Remember last weekend when I said I thought it would be a nice, quiet week? Yeah, that didn’t happen. This past week was super busy at work. But at least I got a lot done at home, even if I felt like I was running in circles at work all week.
I’ll be doing a bit of traveling this week. I’m heading back to my hometown to see my parents for Thanksgiving. It’s just for a day or so; there and back again. It’s about a three-hour drive, so it’ll be the farthest from home I’ve been for the past couple of years. It’s going to be weird.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
She’s giving me a skeptical look. I don’t know why. She had a perfectly pleasant week that was full of naps, her favorite toys, and lots of treats. Perhaps she’s annoyed with me because I keep stopping her from moving the boxes that are under the couch to keep her from getting up inside its structure. I don’t want her getting in there, as she could get hurt. So the boxes will stay where they are, and Mina will be annoyed with me because I won’t let her get inside the couch.
Sidney was also annoyed with me, because when I was doing laundry on my day off, I put his blankets in the wash. They were getting smelly and needed to be washed, but it meant Sidney was without his blankets by the radiator for a whole two hours. You’d think I’d put him out in the cold for as much as he carried on. As soon as the blankets were dried, I put them back for him, but it took him a few hours to forgive me.
Cats. What can you do?
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- Around the World in 80 Books by David Damrosch, eARC provided by NetGalley
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, audiobook narrated by Andy Serkis
- Dracula by Bram Stoker, audiobook narrated by Alan Cumming, Simon Vance, Tim Curry, et. al.
- Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq
- Observations by Gaslight by Lyndsay Faye, ARC provided by NetGalley
I reviewed Around the World in 80 Books earlier this week. You can click on the link to read my review if you’d like. On the whole, I enjoyed it and found quite a lot of books I’d like to read. My TBR hates it when I find books like these, because I inevitably add a bunch more titles to it.
I’d never listened to The Hobbit on audiobook before (although one of our teachers read it aloud to us across a few weeks in sixth grade), and Andy Serkis’ narration was phenomenal. I can see where he was inspired by the Peter Jackson films (especially in Bilbo, Balin, and Thranduil’s voices), but he had a lot of his own twists on it, too. His narration fit the mood of the story, which can’t be the easiest as it subtly changes from the beginning to the end. The beginning of The Hobbit is light and almost silly, but by the time of the Battle of the Five Armies, it has darkened considerably. Once again, I loved this story and I’m glad I requested it from the library.
I had also never listened to Dracula on audio, and it was an odd experience. I always forget how much religious stuff shows up in it. When I’m reading the physical version, my eye just slips over all the religious declamation, but I can’t do that on the audio. Oh well. I made it through, and while I wanted to slap all the men all over again for being Victorian dolts, I thoroughly enjoyed this reread. Though I will probably just read a physical copy in the future.
Split Tooth is hands down the weirdest book I’ve read this year. I’d thought it was a memoir, but my library has it sorted under fiction, so I guess it’s not a memoir. I think? Whatever it is, it’s a dark, striking story of a Canadian Inuk girl who is trying to get through the school days, avoid the girl who bullies her, have fun with her friends (often while getting high on whatever they can find), and avoid the drunken adults who plague her. There are times, though, when she goes out onto the tundra and encounters the nature spirits of her people. One night, she becomes pregnant and her life changes completely. The prose story is intermixed with poetry, wherein the girl describes the sexual abuse she has endured, and the fury it has inspired within her. Split Tooth is a difficult, often brutal book where, even if some of it is fictional, it feels as though the more mundane parts have been drawn from real experiences that Tagaq or others like her have been through.
Observations by Gaslight is the third of the five ARCs I need to get through in November. It’s a collection of short stories about Sherlock Holmes, as told by characters associated with Holmes and Watson. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but my top three choices are the stories from Irene Adler, Lestrade, and Mrs. Hudson’s perspectives. All the stories feel like they could have come directly from the Victorian era, and all of them have captured the spirit of the characters’ perspectives, as well as provided interesting insights about Sherlock Holmes outside of Watson’s narration in the original stories.
Did Not Finish:
- Winter Pasture: One Woman’s Journey with China’s Kazakh Herders by Li Juan, translated from the Chinese by Jack Hargreaves and Yan Yan
Sadly, I did not enjoy the translation of this book. I don’t know if it’s do with Li Juan’s original writing, or if it was the translation where the problems arose, but it felt very childlike and disorganized, as though Li Juan got home from the winter with the Kazakhs and just started writing things down as she remembered them. I wasn’t enjoying my time with this book, so I set it aside. I probably will not go back to it.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond by John Powell, audiobook narrated by Walter Dixon (55%)
I hadn’t intended to pick up a bunch of books about music and music theory this week, but after listening to Lorne Balfe’s “first turning” of the Amazon Prime’s Wheel of Time soundtrack and being largely unimpressed by it, I realized that I didn’t have the vocabulary to say why I found it disappointing, and why I think soundtracks like Hans Zimmer’s score fro Dune or Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings are brilliant. I have a bit of a background in music, but I’ve found myself wanting to know more. So I downloaded Powell’s book via Hoopla, and requested a couple of others from the library. So far, Powell’s book is thoroughly entertaining and quite informative. It’s a bit more basic than I thought it would be, but I’m okay with that. He details the essentials of music, like what musical tones are, how instruments make sound, and how we manipulate them to change the pitch and loudness. At the end of each chapter, Powell himself narrates a bit to explain certain things that were discussed, and will play chords and melodies to illustrate what the chapter was about. My favorite bit was when he played his ‘straw oboe’ (a very basic instrument made with a simple plastic drinking straw). He played a few notes and it sounded ridiculous, and his laugh at the end of it was priceless.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
It’s going to be a busy week, so I’m not sure which of the books on my TBR shelf I’ll be able to get to. There’s only one for sure that I’ll start: The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa, translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai. It’s the fourth of my five NetGalley ARCs, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve come to really enjoy Japanese cat books, and I’ve heard good things about this one.
What I’ve Been Watching This Week:
The Wheel of Time
Showrunner: Rafe Judkins
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Henney, Madeline Madden, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Zoe Robbins, Barney Harris
I’m not particularly shy about sharing my dislike of the Wheel of Time book series. I read the first nine books back in college. I read the first three books in a few days each, but as the series progressed, it took longer and longer for me to get through each books. By the time I got to book nine, Winter’s Heart, I was thoroughly fed up with the endless POVs, the repetition, and the clunky prose. It took me weeks to get through it– despite skipping any POV that wasn’t one of the main set of characters’– and I set the series aside, intending to never return.
I was convinced to give it another shot a couple of years ago, though. I buddy read book one, The Eye of the World, with Jackie at Death by Tsundoku, and was mostly entertained by it. But I only made it halfway through book two before getting thoroughly annoyed by the characters. I set it aside again.
I’ve been skeptical of the series since I heard it was coming up, but I decided to give it a try. You never know, after all.
Last week, the first part of Lorne Balfe’s soundtrack was released on Spotify. I put my nice headphones on, listened to it all the way through, and was mostly disappointed by it. Sure, there are some leitmotifs, but they’re subsumed by the drums and feel so generic that you could put the music in the background of just about any fantasy video game post-2015 and call it good. I couldn’t get a sense of any of the different people or cultures you encounter. It all sounded like Judkins handed Balfe a Pure Moods CD from 1997 and said, “Make it like this, but dramatic“. I listened to the album a second time, and came to the same conclusion.
But you never know. The music might make more sense after I’d seen the show. After all, I thought Hans Zimmer’s Dune soundtrack was good before I saw the film, and now I think it’s one of the best film scores I’ve heard in years.
So I watched the first three episodes of The Wheel of Time last night, and so far… It’s fine. The acting is fine, the costumes are fine, the script is fine. The cinematography is fine, too, though I’m not sold on the visuals. The picture is a bit oversharpened and a little too smooth. My coworkers and I watched the trailer and were trying to figure out if that effect (which, honestly, makes it look cheap) was due to a fast frame rate, or if it was just a matter of its being shot a certain way and oversampled. Or, perhaps, it was a matter of the post-processing. But to my eye, the picture is sharper than it should be. There’s so much detail that is so precisely rendered and (too often) evenly lit that it draws attention to the fact that it’s a digital effect.
Also, why are there so many candles in the Two Rivers’ inn? So. Many. Candles. Candles can take a long time to make, and unless they’re made with tallow (which smells bad), you’re going to be going through a boatload of beeswax, which in a little community like that is not exactly a plentiful commodity. And why are the white clothes so eye-searingly white? Do these people carry tanks of bleach with them?
So on the whole, the first three episodes of The Wheel of Time were fine, but unless it ratchets its overall quality up by a lot, I can’t see it having the cultural cachet that Game of Thrones claimed from its first episode.
As far as the changes they made… Well, choices were made. But it’s never a good look when a showrunner creates a female character out of whole cloth, and then kills her off in the first episode so a male character has something to be sad about. That’s a sexist trope that should have died in the 90s. Let’s not do that anymore, shall we?
Right now, I’m planning to watch the next episode. Will I watch the rest of the series? I don’t know. We’ll see.
It’s been a while since I did crafty things! I’ve been a little “eh” on sewing, partly, I think, because my current project is so utterly mundane, and the materials aren’t all that fun to work with. I’ve had a linen kitchen towel pinned and ready to hem for weeks, but I haven’t bothered to actually do it. For one thing, I’ve already made two and they’re working just fine. For another, the linen fabric I got is thicker, and so is the thread. So it’s harder to do the stitching, which means it makes my hands ache.
But! I had about forty-five minutes to kill while waiting for my car’s oil change, so I walked over to the craft store and wandered around. I was still feeling a bit sleepy and uninspired, but then I saw this little set of unfinished drawers modeled after a library card catalog. I fell in love right away, but couldn’t think of anything I would use it for. A few minutes later, though, I realized that I’d been needing something for my sewing supplies, as their previous box was overflowing.
So I bought the box, and once I picked my car up I headed to the hardware store to buy some sandpaper and woodstain. I picked a dark walnut tone, went home, gave the drawers a light sanding, and set to work.
I applied the first coat of stain, and for the most part, it looked fine as it was, but there were a couple of sides where it looked like I hadn’t evenly coated the wood, so I waited for the first coat to dry, and gave the drawers a second coat.
After a few more hours of letting everything dry and set, I put the drawers back in place and let the whole thing sit overnight.
The next day, I took some of my prettiest scrapbooking paper and trimmed down four sections to use as drawer liners, as the dark stain made it difficult to see things at the bottom.
I still need to make labels for each of the drawers, but at least now my sewing supplies are more spread out and easier to find. No more digging around to get to that particular red silk thread, or the blue linen. No more chasing after my No. 10 sharp needles! It’s also inspired me to clean up and reorganize the shelves in my studio. Hopefully, after that, I’ll be able to find things more easily, which always helps me get and stay inspired to create things.