She also took some pictures, which I’m sharing here with permission and much glee.
( +8, Hanging in the garden on hot days )
We took M to a nearby Country Fair, because if you’re going to visit rural Worcestershire you might as well have a properly agricultural experience. With locally brewed cider. And a “guess the weight of the pregnant pig” contest.
( +8, Pony ride, bouncy castle )
And finally, because M was here during 4 July, which perhaps understandably is not quite as big a deal in Britain as it is in the United States, we had a Revolting Colonial Day barbecue. The bloke retaliated by inviting a bunch of Brits to come over and help celebrate. We may have been outnumbered, but I think we made up for it with attitude. :D
Oops, I forgot to update for a while! Mostly for fun reasons -- I've been pretty social and busy. A few weekends ago, I drove up to New Jersey to visit harmonyangel, and pocky_slash (who came down from the Northeast to meet us in the middle.) It was very low-key and since it was a hot weekend, we mostly lounged in the air conditioning and/or in the backyard pool while drinking sangria and talking about fandom. I now have weird bits of RENT and/or hockey trivia in my head, plus we all watched the Rogue cut of X-Men:Days of Future Past and yelled about our feelings (my feelings are almost exclusively about Erik's face and Raven's face and the opportunities that the filmmakers took to dress Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence up in a variety of outfits. I wish I could analyze that movie on a deeper level but that's just not a thing my brain is good for; I still enjoy this movie a lot, though I wish there had actually been more Rogue in it, since that's what was advertised.)
This past weekend, inlovewithnight came to visit, and we took a maybe not too well-advised but completely rewarding road trip down to Norfolk to see a Drive-By Truckers show; we are such jaded fans that we mostly sat at a table in the upper balcony and listened instead of trying to watch the band, though toward the end the railing cleared out and we watched the encore set from there. It was kind of an odd show -- Patterson's song choices seemed pretty political, starting with "Ronnie & Neil" which addresses Southern identity in a way that's hard not to read in light of his recent anti-Confederate flag comments, and "Used to be a Cop." (Cooley's were more 'fuck politics, I am gonna sing about being a sad drunk who makes bad relationship decisions,' which is very on brand). Patterson hardly said anything to the mike though -- it was mostly pure music. Also Cooley's hair is back to looking like he cut it himself with the aid of a cereal bowl; God bless this ridiculous band.
Then we came back to Richmond and, the next morning, got brunch and watched Ant-Man, which we both loved a lot (it's a funny heist movie, in the vein of Leverage, set in the Marvel U, and Paul Rudd is super endearing.) inlovewithnight has already written me fic. My friends are great.
So that's really about it. Now for books!
• What are you currently reading?
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu. This is a very popular Chinese science fiction novel from a few years ago, which was translated into English last year and has been nominated for the Hugo. I wasn't expecting to dig this but I like it a lot -- it's different from anything I've read, and hard to describe, but, I don't know, I'm into it? Unless this takes a dive at the end, it's going to get my Best Novel vote for the Hugo. (I tried to read The Goblin Emperor which so many people whose taste I respect love but could. not. do. it. I also finished and liked Ancillary Sword, but it definitely feels like a middle chapter, and most of the interesting character and world-building elements are carry-overs from Ancillary Justice; I won't mind if it wins, obviously, but the Liu book stands out to me more.)
Broken Harbor by Tana French. Finally revisiting this Dublin Murder Squad book that was stuck in my car CD player for like 3 months! Now I have a functioning CD player so I picked it back up. (I returned it and checked it out again, my library isn't THAT generous.) This got off to a slower start than the previous few in the series, but I like it and it was particularly a relief to get back to after the previous book I finished which was in a similar genre and not. very. good. See below.
A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare. So I've been trying to sample some of the current popular romance writers and the first few I tried I did not get anywhere with. (I'm not avoiding mentioning them, I literally don't remember the names.) But I'm finding Dare's characters and writing style very enjoyable, and though she's clearly not making much/any effort to keep her characters' attitudes and language realistic to the Regency period (not that there weren't women in that era with proto-feminist attitudes, but these very clearly feel like modern characters plunked down into the era, and could be tweaked very slightly into plausible contemporary plots, ie, no 'THEY WERE COMPROMISED AND SO THEY MUST GET MARRIED!!!' storylines), she nonetheless throws in enough of a historical framework that it makes sense for the books to be set there. This one is the start of the 'Spindle Cove' series, about a seaside town that sets itself up as a haven for unconventional/'unmarriageable' women. Of course, an injured soldier from the Napoleonic wars shows up and teh dramaz ensue, but not in an over the top way. I can see this will be a fun setup for a series. Also, the sex scenes are well done and blessedly devoid of euphemisms.
• What did you recently finish reading?
My first Tessa Dare, Say Yes to the Marquess (from a different series; all her titles are kind of cringe-worthy -- but the covers are very pretty!) Also, Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, the not-so-great thriller I mentioned above -- this is supposed to be the British Gone Girl or something, but really didn't live up to that. The audiobook was perfectly adequate entertainment for the drive to/from New Jersey, but the twists were not all that twisty and, while I admire the author for framing the story around the point of views of three not-very-likable women, their problems all came back to some tropes that I'm so very done with. ( Spoiler cut )
Finally, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, which I just devoured, and which is the best book -- definitely the best 'literary novel' -- I've read in ages. It is not a happy book -- deals with sexual assault, cancer, parental death, AIDS, untreated depression, badly treated depression, marital strife, basically every bad thing EXCEPT death/peril of children (although there is a rather creepy storyline about an unconventional kind of emotional abuse and a non-explicit subplot about child labor), which I think is worth mentioning -- but it's not as relentless as all that makes it out. Basically, it's the story of a group of friends who meet at a performing arts camp in the 1970s, and all of the list above are of various things that happen to characters over the course of the next forty years (up to the present, basically.) So these are all things that happen to one or other of the characters over a very long time. And on one level it's maybe TOO real because, well, chances are with a group of people who know each other well over 40 years, this is the kind of thing that will happen. And, anyway, I felt a lot of empathy for these characters, even though I haven't really lived this kind of life or had these kinds of expectations or made these kinds of friendships. I just found it all very resonant. If you like this sort of thing, which I do, this may be the sort of thing you like.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
I have managed not to read any book-length nonfiction this year, so I have Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me on Kindle to rectify that. Also more romance novels, probably.
On our first expedition, we rode the Red Line from Silver Spring to Judiciary Square, and walked from there to the Air and Space Museum. Judiciary Square was eerily deserted. I got the feeling it was a bit like being in the City (in London) at the weekend: places that are absolutely heaving Monday through Friday are completely empty on Saturday and Sunday.
( +15, Air & Space Museum )
After all the tech, I wanted to spend a little time appreciating nature so we headed for the nearby Botanic Gardens. I was hoping to get a cup of tea there, but it turns out to be pretty much the only place on the Mall that doesn’t have a cafe. I had a quick spin through the glass houses and then went back to the Smithsonians.
( +5, Botanic Gardens )
I chose to have my late lunch and very delayed cup of tea in the National Museum of the American Indian. I later discovered that I’d chosen one of the best of the overpriced Smithsonian cafes to eat in, according to the locals in the wedding party. I did think my enchiladas were pretty good at the time, but it was still nice to have my unintentional good judgment validated!
The very beautiful internal architecture of the mostly harrowing National Museum of the American Indian. I didn’t take any other photos inside, just experienced all the exhibits, which apart from the modern ones designed by Native Americans, were pretty unremittingly depressing. It’s kind of hard for them not to be when the treatment of native peoples by the US government was (is…) appalling for most of the US’s history.
Keiki sat with me and quietly watched a fifteen minute film about the tragic nineteenth century removals of native peoples from their land, so when he took a shine to a rattle in a Navajo design in the shop afterward, I got it for him. It’s now one of his favourite toys.
Sunburn , Spike/Buffy by foxstarreh.
Who's That Girl , Buffy/Tara by velvetwhip.
Chapter Five of The Former Nameless Fiction now known as What If I Loved You? by slaymesoftly.
Girls Like Girls! A femslash ficathon (go do the thing!).
fantas_magoria re-watches "Amends" .
TinyFences podcast talks Reptile Boy.
Storywonk podcast talks Bad Girls .
AngelRewatch podcast talks Loyalty.
Who knows how the coming Vorkosiverse book will pan out, but this one at least is definitely worth paying some money for.
I suspect that Bujold may just be burned out on long-form writing lately, and honestly that's not surprising. A lot of authors seem to hit Novel #20 or so at a slog, and you can just feel how fritzed out they are, wandering off down plotless paths of "well, this is an interesting idea" that utterly fail to go anywhere. But short-form doesn't demand as much in terms of plot-depth, and lets the author wallow around happily in a small bit of world-building and one or two engaging characters. That's where Penric's Demon falls.
(Incidentally, it's where A Net of Dawn and Bones could also have fallen if Vathara hadn't, unwisely in my opinion, tried to make a larger work of it.)
tl;dr: yeah, buy it, it's way cool.
Boo to me.
New things both real life related and otherwise:
- My dog is getting used to being alone during the day and to hearing other people in the building. For a while things were really dire with her and I was worried I was ruining her life and it might be better just to give her to my parents, where she's happy. But she's slowly growing accustomed. Every day it gets a little easier to get her to eat. And every work day she freaks out at me a little less when I get home. And when my parents' dog comes to visit she literally cannot abide his presence.
- I still haven't remembered what I used to do with my time before I started spending all of it on the bus. It's a process. It'll come back to me. Sure is relaxing to have so little to do...
- I wrote Portal fic for not_primetime with which I am only partly satisfied. I hit most of the notes I wanted to hit with it, but it went tonally weird and the final result is way darker than I meant it to be. I also am not sure it's entirely necessary, as a story. But I did get to turn a couple of clever phrases, so I'm happy. I'll probably repost it here eventually, but for now you can read it at AO3.
- There is a giant thunderstorm going on over here right now! Puppy is not into it at all.
- I watched all of Hannibal minus this past week's episode, all over the last 4 days or so. Marathoned something like 12 episodes of it just yesterday, actually, and I can't even tell you how weird my sleep was last night. What is the fandom for this show like? I'm afraid to look. o__O
Why isn’t the Buffy/Xander pairing more popular?
There is another discussion about how much people miss LiveJournal and how it's incredibly difficult to follow discussions on Tumblr. Even the interesting ones.
So, if anybody would like to weigh in the above question here on LJ, feel free! The original post by ilikemyshipsnotyours is linked above.
Kill the Witch , Spike/Willow by dragonyphoenix.
Temptation , Spike/Dawn by vikingprincess and virtualperson.
Giles/Joyce video by rbfvid.
Buffyverse and AtSverse icons by red_satin_doll.
Buffyverse and AtSverse icons by sweet_lyri.
The AVClub gives us "10 episodes of Angel that show how it was more than Buffy redux".
Not long before the Shauns left London, Keiki and I stole a day during the very short gap between our trips to Turkey and Washington DC in May to take a final shot at bagging all the sculptures. We’d nabbed 16 on our first go and done the hardest of the four trails, so I thought we had a fair chance of doing at least two more. As it turned out, we managed exactly two trails and 17 more Shauns before my feet and shoulders called time on the adventure. I reckon we could have gotten halfway through the third trail before we had to get our train back to Birmingham, but I would’ve been crying by the time we got home. It’s not so bad carrying a baby, a rucksack full of baby stuff and a dSLR for a couple of hours, but when you’re spending the whole day on your feet, it can get to be a bit much.
We popped out of Oxford Street tube station around 11 AM and immediately set about our first task: Shaun’s Trail, involving 11 Shauns.
Baa-bushka, Carnaby Street
( +17 including several ridiculous selfies )
Since I was still feeling pretty strong and Keiki had had a nap and a feed during the first trail, we headed back up toward Covent Garden and launched directly into Timmy’s Trail, which involved 7 Shauns.
Me, Keiki and Flash! Photo by some nice French tourists.
( +12 )
I began walking toward Temple station with the intention of doing a bit of the trail in the City before heading back to Euston, but once I arrived at Temple and sat down to await a train, I realised I was not up for it and would be better off returning to Euston, having a coffee and a bit of cake and then boarding the train home. So I did, regretfully abandoning the London hunt at 34 out of 50 Shauns. Still, I think we didn’t do too badly!
50 years and one day ago, rock music was 3-minute songs about cars and teenage love, and folk music was dull acoustic music about poverty. 50 years ago today, 25 July 1965, Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival. Fans booed, Pete Seeger tried to cut the juice with an axe, the MC begged Dylan on his knees to go find an acoustic guitar... Dylan gave zero fucks and thundered through the possibly shortest set to ever change music history, just three songs.
I try my best to be just like I am
But everybody wants you to be just like them
They say "Sing while you slave!" ...I just get bored.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more!
Ain't it hard when you discovered that
He really wasn't where it's at?
After he took from you everything he could steal...
How does it feel?
I wanna be your lover baby, I don't wanna be your boss
Don't say I never warned you when your train gets lost!
And anyone who thought this was a passing phase might have noted that when he did borrow an acoustic guitar for the encore, it was a very pointed "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue".
Happy graduation day, rock and roll.
Morituri Te , Spike/OCs by rahirah.
Only Human , Spike/Buffy by musicbitch.
Termites and Redheads , Spike/Xander by forsaken2003.
Crisis , Giles/Willow by punch_kicker15.
Coulrophobia, Xander/Willow by badly_knitted.
Chapter Two of Even in Darkness by pookitoots.
More thinky thoughts on Season Three by beccaelizabeth.
Geekscape rates "The 13 Best ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Monsters-Of-The-Week!".
EW talks Spike vs. Angel.
And more importantly, EW re-watches The Body .
A feline fan .
"snort" Tumblr people miss LJ...
- catch up on East of West
- read the issues of New Mutants that are on MU
- continue on with Claremont Uncanny X-Men (I'm reading the Brood Saga right now)
- Whedon's Uncanny X-Men
- Uncanny X-Force (Remender)
Hilariously, these make for a much shorter list than last time, even though I haven't read most of what was on the old list. I guess I just got pickier?
And summer is comics season.
( Cyclops, No More Humans, Amazing X-Men, Dark Phoenix Saga )
Because I'm still quite proud of it, I append my latest macro shot of a white plume moth that I disturbed whilst weeding the garden:
This entry is not cross-posted to Livejournal.
Keiki, me and Bagpuss Shaun in the Cabot Circus shopping centre.
( +15 )
Chapter Three of Nameless Fiction by slaymesoftly.
fantas_magoria re-watches "The Wish" .
Thinky thoughts on Season Ten, Issue No. Seventeen by shapinglight. And more thoughts on same by kikimay and thoughts by rahirah.
AngelRewatch podcast talks Couplet .
Take Buzzfeed 's Spike quiz.
Title: Giles and the Mountain
Word count: 1950
Summary: Young Giles and a friend attempt to scale a mountain. Spoiler: It doesn't go well.
The summer before the start of university Giles and his friend were looking for adventure...
Now and then, I scan through the backups and find that I missed something.
Like Humuhumu at Latitude Festival last Saturday, sitting on a carousel horsie, wearing sunglasses and a perfect Mona Lisa smile. MY HEART
Keiki and I went to London in May to hunt sheep on the Shaun in the City sculpture trails. We bagged the two farthest-flung sheep in Canary Wharf and then headed back in to London Bridge to complete the longest of the four trails.
Keiki and me reflected in the face of Shaun the Golden Fleece in Canary Wharf.
( +23 )
We ended up completing three of the four London trails by dint of doing two in one day. Sadly that was just before the London portion of the exhibition ended, as we were out of the country for substantial chunks of May. There are 70 Shauns in the Bristol exhibition and thus far we've found 10. I'm hoping we can go down for a weekend next month and do more than one trail at a go!
So I watched it, and... err, I have to say that I'm rather more worried about it now than I was before.
Not only have they apparently changed Stormgren from a UN Ambassador to some random American everyman, but the characters in the trailer are all quite white, which makes me wonder if they're also going to change the ending and completely cut out the book's other protagonist Jan Rodricks, a scientist who ( spoilers ). Or alternatively whitewash him, which would be far worse, especially considering that a non-white main character was a Pretty Big Deal in a book published in 1953, and to have a mini series in 2015 undo it would be just sad.