- 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.
You can now follow me on Pinterest on what I’m reading, watching, and listening.
I’ve been heavily listening to the Icelandic indie list that was generated on Spotify (embed below), so much so, I am beginning to think I can understand Icelandic. Who knew that a country with less than half a million peoples could rock out so hard?
Favorites: Samaris (Their write music to old Icelandic poetry), John Grant (an American living in Iceland, he is the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever gonna meet. Also: He’s opening for Elbow in May! Woo!), and FM Belfast (Twee disco pop).
[iframe src=”https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:user:icelandicmusic:playlist:2duvD05TtABniQdKkDSYfv” width=”300″ height=”380″ frameborder=”0″ allowtransparency=”true”]
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Apparently it’s a thing to hate the output of alum from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, because as you skim through the reviews on GoodReads, the comments are peppered with snide remarks and tut-tutting of the decline of quality of IWW’s output. Who knew?
Was Seating Arrangements a tour de force and innovative? No. Was it sloppy and a bit amateurish at times? Absolutely. Was the language overwrought? At times. But is this a bad story? The short answer is no. It’s clunky, some of the plot points felt like they were thrown in at the last minute, and some of the characters were definitely there to fill a quota but there is something here. You just have to be patient as you dig through the muck and Shipstead can turn a beautiful phrase more often than not.
I could be a bit biased — I have a weakness for anything relating to farces surrounding blue bloods and their world. And this felt like someone had done their research and wrote as if they knew this particular world without ever having stepped into it. So think of this as if Whit Stillman and Bret Easton Ellis were high on acid, conceived Shipstead as their prodigal daughter in their ultra preppy way and you’ll have encompassed the writer completely.
Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
How a story that begins with the end of the Romanovs, the killing of Rasputin, and told from the viewpoint of a teenager who entices the beloved son could be yawn inducing is perhaps a mystery, but there you go. I made it through 67 pages before giving up as I was neither titillated nor engaged by the content. The characters are flat, the exposition was repetitive, and it felt like someone had whipped through Wikipedia to get descriptions and recarved them into their own words. Harrison has been applauded by her use of language and world building, but as this is my first introduction to her, I saw none of the magic that apparently makes her beloved.
Do not recommend.
Bridget Jones: Mad About A Boy by Helen Fielding
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
It’s Bridget Jones. People expecting a tour de force of impossible construct and setting need to get over themselves.
YES, shes’ the godmother of modern day women’s fiction, heavily influenced by herself Jane Austen. And YES, I swore when I heard this book was coming out (and having read the mini-come back Fielding did in the Independent in 2005 which describes how Bridg gets knocked up (is it Daniel’s? Or Mark’s? Of COURSE it’s Mark’s. Durrr, how can we be so silly??)), I would not read MAtB because who wants to their perfect fantasy destroyed?
But reader, I read it. It was a compulsion as it was available via eBook at my local library, so I could read it under the cover of Kindle with neither a fear or judgement to be made.
Helen Fielding is the Dan Brown of chick-lit world. Language and concepts are on an 10th grade level, plot is fairly dimmed, set-ups are noticeable a mile away. Some things in Bridg’s world will never change — and I wished she would remember her own history. Fielding seems to have forgotten Vile Richard was not actually vile and there is a scene in book 1 or 2 in which Richard gives Bridg a good over on her and their circle’s perception of him. That was all seemingly forgotten in book 3. Daniel is has become a caricature of himself, Shazzer is in LA, and the rest of the group seem to not be desperate to discover their world, but sad, pathetic shallower (if that is even possible) versions of themselves. There is no growth.
MAtB is similarly based on Fielding’s life — she too had children in her late 40s, she went through a breakup, she’s floundering on what to do next. Did she bring back Bridg, our beloved anti-herione because it was time to move Bridge forward or because Fielding was lacking in cash?
Does it matter, and more succinctly, do we care?
- The Hill Farm
A tease of show that follows a working farm in Snowdonia, Wales beginning in January and ending December. Similar to other working farm shows, like Tudor Monastery Farm, the big difference is those shows are six to eight episodes long and about an hour long to capture all that happens in a year. In The HIll Farm, however, it is four 28 minute long episodes. This attempt to encapsulate an entire year in 2 hours is staggering. Its brief touches of family life, farm life, and community life were so minute, you’d blink and miss an important part. Even with that being said, there is something that calls to a community who have, with the upgrade of modern convenience, continue to farm in the same area for nearly four centuries. The emphasis on organic, free range, and farm to table experiences and connecting people back to where food comes from speaks to those of us who are done with ready meals and food by-products. Gareth Wyn Jones, the face of the farm, came up with the intriguing idea of a “local food aisle” in supermarkets, a scheme to showcase just what is available near you. I would love to see something like this take off here in the States.
- Moone Boy
Season 2 is coming to Hulu April 24, so I won’t spoil it for you. But I will say it looks like season 3 has already been filmed before season 2 started — so there’s my jumper.
- Edge of Heaven
Written by Welshman Robert Jones (who also plays Camp Gary in the show), it’s a Britcom around a family who own and operate an ’80s themed B&B in Margate. This show is 100% formulaic, the writing is often sloppy, and the characters are pastiches. But it’s got moxie and I think that is the point — it’s a send up of every other dramedy and it is not above on not taking itself seriously. Even if the send-ups make you roll your eyes at the obviousness of it all, it’s a froth of a drama that may not improve your knowledge or IQ, but will definitely keep you entertained.
- The Bletchley Circle
I apparently missed the last episode of season 2, which ties up the mystery at hand. Huh. I always feel like there is something wrong with this show — something is off, but I’m not quite sure what it is. I know it’s pretty beloved but while I watch it, I don’t actually yearn for it.
Will POTUS run for re-election or won’t he? Will Selina be recognized for who she is? Will Jonah ever stop being Jonah?)
- Silicon Valley
New series, by Mike Judge, about the foibles of living in Silicon Valley. TheHusband found it to be pretty spot on to what he recalled those days while I thought it seemed a bit lacking. But it does present an interesting conundrum: Do you take the money and run OR do you follow your dream?
- Game of Thrones
Winter has arrived and Arya is counting down the Lannisters to kill. Welcome to season four.
- House of Lies
Marty, Marty, Marty. And Jeannie. What the ever living fuck.
A taut, 2-part thriller based on the northern Scottish islands of Shetland, who killed the grandmother in her croft? But of course, this being the remote isles of Shetland, nothing is ever done easily. So much so, they came out with a second series.
- Dead Famous DNA
An intriguing look at finding, and genome categorizing, DNA of dead famous folk. There is apparently a huge trade in “famous body parts,” such as hair, nails, and other things by collectors worldwide. We’ve seen two episodes in and it’s actually kind of fascinating with the process, and the lines drawn, on sequencing. They apparently want to sequence Hitler, from DNA pulled from his reported here, but 65 labs in 25 countries said, “No.” Except for Belgium — so we’ll have to see what happens!
- The Musketeers
This is coming to BBCA this summer, so I won’t spoil it for you — BUT, I will say while it does not follow the book, it’s a fun, swashbuckling show with your standard simple story over arch and your freak of the week episodes thrown in for filler.
Who really is the bad guy: Raylan or Boyd? And what the everloving fuck is Ava DOING?
Weekly watching: Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Americans, Survivor: Cagayan, Vikings, University Challenge, Archer, Under the Gunn, Reign, Elementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
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