Last week was a week. It was very much a week. I’m glad it was over.
To make a long story short, it involved a lot of stress and me having to solve problems of other people’s making, punctuated by a day of feeling like the bottom of a shoe for an entire evening the day after I got my Covid booster and flu shot. That was my day off, and after a morning of running around doing errands and an afternoon of doing housework, I spent my evening on my couch with barely enough energy to make dinner for myself. I watched three movies on Netflix (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Ocean’s Eleven) because I felt too sick to move, but I also couldn’t fall asleep. I felt much better the next day, but it was a heck of a way to spend my day off.
The back half of last week was much better, though, as I watched and loved the season finale of The Rings of Power, and listened to my alma mater’s volleyball team thoroughly dominate their opponent. Then on Saturday, I had a good day at work and finally had a day of lovely weather topped off by a nice sunset.
So it wasn’t an entirely awful week, but I am glad it’s over.
If you recall my update from last Sunday, my friend L and I were planning to go to a nearby town’s autumn festival. Because the weather was fantastic and nothing else popped up to ruin our plans, L and I drove the 70-ish miles to the little town on the river. It turned out that most of the events and displays had happened on Saturday, but there was still plenty to do on Sunday. The town is known for its shops and museums, so we checked out a couple of art galleries, two museums, an antique shop, a used bookstore, and a few other shops before heading over to the winery and settling down in the shade on the patio with a charcuteries board and a bottle of wine. We sat and talked for about an hour (I was devoured by bugs. I still have red spots from all the bites), and just enjoyed the beautiful day. After wandering around town for a little while longer and checking out another few shops, we headed home. The only thing that would have made the day better? Having more friends with us.
I only took a few photos all day:
On Saturday evening, I headed out to the lake to see the sunset. I also ended up watching an adventurous duckling swim most of the way across the lake all by itself and do some exploring before it went back to its flock.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
Yes, she’s spoiled.
Earlier this week, though, she discovered that the hair trap over the drain will most if you push it just right, and then she figured out how to pull it up. She also discovered it is lightweight and will skitter around like one of her toys when she bats it with her paw. As I don’t want to find the hair trap to my drain in the middle of my kitchen or on the bed, I have banned her from hanging out in the bathtub. So far, she has complained mightily, but I am holding firm.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, audiobook narrated by Nadia May
- Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Northanger Abbey was as fun as usual. The parts that spoof the melodramatic Gothic novels that were popular while Austen was writing this were as funny as ever (you just want to sit Catherine down and say, “sweetie, no”), and watching Catherine fall for Mr. Tilney is always interesting. I still want to throw things at the Thorpes.
I had tried to read Certain Dark Things a few years ago, and didn’t finish it at the time, but I figured I would try it again this Spooky Season. I mean, it’s one of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s books, and it’s about vampires. Should be perfect, right? Well, overall, it was fine. It’s definitely an early effort from an author whose books I usually like, and I didn’t find it as engaging as her other books. I think part of it had to do with the fact that it’s a relatively short book (about 272 pages) with, I think, five different points of view. It just felt like too many, as so much of the book ended up being character introductions. I think that if the number of perspectives had been pared down to just two or three, the whole story would have been more engaging, as we would have been able to get deeper into the heads of those few characters. I’m glad I read it, but it wasn’t my favorite of Moreno-Garcia’s books.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims (144/387)
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (272/1216)
- A Wizard of Earthsea (The Books of Earthsea #1) by Ursula K LeGuin, audiobook narrated by Rob Inglis (76%)
I promise I am enjoying Thirteen Storeys. It’s just that this past week was lousy for reading physical books. But the stories are wonderfully eerie so far and remind me of many of the various entries in another of Sims’s projects, the podcast The Magnus Archives. I’m not sure yet how these individual stories will come together to form a whole, but I know Sims is fully capable of doing so. I’m planning to take a chunk of time later today to get through more of this book.
I also got through far less of The Lord of the Rings than I’d hoped. My annotating slows things down a lot, and again, my time for reading physical books was almost non-existent last week, so I only got through the chapter ‘The Council of Elrond’. But now that the Fellowship is on the move, I anticipate that I’ll be picking up the pace as they head southward through Hollin and toward the Mines of Moria. It has been quite interesting, though, to see the lore from the Second Age show up in chapters like this one. I also noticed that the opening line of The Rings of Power comes directly from ‘The Council of Elrond’. Gandalf says there, ‘Nothing is evil in the beginning’, which is exactly what Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel says in the first moments of the first episode.
I decided that I wanted a short audiobook to listen to, so I broke away from my spooky reading plans when I saw that Rob Inglis’ narration of Ursula K. LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea was available through the Hoopla app. It’s been a while since I last read this book, which I always enjoy. I’ve never finished the series, though, despite having the full set in one book, illustrated by Chris Riddell. I’ve only read the first three books, and that was a long time ago, so I have a lot to catch up on. I’ve reached the part where Ged has finally decided to face the shadow that has been hunting him for so long. It’s interesting that, while he comes to be known for his incredible magical powers and the things he has done, many of those things were done (like the incident with the dragon) so he could protect the people he’d been living with so he could leave to also protect him from the shadow. LeGuin had such a gift for telling profound stories with brevity and economy. I’m looking forward to seeing how she matured as a writer through these books, as the series spans some thirty years of her career.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
- There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness by Carlo Rovelli, audiobook narrated by Landon Woodson
I bought The Hollow Places at my local used bookshop back in August with the thought that I would read it in October. Now that we’re halfway through the month, I should probably get to it.
I’ve had There are Places in the World Where Rules are Less Important Than Kindness on hold from my library for some time, and it arrived for me a couple of days ago. I will finish up A Wizard of Earthsea and then start on it. I’ve read two of Rovelli’s books and found both of them to describe scientific processes and ideas in concise and beautiful ways, and I anticipate this one being the same way.
A quick rundown of other media I’ve been interested in this week:
- The Rings of Power
This! This whole show has been wonderful, and I’m sad that the first season is already over. I love all of these characters (except, like, Pharazon, who is going to end up as a villain), I love their friendships, I love the romantic couples– especially the dynamics between Arondir and Bronwyn, which was the romantic part I was a bit worried about, but it was handled pretty much perfectly in my book– I love the visuals and the costumes, and pretty much everything about it. There were parts of the finale when I was in tears, and parts that I almost leaped off my couch and cheered. And there was one character reveal (we were all asking “which one of them is Sauron??” from the beginning) that I had predicted thanks to the scoring. I listened to the piece, ‘Sauron’ from Bear McCreary’s score and realized that the theme was the same, just played differently, as another character’s theme. When you start to learn how composers use particular elements, intervals, keys, and tempos to define their themes and leitmotifs, you start to be able to essentially read the story through the music. Does this cause some spoilers? Sure. Am I going to stop listening carefully to soundtracks? Nope. I enjoy being able to understand the musical cues, and doing so deepens my appreciation of the show I’m watching. I will be rewatching The Rings of Power quite soon. If I don’t start that this week, I’ll do so next week.
I’ve been following along with the substack Dracula Daily since it started back in May. What happens with this subscription is that every day a letter, diary entry, news article, or whatever else happens in Stoker’s epistolary novel, we get the part of the book that corresponds with that day. So we’re essentially reading the book in real-time, which gives us a better sense of either how quickly or slowly certain events happen. What also happens– on Tumblr, specifically– is that a lot of comments, jokes, memes, and background information are shared by subscribers. All of this has really given me a new understanding of the book and the characters, who feel much deeper and more realistically human than they do when I’m reading Dracula in a few sittings, the way I would normally do.
Re: Dracula is an upcoming podcast that will be doing the same thing beginning next May, but in a podcast format with soundscaping and voice actors bringing the individual characters to life. The producers will be presenting a text-accurate version of the story, with the egregious racial slurs removed, and with the queer subtext present. During the summer, when the novel’s entries are a bit thin on the ground, there will be interviews with scholars and others that deal with Dracula‘s historical background, racial issues, and the latent queer undertones. The cast includes such talents as Karim Kronfli, Ben Galpin, Isabel Adomakoh Young, Beth Eyre, Giancarlo Herrera, Jonathan Sims, Alasdair Stewart, Sasha Sienna, and others.
They’re running a crowdfunding campaign on Seed and Spark. They’ve reached one of their big stretch goals of $20,000, and now are reaching toward the $25,000 mark, at which point they’ll write and record a concept album based on Dracula. I chipped in a little bit because reading Dracula this way has been so much fun, and the podcast sounds like it will be amazing.
- The Magnus Archives
I got into The Magnus Archives last spring, thanks to a friend’s recommendation on Discord. I fell in love with its style, stories, and characters. It ended in early 2021, though, so I thought that was the end. I figured I’d just be re-listening to it once in a while and reading fanfiction whenever the mood struck. But starting about a week and a half ago, TMA’s production company, Rusty Quill, started releasing cryptic messages and encoded clues on their social media accounts. This culminated in the announcement of The Magnus Archives 2, and that there would be a press release about it on October 30th. This, naturally, caused part of the fandom to melt down. Some can’t wait to see what’s happening, while others are a bit salty about what they see as a cash grab. I’m curious to see what they’re planning to do, and I have a feeling that whatever is in the works, they’ve been planning it since they were working on the initial run of the show.
More to come…