I am, for the most part, trying to avoid endlessly scrolling through the news. Yes, I need to know what’s going, but it seems like so many of the headlines are written solely to inspire fear and dread, and that’s not helpful. I’ve mostly been relying on NPR, which doesn’t use frantic headlines and presents straightforward news.
To help clear my head, I went to the park last night. I spent about twenty minutes watching this goose and waiting for it to get into just the right spot:
Obligatory Mina Photo:
We’ve had thunder and high winds in the past twenty-four hours, so it’s been very noisy outside. Because of this, Mina hides under one of the bookcases.
Sidney, on the other hand, has declared himself King of the Couch:
Other observations for the week:
- My mom was disappointed that she couldn’t go play Scrabble with her friends this week, so I downloaded Words With Friends and we’ve been playing that for the past few days. And dang, my mom is good at it…
- I accidentally washed my hair with body wash the other day, and I think the body wash is better than my actual shampoo. My hair is still clean and super soft.
- Haagen Daaz’s ‘spirits’ line of ice cream is fantastic. Especially the Irish Cream and Brownie flavor.
- No matter how old you are, spinning around in a desk chair is awesome.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision by David duChemin
- The Sagas of Icelanders by various, preface by Jane Smiley
Within the Frame is a lovely book about photography, and why vision is so important when it comes to composing a photograph. You can have the best gear available and all the technical knowledge possible, but if you don’t know what visual elements go into a good photograph, all that gear and technical skills aren’t going to help you very much. And if you want to make portraits, but you’re unwilling to try to connect with the person you’re photographing, you’re going to create a lifeless portrait. I’ve been following David duChemin’s blog on social media for several years, and when I slow down and keep his advice in mind, I always create better photographs. Within the Frame serves as a reminder to slow down, think about what I want to communicate, and connect with my subject.
So I’ve been slowly working my way through The Sagas of Icelanders for a long time, and I thought I would be working on it for a while still, but once I finished ‘Laxdæla Saga’ on Wednesday, I just kept going. And going. And then I finished the whole thing. So many stories! I was surprised by a lot of them, which felt very modern at times, in spite of their being from the 900s-1200s. In ‘The Saga of the Confederates’, for example, an estranged father and son are reunited thanks to a bogus lawsuit. I did not expect a story like that. But on the whole, the sagas are strange and brutal stories from another time and serve to remind readers that, while people have always been people, the past is still a foreign land, and its customs and culture are endlessly strange to modern eyes.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel, audiobook narrated by Jonathan Keeble (62%)
- The Mirror and the Light (Thomas Cromwell #3) by Hilary Mantel (234/784)
The end is coming into sight in A Place of Greater Safety, though there is still a long way to go. I am starting to see certain threads beginning to unravel for several of the characters, and it’s going to cost them dearly down the road.
Cromwell is rising ever higher in Henry VIII’s esteem, though he has passed over a second opportunity to take down a rival. It’s a mistake, and while those closest to him know it’s a mistake, Cromwell doesn’t see it. He thinks he has enough power over that rival to see him through, but cold winds blow along his neck anyway, and ghosts keep appearing in his dreams and otherwise. Mantel has said that all stories are ghost stories, and The Mirror and the Light is no different. Even the ghosts of Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn seem to float in on an errant breeze. I am constantly in awe of Mantel’s writing and am in full agreement with Elizabeth Gilbert, who was recently interviewed in, I think, The Guardian where she was quoted as saying, “Don’t we all wish we had written Wolf Hall?” Yes. Yes, we do wish that.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
I have no idea. I might focus on The Mirror and the Light. I might start reading the ARC I have due next. Or I might just write and edit. I have no plans aside from staying home when I’m not at work and taking the occasional walk through the now-empty college campus nearby.
What I’ve Been Watching:
A lot! I’m not going to include detailed cast lists or anything, since I’ve been watching (or at least having the TV on) more than usual.
The Gelflings discover the true nature of the Skeksis in this beautiful, limited series prequel to Jim Henson’s puppet-led masterpiece, The Dark Crystal. Traditional puppetry blends with computer animation to create a visual masterpiece that is as engaging and endearing as the original 1980s film.
October Faction, season 1
Deloris and Fred are monster hunters for a secret international organization. The problem? They have twin teenagers. The kids don’t know their parents hunt monsters. Their parents don’t know the kids are developing magical powers of their own. October Faction features plenty of family drama, high school drama, action, and enough twists and turns for a Dan Brown novel. Does it telegraph some of its twists? Sure. But it’s still fun to watch.
The Letter for the King
Young Tiuri wants nothing more than to become a knight of the realm, but that involves facing a series of physical and mental challenges, which he’s not sure he can make it through. But when a dying knight tasks him with taking a critical message to the king, Tiuri must test himself to his limits and evade all sorts of trouble on his way across the country with only a horse and a dodgy young woman to help him. While it is better than many fantasy shows, The Letter for the King has major flaws in character, pacing, and tone and sometimes verges on the incoherent. But it is fun and has some clever dialogue, so if you’ve run out of fantasy shows to watch, it’s worth a shot.
Star Trek: Picard
CBS All Access
Episode 110: ‘Et in Arcadia Ego, pt. 2’
This second part of the first season finale tied up a lot of loose ends while leaving a few dangling and setting up a few things for the next season. While those loose ends are a bit bothersome: What happened to Narek? Will Sutra answer for what she did? Will Jurati answer for what she did?
On the whole, though, I was extremely happy with how the season ended. There was just enough fan service to make me do a happy dance to see certain characters on screen again, but it veered away from being so nostalgic that it didn’t give the new characters a chance to establish themselves. I hope they’ll deal with some of the ambiguous elements left open at the end next season. I’d like to see Narek fleshed out a little more if only to prove to the naysayers that Harry Treadaway is a much better actor than this script gave him the ability to show, and there was a certain, critical aspect to the first season that was glossed over in the finale.
Also, that little hand clasp Seven of Nine shared with a certain female crewmember made me so happy, especially given how many episodes of Voyager were spent trying to turn Seven into the perfect date (for a man). I hope Seven joins the crew of La Sirena and allows that relationship to blossom.
About That Writing Thing:
I’m publishing Part 1 of the main story today. I’m a little nervous about it, even though I’ve had only positive responses to the three short stories I’ve already posted. But there’s a big difference between stories of 1,500-2,500 words and a novella of 150 pages. I did a final round of line edits and cleaned up a few paragraphs last night, and I’m trying to convince myself that I don’t have gaping plot holes, that the story is actually interesting, and that the writing is just fine. Sure, I might be a bit rusty in the first and/or second part, but that’s okay. It all gets better– and hopefully easier– from here.