I traveled this week.
I didn’t go far. Just to my parents’ house, and that’s only about a two-and-a-half-hour drive, but still. It was the farthest I have been from home in two years. I had forgotten how tedious that drive can be, and how frustrating it is when you come upon a couple of semi-trailer trucks trying to pass another one. Everything slows way down, and of course, I’ll end up with some guy in an SUV following me too closely, as though I can miraculously make the trucks go faster so he can continue speeding on his way.
I have long since decided not to be intimidated by impatient people in large vehicles, so I just roll my eyes at their behavior and keep on as I was. I can’t control traffic any more than they can, and they’ll just have to deal with it.
Otherwise, my trip to my hometown was great. My parents and grandmother are all doing well, and I got to see my brother and his two youngest kids for the first time in about three years (they live eight hours away, so coordinating winter holidays isn’t always feasible thanks to bad weather). My sister and her family were there, too, so we all got to spend time together. And play a full version of the family card game (which my mom won, to no one’s surprise). So on the whole, a great couple of days away.
I thought the cats would be excited to see me when I got home, but their response was “Oh. It’s you. You know you’re late in getting us our treats, right?”.
Obligatory Mina Photo
This is a look that says, “Mom, I was trying to nap. Why are you taking more pictures of me?”
To be fair, she was indeed trying to nap, but she looked so cute sitting on her blanket (before she gave me the irritated look) and I had to get to work, so I had to take the shot I could get. You’d think she’d be used to the camera by now, as she lives with a photographer, but she hasn’t quite figured it out yet. She just gives me an annoyed look or straight up ignores me whenever the camera comes out. Kind of like a human teenager.
She got to spend the rest of the day sleeping, so I don’t feel bad about interrupting her nap. I was the one who had to go to work, after all, while she stayed at home and lazed about. She has the better end of this deal.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- 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
- The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa, translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai, ARC provided by NetGalley
- The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore’s Scores by Doug Adams
How Music Works is a guide to the fundamentals of music. Powell walks the reader through things like “what is a note?” or “how does an instrument make a sound?” or “what is a scale?”. Very simple things, but they’re very important to know if you want to understand more advanced musical concepts like the Phrygian scale. Do I have a basic background in music? Yes. Did I learn a lot from this book? Also yes. I definitely recommend it if you’re curious about music and want to learn more about why songs sound the way they do.
The Cat Who Saved Books is a charming book about an introverted Japanese high school boy named Rintaro whose guardian, his grandfather, dies unexpectedly. Rintaro is very bookish and feels like he doesn’t belong at school, so while he is sad that his grandfather’s bookstore seems doomed to close, he just doesn’t have the will to keep it going by himself. One day, a talking cat shows up in the bookshop and asks for Rintaro’s help in rescuing books. Thus begins an adventure that teaches Rintaro about the love of books, the nature of reading, and even more about himself. I thought this book was wonderful, and it brought tears to my eyes a couple of times. I definitely recommend this for people who enjoy books about books, for people who enjoy Japanese cat books, and people who like cat stories.
The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films is an in-depth and rather technical account of the themes and leitmotifs of Howard Shore’s film scores for The Lord of the Rings films. Adams describes the many leitmotifs (themes that occur throughout a long musical piece that are associated with a certain character or theme) that appear in the films (there are a lot of them) and explains how they appear in the film and change throughout as the characters develop and the story builds and builds to its dramatic conclusion. I’d heard about this book several times on the Prancing Pony Podcast, but I hadn’t paid it much mind until I listened to the soundtrack to Prime’s show, The Wheel of Time, and found it largely disappointing. I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain why I didn’t like it, so I sought out a few books to help me learn more about music, and I finally checked out a copy of The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films from the library and delved into it. I learned so much about this music, and I appreciate it so much more now that I know how and why the themes develop the way that they do. It’s also helped me to understand why I don’t like the Wheel of Time soundtrack so far, as the themes feel like they’re subsumed under the songs’ percussion sections, and don’t really develop through what’s released. Now, I realize that there is more music to come from season one, but if it’s anything like the first hour of music that’s available, I’m not hopeful.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye, audiobook narrated by Simon Vance (49%)
- Absynthe by Brendan Bellecourt, ARC provided by NetGalley (14%)
- For the Love of Music: A Conductor’s Guide to the Art of Listening by John Mauceri (25/224)
The Whole Art of Detection contains more of Lyndsay Faye’s Sherlock Holmes pastiche stories. They are fast-paced, lively, and so so clever. I’m thoroughly enjoying this collection, and Vance’s narration is as fantastic as always. I can’t think of any other narrators who would do as good of a job as he does. I’ve got about half the book to go, and I anticipate listening to a large chunk of it today while doing my random Sunday things.
Brendan Bellecourt is Bradley Beaulieu’s new pseudonym for his science fiction novels. When I found that out, I perked up, as I have heard a lot of praise for Beaulieu’s Sharakhai books. So far, though, I’m unimpressed. I see the premise, and I have a guess as to where things might be going, but the writing is very clunky. There have been passages where I stop to mentally edit entire sentences, and that’s not a great thing to have happen when you’re trying to get lost in the story. Still, I’m interested enough to continue, and so far there have been no egregious problems. Just a lot of graceless prose.
I’m not that far into For the Love of Music thanks to my inability to pick it up at a reasonable time. I keep grabbing it late at night after I’ve gotten ready to go to bed. I’ll get a few pages into it, and then start to fall asleep. It’s not because the book is bad, it’s just that it’s late and I’m reading in bed, so I get really sleepy and then can’t keep my eyes open. The plan this week is to pick a better reading time so I can further into the book without falling asleep.
I haven’t been watching anything (except QI on BritBox) or listening to much of anything (except excerpts from The Lord of the Rings soundtracks) this week, thanks to a busy schedule. Last Sunday I attended one friend’s 30th birthday, and last night I attended another friend’s 40th birthday party. In between that, I went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, which meant I was out of town and away from my projects for two days. And on Tuesday night, I was doing all the housework I wasn’t going to be able to do on my day off. Fun times.
So no fun projects or TV shows or anything like that. I was busy being all social and stuff.
But I have few plans for this week, so I’ll be back to crafting and reading and maybe a bit of TV or music along the way.