hedda62: Harold Finch on ecstasy, dancing (drugged finch)
Well, after following the show for five seasons I should probably react to the end of "Person of Interest"! I did like the finale - "like" is a tepid word and it's not that I feel tepid about the ending, since some of it was very moving and makes me think, and there were the appropriate explosions, but it didn't whelm me overly. Good end to the show, though, decent wrap-up to a somewhat disorganized season, and a nice lack of utter tragedy ... well, finality.

Here are my quick thoughts on how all the character arcs wrapped up, plus some thoughts on redemptive arcs and those that are not:
Read more... )

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: Waterfall, with the words "water metaphors" (water metaphors)

This is the official announcement that my new book, Not Time's Fool, #4 in the Waters of Time series, is now available - I'll link you to the author blog for the details.

hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
I don't know if it's a New Year's resolution exactly, but I am trying to see the beauty in things more, so here we go.

Serious bummer of a week, with David Bowie going and now Alan Rickman - the latter more difficult for me because I actually met him for, you know, a minute once, and because Snape and all that - but it is great to know that they left so much beautiful work behind that we can enjoy. Still, waah.

Finally listened to the "Hamilton" soundtrack on Sunday (a day before Alexander Hamilton's birthday, which I know about because J. went to Hamilton College and we have a calendar from there which of course lists it, though I'm sure it was all over Tumblr too), and (of course) it was just as wonderful as everyone said, clever and wordsmithy and heartfelt and tuneful, and I'll be returning to it many times.

Had a grand jury session yesterday which finally after all these months brought out the "Oh my God why can I not tell anyone about this?" response, when an otherwise slightly interesting but repetitive investigation suddenly turned into film-worthy drama, oh it was fantastic and made me happy about people and their beautiful crazy instincts.

I posted my old Aubrey-Maturin crossover fic on my author website for Twelfth Night, and then inevitably started rereading The Far Side of the World, which is one of my favorites and O'Brian at top form, full of glorious words put together beautifully. Here is a bit where Stephen is in Brazil with a new Peruvian friend (the scene where he's first introduced to coca leaves):

In the event Lopez needed no hints. He spoke Spanish only with difficulty, and seeing that both his guests were fluent, even enormously fluent, in that language and that they agreed very well, he excused himself on the grounds of early work to be done and bade them good night, leaving them on a broad veranda with a number of domesticated creatures on it, marmosets of three different kinds, an old bald toucan, a row of sleepy parrots, something hairy in the background that might have been a sloth or an anteater or even a doormat but that it farted from time to time, looking round censoriously on each occasion, and a strikingly elegant small blue heron that walked in and out. Two bottles of white port stood between them, two hammocks hung behind, and Lopez returned for a moment to beg them to use the mosquito-netting. 'Not that we have mosquitos in Penedo, gentlemen,' he said, 'but it must be confessed that at the change of the moon the vampires do grow a little importunate.'

They did not annoy his guests however, since the vampire really needs a sleeping prey and these two (though eyed wistfully from the rafters) never went to bed. They sat talking all night, watching the sliver of the new moon go down and the procession of great glowing stars pass across the sky: bats of a more amiable kind, two feet across, showed briefly against their light, and in the river only a few yards below could be seen the star-twinkling wake of turtles and the occasional alligator: the lion-maned marmoset in Stephen's lap snored very gently, sleeping on and on despite the continual flow of talk.

Just to show that it is not all blue-water sailing in these books, glorious as that is as well. As an aside, which I may need to expand upon at some point, I am always bemused by the people who tell me that they tried O'Brian and couldn't manage him because of not understanding all the sailing terms - which, a) I still can't follow all of it despite multiple rereadings, b) neither can Stephen, c) why the heck do you have to understand every word of fiction that you read, instead of letting it wash over you in a beautiful haze? But this is perhaps one of those substantial personality differences that I will never get, even if I substitute me reading nonfiction and try to work from there.

Anyway, and finally. Not to locate myself in the next paragraph from Patrick O'Brian, but I am working on getting Not Time's Fool out (I need to force myself to do formatting and cover work this afternoon) and I did put up the teaser chapters if you are the sort of person who reads them. I am fascinated to see what people will think of this book - I am very pleased with it, in the end, but it is deeply weird in places (like when most of the characters sit down in the middle to start telling fairy tales) and all the book-long and series-long and otherwise-partial arcs tangling together make the structure a bit wonky, not to mention the chapter that covers seven months. But there are bits that I think beautiful. Hope some of you will too.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
For a bunch of reasons I don't want to say much about 2015, and also I have to make a feta-tapenade tarte soleil, so this part of the post is short. (The whole thing will be short; I am not claiming in-depth analysis in the latter part.) Actually, baking something semi-complex that may not turn out is a good symbolic end to the year, and certainly good food has been a lifeline for me, one which I intend to continue hanging on to as 2016 begins. Gardening was perhaps not so satisfying, but I'm hoping to make progress in some new projects, and either the weather will be better (it could hardly have been worse) or I will continue to get used to the new abnormal.

A few things worth mentioning that I really enjoyed this year: I got to see Vienna Teng in concert, I helped my sister get our family's WWII letters up on the internet (if you're interested, it starts here with an introduction my grandfather wrote well after the fact), and I took myself on a road trip through the Midwest and finally got to spend time with [livejournal.com profile] penwiper26 in person. And there's also been the federal grand jury service, which has at least been moderately interesting and has another year to run.

My creative energy, at least writing-wise, was really low this year, and I've made very little progress on The Seed Time (book five), but I did manage to do some good-quality editing on Not Time's Fool, and come hell or high water, which is not a trivial phrase these days, I will get it published by the end of January. I have, however, come round to feeling essentially non-fannish (though I am still enjoying watching and reading lots of things), and have no desire to write fic. For the moment I'm still getting those kudos emails every day, which is nice (new people turning up in the fandoms I wrote in), but I expect that to diminish this year unless something happens. Which it may. Who knows.

Which, ha. The one bit of fannish impulse I have at the moment seems, unexpectedly considering that two years ago I was going to drop it altogether, to be toward Doctor Who - at least, I am spending some of my downtime watching old episodes, and I enjoyed most of this season and the Christmas special. Come at me with your nitpicks and continuity slips, but I thought the latter was fun and charming and sweet, which is a pleasant change of pace, and I have done the fannish thing and looked at River's timeline charts and thought about doing a marathon in chronological order (if such a thing is possible and if I had the time - maybe as a prize after getting the book out). I guess people complain that her timeline is too complicated, but I like that kind of thing (and have written one that's as hard to figure out if not quite as romantically bittersweet). But since I did manage to watch the Library episodes again I started thinking about character arcs and what it means to finish them, or at least "finish" as opposed to leaving them hanging out there unexplained and/or uncompleted. I mean, what if we'd never gone back to River after "Silence in the Library"? Would it have been a worse story, if we'd never known who the hell she was? Yes and no? I suppose, considering that the Doctor's story went on, he had to run into her at some point, so perhaps it's not a fair example, and I know that the whole Steven Moffat Loves Puzzle Women thing is mixed up in this, but on the one hand I am satisfied to feel some closure to the circle and in another way I feel it's Just. Too. Much.

I remember when I wrote the Vorkosigan story "Single Combat," which was a prompt fill and meant to be a one-off, and got a lot of comments about when was I going on with the story - which I did end up doing, but for a while was determined not to, because I thought the open-ended ending was a perfectly good one. I think the urge to go on and finish things, to fill in the gaps, is a fannish urge and a genre-related one - and maybe it's that I have been reading a fair amount of "literary fiction" this year (Jane Smiley's trilogy about the Langdon family is really good, by the way), but I'm getting more dissatisfied with the need to Just Go On (reference not unintentional). Not that I'm going to leave the Waters of Time books hanging without tying a few things up neatly, whether Five or Six is the last one, but (and this goes back to the quote from Ancillary Mercy in my last post) I feel the need to acknowledge that things are not neat and tidy either in real life or fiction, and someday I'd like to write a book that just ends, dammit, and doesn't care where.

Happy New Year, all!
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
We went to see "The Force Awakens" yesterday, and I also finished reading Ancillary Mercy, which is probably a very interesting coincidence that I will not explore in detail. The latter I enjoyed the most of the trilogy, probably because I had a clue what was going on understood the ins-and-outs of the universe from the beginning and was able to jump right in and ride. It's a nice trip, and I got a deeper sense of the characters this time, and a sense of the time depth of the world - which I think is important to getting how things have been for a good long while and how they are changing. Also, I would like to see Ann Leckie write straight-up comedy.

The Star Wars movie I had a great time with, and on the whole really liked, and then we came home and dissected it into tiny pieces, so I don't have to do that again here, but if anyone cares to discuss in the comments I'll put a few talking points behind a cut.

spoilers of course )

There was an interesting opinion piece in the Washington Post yesterday about how [spoiler] is totally our fault because we can't stick our endings any more in today's genre world (link is, since they oddly haven't updated it, to an older version of the piece where the writer hadn't seen the film yet and didn't know for sure that [spoiler] would happen, but it says essentially the same thing). I do agree that one can get tired of franchises, but I'm not tired of this one yet, and I think that [spoiler] may have been exactly the right thing to happen, and then I read this in Ancillary Mercy:

Entertainments nearly always end with triumph or disaster--happiness achieved, or total, tragic defeat precluding any hope of it. But there is always more after the ending--always the next morning and the next, always changes, losses and gains. Always one step after the other. Until the one true ending that none of us can escape. But even that ending is only a small one, large as it looms for us. There is still the next morning for everyone else. For the vast majority of the rest of the universe, that ending might as well not ever have happened. Every ending is an arbitrary one. Every ending is, from another angle, not really an ending.

Which I entirely agree with, while still appreciating the climactic boom.

We saw the film at the iPic, which offers (for a steep ticket price) reclining comfy seats, free popcorn, and waiter service for food and drinks including alcoholic ones - I had a mocha martini, which is not a martini at all of course but was yummy - which was a great experience for this particular film, not eclipsing my first viewing of "The Empire Strikes Back" at a huge movie palace in Boston, with a thousand other people for whom "I am your father" was a total shock, but creating its own memory. Probably the only time we'll go there (if we go back, I hope they'll have fixed the huge lines for parking ticket validation and put enough toilet paper in the women's room) but I'm glad we tried it.
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: my cat asleep (Default)
I read the eARC of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. Verdict: disappointing and, to a large extent, boring. Oh dear.

spoilers )

On the other hand - lots of Sergyaran Shack fic coming up, I suppose there's something to be said for that.
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: (time travel)
Things that are good about traveling alone:

1. I can stop at every rest stop. (I can pee at every rest stop. I can stretch at every rest stop.)

2. No disagreements over what to listen to, except perhaps with my own conscience. (I didn't do Spanish lessons yet again.) Mostly for me it's music, because it keeps me awake and works out easiest with the intersection of the phone and the brand spankin' new car audio system that I'm still figuring out, though it did keep wanting to switch me to playing all the songs on my phone alphabetically. Finally I let it, since it's amusing to discover (for instance) how many songs that begin with "Don't" are on there. I sing them all out loud.

3. There is actually no requirement to eat three real meals a day. Though I must remember that chocolate-covered coffee beans melt if left in a hot car, even if they provide caffeine with less need to stop at rest stops.

4. Hotel rooms all to myself! Even at the conference, it turned out, since my roommate canceled at the last minute.

5. No need to feel weird about commenting out loud on the scenery or the road signs or other drivers' behavior. I mean, I do this with people in the car too, but perhaps they are silently judging the habit of exclaiming "Cows!" or "Yay, river!"

6. My choice of recreation, sights, and time to get up in the morning.

I'd say there are a few negatives, such as not having someone to look things up on a map while I am driving (like where the hell are the hotels off Illinois toll roads), but I didn't lose myself badly anywhere, had no car trouble, and didn't get sick, so it was all a great success. I was very happy to get home Monday after driving over 2800 miles and being feet-on-the-ground in 13 states (counting my own), 7 of which I'd never been to before. (I only count touching the ground with preference for buying or eating something, or making a bathroom deposit, or otherwise making an impact. I don't count airports or going through on the train - I'd done that through some of these states before - or driving through without stopping. Kansas was only brunch; and Wisconsin was only a convenience store and a rest stop, but I bought beer and snacks at the former and peed at both, so.)

I'm enough of an introvert to really enjoy the time alone, but I couldn't do two weeks of it without significant human interaction - so first I stopped in Kansas City to stay with [livejournal.com profile] penwiper26, which was wonderful (we went to the symphony! we had tacos and local beer and shopped for used books and watched hummingbirds and talked lots, including very usefully about Not Time's Fool, oh it is so good to hang out with beta readers in real space), and then there was the conference (on the Iowa/Nebraska border) and lots of chatting with people like-minded in the sense of loving plants, if not perhaps in all senses. (It is the Midwest; I don't bring up politics.) And I missed my family and my cats, but it was time to be away for a little too.

I have seen All the Corn Ever, which was unexpectedly beautiful, and I am home now. Bracing for floods, since after a couple of months of drought we are having a summer's rain all in one October week. Looks like the hurricane may go out to sea, though - fingers crossed.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
We did have an interval of really lovely weather last week, timed for my birthday, so I went for a 7-mile hike on our local little mountain - the second of that length and type in a week, since we'd done Maryland Heights at Harper's Ferry five days before. (These are seriously little mountains, so to make it 7 miles one has to go back the long way after climbing to the summit, or in the Harper's Ferry case, walk into town for ice cream afterwards.) In between we had a weekend in Staunton, VA, saw two plays (Antony and Cleopatra and The Winter's Tale) at the American Shakespeare Center, ate some good food, and visited Polyface Farm for a tour by Joel Salatin himself. So that was nice. Today I went out early to water at the community garden (just trying to keep my fall greens alive now - it hasn't rained in about a month) and am not intending to spend much time outside otherwise. We may possibly get a thunderstorm and some cooler weather on Friday. (By cooler I mean lower than the 90s.) Summer can be done anytime.

My birthday was last Wednesday, and happily grand jury was canceled, hence the hike. It's also canceled today, and I am already excused for the next three weeks, so who knows when I'll get back there. Probably it will become more regular as summer vacations (of lawyers, not criminals) fade into the background.

I am excused because I'm traveling! (Well, next week because I have a meeting, but then travel.) I will be going on a Big Midwest Adventure, ending up at a conference on the Iowa/Nebraska border, and on the way visiting [livejournal.com profile] penwiper26 - can't believe we will finally meet in person after being friends for so many years!! My intent is to tweet the Adventure, which hopefully I'll live up to. I am @ericahsmith if you want to follow me (normally I do not post much, but really I will try).

Perhaps some writing will get done on the trek, but for the moment I have accepted that it's just not happening for me, and I'm doing final edits on Not Time's Fool instead. I need to write some blog posts, too - have one sort of planned on hurting one's characters, which I started thinking about during the whole cellulitis thing.

Still reading a fair amount. I've had a whiplash-y experience with Morag Joss, who wrote a nice three-book mystery series in the oughts and then dropped it for Rendell-ish psychological thrillers, which (I have read two) are very good but also thoroughly depressing. And I am having a hard time forgiving her for leaving her cellist-detective Sara Selkirk hanging in a difficult personal position - I mean, I'm usually all for authors writing what they want to write and not pandering to my personal taste (as if they should know it), but I really hope she goes back someday to tell us what happens.

The series/trilogy/exercise-in-frustration was reminding me (not because of the left-hanging bit, but because of the character relationships) of Julia Spencer-Fleming's mysteries - cellist instead of Episcopalian priest, Bath instead of upstate New York, but both of them fall for a married police detective, and both have that tendency to leap without looking into danger and detection. It's made me think about what some of you out there call a "competence kink" - I don't think I have that, exactly, but I do like characters who are good at what they do. The question becomes, though, do they have to be good at other things? and what are those things? - does a world-class cellist fail at competence because she sometimes has to be rescued from her ill-thought attempts at cornering criminals, or a caring priest who also pilots helicopters because she doesn't meditate first before driving into danger? For me, it seems to come down to psychological plausibility and consistency, so if someone is established as having impulsive reactions in certain areas or on certain triggers, it doesn't bother me if they act on those reactions even if the actions are a bit stupid. That said, stupid characters will get on my nerves after a while, and so will Mary Sue-like levels of competence. Sara Selkirk does flirt with both those things, so perhaps one more book to resolve the personal crisis would do me, really.

Having a total TV vacation aside from occasional dips into Leverage. The question is, will I keep watching Sleepy Hollow this fall or not? Haven't decided. Should also note for those who have been considering watching that Person of Interest seasons 1-3 is now available on Netflix.

Best wishes to all!
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
So it was Three Weeks of Cellulitis, in the end, but I'm better now. Hurray for finding the right antibiotic! My primary care doctor was making noises about MRSA, but I just don't see how I have any of the risk factors, so I'm going with "nobody ever cultured it, so we will never know."

I also did get through (as of yesterday) all of the Amelia Peabody books, some of which I actually hadn't read before. I think perhaps I gave up initially somewhere around He Shall Thunder in the Sky and the emotional storm leading up to it, and didn't in fact get back to the series even though I thought I had. Glad to have come back and finished. Say what you will about Elizabeth Peters (and I could say a little about the editing in some of the later books) but she really knew how to write, and how to laugh at the right parts of what she was writing and take the right parts seriously, and I will always love her for that.

Also, it occurred to me partway through that this series is kind of the major key version of the Vorkosigan books, at least in the sense of a central family who pulls in many and varied characters to become part of their circle, viewed over a generation of time. Clearly this is something I like. And, because I enjoy exploring the intersection of writing and reading, I will admit to noticing how the Charles/Beatrice/Wilfrid triangle has similarities to Emerson/Amelia/Sethos, though at least I went a different direction with the unexpected familial relationships.

Aside from that my life is mostly tomatoes and Swiss chard at the moment.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
This will be known in future days as the Week of Cellulitis. (Probably to be expanded to Two Weeks of Cellulitis by the end, but I hope not more than that.) I woke up last Monday to a sizable red area on my left calf, which might with imagination have been described as bull's-eye-ish, so my first thought was tick bite-Lyme disease. But it seemed unlikely that I'd had a tick attached for long enough to transmit disease in such a public spot - it's been too hot to wear long pants - and further developments made that more unlikely.

I went to the doctor, got a vague "too soon to tell" and an antibiotic prescription (because it did seem infected), saw no improvement (and a fever) the next day, went back Wednesday with a spreading lesion (but no fever, and I've had none since), was firmly diagnosed and switched to another antibiotic and told to draw a line around the red area to monitor development. It kept slowly increasing (and the dark part in the middle got bigger as well) so I called the doctor again this morning and he said "Go to the ER." So I did (hurray shiny new hospital five minutes from my house) and they did some tests and put me on intravenous antibiotics and sent me home with a 3-pills-every-6-hours prescription, and here I am, hoping that I can get on with all the stuff I have to do this week (we have a major garden event on Saturday, for one thing). I am fine aside from the ugly thing on my calf, which basically is my calf at this point, it's become so large. I have been tired (according to medical personnel I have a staggeringly good immune system, because I should have been much sicker, but fighting crime infection does take it out of you) and have been doing a lot of sitting without the energy to do much work, so I launched into a reread of all the Amelia Peabody mysteries, which has been great fun.

Cellulitis information and photos, if you're interested. (Mine is not nearly as disgusting as some of those. Just kind of frighteningly large. I did run out to buy some lightweight long pants, and I also have long skirts.) So far I have not had to explain to anyone that it's not the same thing as cellulite, though admittedly I haven't talked to that many people about it.

*fingers crossed*
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)

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.

June 2016

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