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
1) Three more inches of snow yesterday, and today it's cold and windy and whipping around white, but this is it, really. Somewhere out there a daffodil is blooming.

2) POI just average last night (I think; I was sleepy) but end of season still looks good (the finale is called "Deus ex Machina," yes they are going there). I am a bit concerned about Bear's self-discipline.

3) Also caught up on The Good Wife (for which I was spoiled, but still, a shocker) and Hannibal (less of one, and isn't that interesting?). And watching Elementary season one in downtime (rewatching, but since I fell asleep during every single episode the first time, defining it as such is debatable).

4) Up to The Ringed Castle in my Lymond reread. Funny how little I recall in detail from first read however many years ago that was, though general tone sticks very well. This one, recollected: a fair amount of bad weather, speculations on illegitimacy, and things that begin with L. On rediscovery: surprising amounts of politics and relevance to today's news. And an eagle.

5) Aside from that, it's all a blur of garden plans and powerpoints and seeds and formatting I really should get to and worrying about adult children's schedules. And taxes. (I have netted over $200 on the book so far, but all paid (or to be paid) in 2014 so nothing to be done about that at present. Except think more about marketing.)

6) I did join Pinterest, but have done very little about it so far except stick a whole bunch of Time for Tea-related images on a board. It's a mishmash of portraits and costumes and pistols and scenery and Japanese tea ceremony et cetera, and needs to be organized at some point. But I am intrigued by the idea of wrapping subject matter around imagery.

7) Have taken to spending some time each day working while standing. Looking forward to getting back to long walks when it's a touch warmer. Hope to be plotting Book Five while walking, this summer.
hedda62: Harold Finch in his HAT (hat baby)
The ten inches we got a couple of days ago is melting fast, but I had Vienna Teng's "The Last Snowfall" humming sarcastically in my head for a while. Records for March have already been set, and there's a possibility of another storm next week (which may go north of us, and I am sorry for everyone up there; talk about pummeled). I love snow, and it's pretty out there, but really disconcerting, and I want my fingers in the dirt now thank you.

"Person of Interest" has now totally emerged from early season awkwardness and uncertainty of direction, and is headed to what I'm sure will be a bang-up finish to this arc. I thoroughly enjoyed last night's episode, especially the feeling of everyone playing on a team (Reese! Fusco! Shaw, oh Shaw you are awesome), and the delicate steel trap that is Root, and Finch gently and deliberately reaching out to disarm it. Michael Emerson and Amy Acker are so fantastic in their scenes together, and between them they make the Machine completely real and present, not to mention Samaritan. And I love the clockwork perfection of the Machine directing Root through her shenanigans, and how lost she is when cut loose.

Also, filming in the snow ha ha ha. Bet they didn't think it would still seem that close to the present moment when it aired. They all looked really cold.

Speaking of Amy Acker and her awesomeness, I finished "Angel," and overall really liked it, despite some unevenness particularly in the last two seasons (well, season 4 is mostly WTF territory, but there's some decent stuff there too). Having read about what was going on behind the scenes, I can understand the mess and the abrupt wrap-up. Not every show can be "Lost," alas.

We are caught up to current airing on "Hannibal," and although I'm not thrilled with the bloodlust, I'm enjoying the way the story is unfolding, and will keep watching to see where they go with it.

Working away on talks, book formatting, and garden planning: it will all get finished, and I hope not too much else slips through the cracks along the way. Trying to get as much inside work done as I can while waiting for the soil to be workable. Spring will be intense, when it comes.

rad

Mar. 5th, 2014 08:04 am
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Ooh, it's been a while. Today is Younger Son's 20th birthday, and we are hosting his girlfriend and her parents for several days starting this evening, so I don't (and haven't had) a lot of time, but wanted to let you all know I wasn't dead. Hi.

a) That was a great episode of Person of Interest last night. In fact, I believe the word you are looking for is "awesome."

b) YS enticed us into starting Hannibal, which I was trying to avoid, because what do I need with another fandom or even just another cunningly-plotted TV show. It kind of makes me want to cook vegetarian. Which coincidentally I have to do a lot of this week, so.

c) Things on the shopping list: chocolate, tofu, lotus root. Our lives grow more interesting daily.

d) Six more inches of snow happened Monday. This can be it as far as I'm concerned.

e) On the weekend we watched "Thor: The Dark World." I fell asleep, predictably. In between appreciating Hiddleston, of course. We did realize that we missed a major opportunity not naming our (big, ginger; small, black) cats Thor and Loki, but I suspect it's been done.

Have to go roast sweet potatoes and clean the kitchen now. Talk amongst yourselves.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Things I have been up to:

1) Still working on various powerpoints. Two delivered last week, including the root vegetables one on Saturday where I passed around a couple dozen different produce items acquired at just two local supermarkets (things like lotus root and galangal alongside the relatively more prosaic carrots and turnips). Which means that I now have to cook them; it's going to be a week of, I'm sorry, getting back to our roots.

2) Thursday evening we drove into DC (unfortunately at the same time the Dalai Lama was there; it would have been a good day to take the Metro) to see one of the National Theatre broadcasts of Donmar Warehouse's "Coriolanus" with Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss, and a bunch of other great people. It was at the Shakespeare Theatre (the newer location), so a bit weird to sit in a theatre watching a video of another very different theatre, with filmic closeups. But thoroughly enjoyable. Also listened to last fall's Nerdist interview with Hiddles on Saturday's drive, so I am kind of vibrating still. In a totally non-cradle-snatchy way, of course. *hummmmmm*

3) This goes nicely with my slow reread of the Lymond Chronicles, because oh yes, please do make the mini-series before he's too old. [personal profile] yunitsa will write the script.

4) Went nearly straight from the root vegetables thing (well, the whole five-hour event) to Allentown so we could watch the kid in a movement ensemble performance and the kid's delightful girlfriend in an all-female version of "The Learned Ladies," and then drive home again the next evening. Weekend, what weekend.

5) I've also had some migraine-induced downtime, which I've mostly spent watching more "Angel." Well into season 3 now, filling one of those long-needed viewing gaps (after, you know, betaing [livejournal.com profile] penwiper26's fic that uses the source material. I'm spoiled for it, but that's not the same as knowing the canon).

Need to sort some seeds now.

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