Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for July 26, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.

 

Dear Internet,

You can follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished
sickofshadows
Sick of Shadows: Edwardian Murder Mysteries #3 by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)

Our Lady of Pain: Edwardian Murder Mysteries #4 by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)

(Reviews for book #1 and book #2)

There is no stretch in the research or imagination here, and if I had not been well attuned to Ms. Chesney/Beaton’s writing style from before, I would probably like the book even less but you know, at the end of the day, it’s a frippery of a read that while it may not have educated me, it did keep me entertained.

The Edwardian Mystery series provided a borderline dull, and often choppy, story arc of boy meets stubborn girl, boy handles his feelings badly, girl saves the day plotline that went three books longer than it should have. As I said in the review for the first book,
ourladyofpain

Books #3 and #4 were almost identical to books #1 and #2. There is really nothing I can say here that would be so markedly different from previous attempts to review the series other than to reiterate Beaton’s research prowess because that is where she shines.

If you’re looking for a story of substance, thought provoking, and full of win – this is not your series.

 

 

amadwickedfollyA Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)

Something is missing from this novel. It could have been a lot more and yet, it played it safe. You knew what was going to happen in the very end, because the author made it all painfully clear this is what is going to happen through the entire book. There was no twist. No surprises. Not even a really original thought going into this book given the author’s history (she lived in England for nearly a decade and had access to primary sources) and the fairly nice bibliography at the end of the book. The book is just mediocre and a let down, but it gets 3 stars because technically it is well written, even if the storyline seems meh.

The author could have made this really beguiling and filled with wonder, but instead she made it feel tightly corseted and maybe a titch overedited.

Pros
Story was fast paced and read quickly
Plot was pretty well organized and was linear
There was not an abundance of useless characters
When the author was on point about a scene, she got it brilliantly well (but this was more rare than one would hope)

Cons
Use of language: Edwardian England is a class filled society, yet everyone spoke the same: Her parents, Will, the French boys at the atelier, and so forth. She could have least tried to make an effort, but instead, this seems sloppy and lazy.
Colloquialisms: Example: In the beginning, she had her parents say “Oxford University,” despite no one actually calls it that. She would often fob Vicky’s use of American colloquialisms onto Lucy, Vicky’s best friend from America. Considering Vicky and Lucy are not BFFs for first half of the book, this doesn’t make sense.
Flavor of the period: Despite her meticulous research, you don’t feel like you’re in Edwardian England. Something is just off when she tries inject something that would give it a hint of realism, so then it feels stilted.
Character development: Other than Will or Vicky, you don’t really get a sense of who these people are. Even Vicky’s mother, whom we find out has a connection to Vicky’s choice in life, seems to be absently shallow.

Watching

  • The Bridge
    The unbearable hotness of Demian Bichir is baaacccckkk! This time with more depressing topics. In the few episodes shown thus far, the storyline feels tighter and better thought out; there is less a million sub plots thrown against the wall to see what sticks and turning it into a hot mess. This show has grown on me but we cannot watch it every week because it’s just far too depressing.
  • Project Runway
    It’s pretty clear the series doesn’t work without Heidi Klum. Tim Gunn’s Under the Gunn was an interesting twist to the format, but it seemed stilted. Project Runway – All Stars, which is sans Klum, also doesn’t have the same appeal. Klum just cannot leave. The End.  Can we also request that Michael Kors not ever leave? Zac Pozen is no where Near Kors’ brilliance or bitchiness and Pozen feels overwrought half the time when he starts critiquing. TheHusband has already picked out who will win season 13 based on the very first episode. I wonder if he is right.
  • The Almighty Johnsons
    NZ show that is now being carried on SyFy here in the States; the premise is four brothers who become gods on their 21st birthdays, in reincarnated forms of the old Norse gods. Throw in destiny, some goddesses out to destroy, and half-hearted prophecy and boom, TV show. Interesting concept, not terribly well executed, but is loads better than what is available on most channels.

Weekly watching: The LeftoversTrue BloodRectifyHalt and Catch Fire, A Place To Call Home, Last Week Tonight with John OliverCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyElementary

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?

x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2010, 2008

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for July 19, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.

 

Dear Internet,

You can follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished

raisingsteam
Raising Steam by Sir Terry Pratchett
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)

What I love most about Pratchett is his fantastical ability to create a Discworldian history over the probable cause of a “thing” that we have always accepted as part of our reality. The history of rock and roll, banks, postal service, newspapers (to name a few), and now the steam revolution have all been given a history with a very Pratchett twist to them.

But here’s the thing that finally dawned on me as I read Raising Steam – PTerry has always, ALWAYS been a shower, not a teller. Witty dialogue, great character development, fantastic descriptions, and footnotes that would melt your heart are the reasons why he is one of the few authors I continue to pre-order their books. But something is shifting now — I noticed it in Dodger where things didn’t seem quite on the up and up with his writing but I couldn’t figure out WHY. And the more I got into Raising Steam, the more I realised what was missing — PTerry is becoming a teller. Less on the witty dialogue and character development, more on a “here is a few paragraphs to cover what is needed for this particular scene.” PTerry’s “embuggerance,” as he calls it, is starting to show its mettle.

There is enough soul of the man who writes to make the words fly in the way they need, and to make the story come alive. But it is a little less shiny. Little less bright. A little less, well, him.

cakesandale Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)

tl;dr Cakes and Ale  is proof in the pudding dead white dudes could write whatever the fuck they want and have it hailed as literary masterpiece, even when it is utterly beyond crap.

Review
I picked this book up a couple of months ago and it has been the bane of my existence as the more I read, the more I hated it. It is poorly written and badly edited, with random thoughts dropped into the middle of scenes that do not make any sense to the story or plot. For example, near the end of the book while discussing the character, Rosie Driffield, in question, the narrator suddenly decides this would be a good time to go on a two page bender on the withal of telling a story in first person narrative. Then as suddenly as he leapt into that thought, he leaps back into his discourse of Rosie’s admirable/questionable qualities.

The book is littered with jumps like this. There was 30 pages leveled on the discourse of beauty, what it meant, how it was applicable to life, who got it, and who didn’t. Another 10 pages on the virtues of a secondary minor character who doesn’t show up until near the end of the book. Roughly 20 pages was spent discussing the attributes of a another character who never actually shows up later in the story.

Maugham name checks of the day famous literary talent, real and imaginary. He draws comparison between his protagonist, William Ashenden, and these literary giants and whom you realise is really a stand in for him. He fangirls over so many famous people, it gets kind of embarrassing.

The crux of the story is William Ashenden, the narrator, is asked by Alroy Kear, another London literary snob, to help him with his research on writing a biography of recently deceased late-Victorian author, Edward Driffield. Driffield’s wife, the second Mrs. Driffield, wants any mention of the first Mrs. Driffield, our supposed heroine Rosie, to be erased from Edward’s history for she was an amoral character to the ninth degree and whose influence over poor dear Edward nearly killed him. 

With this set up, one would think the whole of the story would be the bringing to life, discussion, and telling of Rosie Driffield’s relationship with Edward. Rosie is mentioned in the beginning of the book briefly and then it’s not until another 200 pages later she’s brought into focus again and then carried out. It was as if someone had said to Maugham, “Yo. You are far off plot here buddy, rein it in!” And he did.

The whole of the book is to examine the snobbery and the often absurd social mores of the late Victorians and later, the Edwardians, and how these attitudes were affected and perceived. I get that, I do. But in that vein, the book is so poorly executed I spent a lot of time wondering what the fuck I was reading. I checked the synopsis on the back of the book so often to verify that what it said was actually what I was reading and not something else entirely.

It is well documented Maugham had issues with women, as he often saw them as his sexual and affection competitors, so his women are often described and treated as if they scum on shoes because of their sex. It is also well established Maugham, despite impressive number of novels under his belt, is at his best as a short story writer. With that in mind, I would recommend you stay the hell away from Cakes and Ale. I cannot in good conscious even conceive how this book gets so much love because of how flawed it is from start to finish. It is not even coherent, and yet! Yet, the mere existence proves that a dead white dude could write anything and have it called a literary masterpiece.

Watching

  • You, Me, & Them
    An adorable and quirky show staring Anthony Head (Giles from Buffy) and Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper on Torchwood) as a May-December couple who have recently moved in together and struggling with the demands not only of their relationship, but also the demands of their respective families. Frothy and fun, I was pleasantly surprised by the series. Series 2 is coming soon!

Weekly watching: The LeftoversTrue BloodRectifyHalt and Catch Fire, A Place To Call Home, Last Week Tonight with John OliverCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyElementary

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?

x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

daily walk: sugar maple drive

Dear Internet,

I’ve long known I’ve had a fairly flat ass. It is not so flat as there is no shape, but the shape of my ass does not match the width of my hips. This became even more obvious this week as I found myself, after sitting in one place too long, walking around the cabin doing high knee bends and massaging my bottom. Today I had been inside all the day, working on my book, and around 4PM decided to do a walk around the neighborhood to get some muscle tone back.

Throbbing Cabin is situated in the old chalets that were used to support Sugar Loaf, a ski resort that was one of the best skiing areas in Michigan but has since been shuttered since 2000 due to bad property management and unpaid taxes. About 65-70% of the homes in my neck of the woods are seasonal, mainly trunk slammers, who come in the summer months for the views, wines, and beaches. With the area being named one of the most beautiful in the country, and Traverse City within spitting distance, we know how fortunate we are to have landed this place at the time that we did. Even more poignantly without the ski resort for support, many of the chalets have gone vacant and  were falling into disrepair.

So while we’re in a tiny, sparsely populated subdivision, it’s insanely quiet here. The sub is surrounded on two sides by cherry orchards and forests, the third side is the old ski resort, the fourth is wide open field that is used for  crops.

It’s a strange juxtaposition of seasonal and yearly homes that make this place unique. You’ll have places like ours, A-frame or similar cabins built to mimic Alpine styling, then WHAM! A more modern home shows up in your view complete with paved driveway, satellite dish, and siding.

sugarmaple
Sugar Maple Drive

Distance: 1.07 miles
Walk time: Roughly 22 minutes
Pace: 17:14/mile

What is most remarkable to me is the stillness. I can count on one hand the number of cars I hear drive by every day and at night, the stillness is broken by the creatures of the forest. So I admired the tree tops, and the odd mailbox, and thought how can you capture silence in a picture? Can you capture silence at all?

(I will not tell a lie, I close the windows at night not because I think there may be a Jason Voorhees hanging around, but that a curious bear will rip off the extended panes, rip through the screens, and somehow squeeze their body through an area 3 feet high and 1 foot wide.

Yes, I do have an overactive imagination, thank you for noticing!)

The sub’s diameter is exactly one mile, which makes it perfect for my walk. I came across some people doing yard work but most of the homes sit closed up, as evident by the piling of old newspapers and weeds in their drives. I saw whom I assume to be a young father taking his dog, a toddler, and a baby out for a stroll. He seemed more startled to see me power walking with my earbuds in and determined face than I was of him —  but I had seen him yesterday around the same time doing the same walk.

Slowly, as I continue to observe, I get the feel and the rhythm of the place.

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2011, 2003, 1999, 1998