aquatic monster

Dear Internet,
ThePlague is still here and it’s making my life miserable in numerous ways. i.e. My new sleeping schedule is now bed between 04:00 – 05:00 and waking up between 12:00 – 13:00. If I’m lucky. Today I rolled out of bed at nearly 14:00.
With my sleep disjointed, my daily To-Dos are a fucking mess. I have a long list of things I need to get done for various things to keep myself up to date on a variety of projects but it ends with me just working on one or two. Count in things like eating, showering, and other human things, my working day is shot by 19:00. I’ve tried working while watching telly with TheExHusband (we’ve plowed through Key & Peele, Fresh Meat, and are now working our way through RuPaul’s Drag Race), which lends us to staying up late. He’s able to get up at a reasonable time and then there’s me, sleeping fucking beauty.
I’ve been inhaling short stories, swapping between Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of MaladiesCat Valente’s The Bread We Eat in Dreams, Chekhov’s The Witch and Other Stories, and LampLight magazine.  I’ve had Lahiri on the back burner since my days working at the bookstore; Valente I recently finished one of her new novels and I wanted to re-read her shorts; Chekhov as he’s the master of shorts, and LampLight magazine as I’ve recently submitted some work to them.
I’m most surprised, given my ADHD, I’ve not dipped into shorts before and it’s been fascinating to where my reading tastes are taking me. Some stories were like eating the most luscious of chocolate cakes (and I love some chocolate cake!) and others were burnt custard. The dropping in and out of various collections rather than reading them straight has kept my palette clean rather than getting getting overwrought over one particular author or theme.
But I’m learning a lot. Where I’ve been clutching to things that are secondary or even tertiary, so reading across a variety of authors has helped considerably.
Even complaining about ThePlague, I was finally able to leave the house for the first time in almost a week without feeling I was going to leave a lung somewhere along the road. I wore pants for a total 1.5 hours and that was 1.25 hours too long.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 1998

Collection of Cunning Curiosities – July 18, 2015

Map of the Internet
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

A weekly compendium of things that delight my fancy.

Dear Internet, You can follow all mentioned items here and past on the Pinterest board. x0x0, lisa

Reading

I’ve been plowing through my book list these last few weeks. I finished Goddess of Buttercups & Daisies, which was a fun read and The Devil’s Detective, which posits that terrible murders are happening in hell and Satan hires a detective to find out why. Yes, murders in hell, but go with it as the horror/mystery novel is able to pull it off quite well.
This last week I started research on a sekret project that involves learning as  much as humanly possible about SEO, however, the current titles that are regarded are so terrible, I’m embarrassed to list them here. You can check out the list on Pinterest.
To wash out the bad books, I picked up Jane Goes Batty which is the second in a series that presents the idea: What if Jane Austen never died, but became a vampire (turned by Lord Byron no less) and was living in contemporary America, owning a bookshop? I know, AGAIN, another book where the summary sounds implausible but the series is quite fun and a quick read.

Fanciful Delights

Did you know the word “awesome” has been in use since the late 16th century? Neither did I. The word usage in the 16th century was more along the lines of, “made you shiver in terror” rather than our current usage to mean, “things that fill you with awe.” This is why English language and it’s constant growth is awesome. (See what I did there?)
Exit, Pursued by a bear papyrus Digital Manuscripts Library at the British Library recently wrote an article about one of the oldest papyrus’ found, which they nicknamed “Exit, Pursued by a Bear.” Regular readers of this journal may remember this journal is named after a scene from Shakespear’s The Winter’s Tale, It seems natural enough, then, that the article on the oldest known papyrus nicknamed the same would delight my fancy.
To the delight of some, and annoyance to others, I refer to American soccer as football. But I have always wondered why we call it soccer when the rest of the world calls it football. Well wonder no more my friends, dictionary.com has the answer.
Map of the InternetHaving been a user of the Internet for a solid 20 years (!), I’ve always wondered what it look like mapped. The Optae Project answers that very question. “Since the Internet is basically a vast constellation of networks that somehow interconnect to provide the relatively seamless communication of data, it seemed logical one could draw lines from one point to another. The visualization is a collection of programs that collectively output an image of every relationship of every network on the Internet.” (Click on the image on the right to get a large image and other images created by this project.)
I did not get into Joy Division until I was in my late ’20s or early ’30s, which is surprising since I was a huge New Order fan in high school. No matter, Joy Division remain one of my top five bands for the last decade and that more than likely will not change. What’s interesting about this revelation is the band released only two full albums and the lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide 35 years ago. Despite their small catalog, JoyDiv remains one of the most influential bands of the late 20th century. This even though the remaining members went on form New Order and other multi-album bands, and yet, yet, JoyDiv tops them all. Recently, The Guardian wrote up a piece on the 10 best Joy Division tracks, which prompted me to add them to to this weeks list. Below is the video for She’s Lost Control, one of my favorite Joy Division tracks, natch. Or you can open up Spotify to listen to their tracks.

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2014, 2012, 2011, 2003, 1999, 1998

in which we have reading and writing adventures

Barker at the grounds at the Vermont state fair, Rutland (LOC)
Barker at the grounds at the Vermont state fair, circa 1941. Courtesy of The Commons, Flickr.

Dear Internet,
It’s a long, lovely holiday weekend and I’m digging into my stack of books, aided by hot tea, for entertainment. Since my own book has stalled, I thought it would be a good time to take notes on the books I’m reading to see what worked and what didn’t and apply it to, hopefully, jump start my own writing as well to see what makes me happy reading. (AKA, these notes are mainly more for me than you, but hey, if you get something out of it; Awesome!)
The number one rule you’ll see anywhere on writing is, “read more,” but is that all? Yes and no. Below are some of my notes from chewing through a few books this weekend.
If influenced by a particular era, do the research. In reading a book set during the Belle Époque (France’s version of the Edwardian era / American Gilded age), the book should have a feel for that period. This one did not and it felt what details were made available were slapped on from Wikipedia. Just no.
Alternating POV should move the story along, not show the same scene from different prescriptive.  Thus far, I’ve finished three books this weekend, of which two used alternating POV as a story device. One used it well to advance the story, spending less time on recreating the setting, while the other not so much. In the second, I felt as if the author was slapping my hand for not getting something right so they had to tell me again.
Chapters are not always necessary. Yes, they break up the scenes and action, but if done stealthy, the shift between could remain seamless without the use of chapters. Chapters may be like periods, pauses to break up the scenes, but are not necessary. Terry Pratchett was the king of lack of chapters. In one of the books I read this weekend, the switching happened with the alternating points of view and was so seamless, it took me half the book to realise there were no chapters.
The length of a book, by page number, does not necessitate how good it is. The ones on the longer side are more than likely just like to hear themselves read. Get it? (They all can’t be winners.) One book I’ve read recently, and was quite good, was a slim 150 pages. Another book that was pure dreck clocked in at 400. Length does not mean everything, as much as we like to believe.
Give the book an old college try and read the first 50 pages. I’ll go out on a limb and say this applies to writing as well; if you can’t make the story palatable within the first 50 pages, neither will your readers. And readers? There are too many good books for you to read terrible ones.
If heavily using phrases of a language that isn’t your primary language or the colloquialisms of a particular thing, include an appendix of sorts. It’s presumptuous to think your readers are going to have the same breadth of knowledge on the same topic you’re writing about. An aforementioned book set in the Belle Époque period heavily used ballet terms and dropped French like it was ice cream sprinkles. This makes sense because this was the subject matter, BUT if you aren’t familiar with ballet or spoke even rudimentary French, a lot of what was happening with the characters would be lost on you. Yes, I get it, we learn by reading outside our comfort zone but there is a difference between needing to look up “demagogue” and wondering what in the hell is “battement développé” and having translate.google.com by your side.
There were a few more main things I forgot to write down, but this is the gist of it. So it is true, the more you read, the more you learn. Hrm.
x0x0,
Lisa
P.S. Last winter I decided to put together a newsletter for those who read my stuff but can’t be arsed to check it out daily (no worries, I get it, I do!) so this is a monthly round up. I’ve decided to resurrect it again! Called Skaldic Press Presents, you can check out the archive here (http://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator/archive) and subscribe here (https://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator).
P.P.S. There are GIFs involved!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2014, 2000, 1999

wishlists

Dear Internet,
It’s the night before our country’s big anniversary weekend and I’m spending my time organizing my Amazon.com wish lists, but there is a reason for my staid evening. But first let me tell you a short story: TEH and I went walking around downtown today as we ran errands we’ve been putting off for a week or two. One of those errands was getting our local library cards (I now have 13 library cards from various academic and public libraries. Yes, I am a nerd.), which then necessitated we needed, or I did, to get books. How else was I going to know what to read? By going to my Amazon wish lists, of course.
Since my day to day information gathering spans across RSS feeds, social media, and other sources, as well as podcast listening, project prep, and personal recommendations from friends, my book lists come from everywhere. In order to keep track of it all, I started organizing the lists by topic on Amazon.
(Bethums once pointed out she thought it was adorable that I organized things to an OCD level, but hey, if I am not anything but a librarian?)
There is a reason to my madness and that is Amazon is my list of lists.
The lists serve as reminders such as hey, I may need these things when I get my own place or birthday/holiday ideas, which TEH and my brother found extremely useful.  There are books on particular topics I want to know more about, music I need to check out or DVDs I need to buy.
But as I organized my lists this evening, for things have been bought and or no longer wanted, I noticed patterns erupting.
I like gadgets and geegaws. Everyone needs silicone and bamboo salad hands, a set of 10 nibs, or a professional grade laser hair removal device don’t they? Of course they do!
My interests are varied, which probably owns up to my ADHD. I have things on knitting, clay molding kits, calligraphy, to books on linux, user experience, fairytales and viking poetry. I was surprised to find I had many non-fiction books as I did fiction, on a wide variety of topics such as cartography, biographies, and how things are made as examples.
I like fictional and non-fictional tales about women, primarily those who rejected the ideals of their times. Courtesans, serial killers, scientists, artists, or royals; it doesn’t matter. If there is a tale about a woman, in some form or another comes off as a rebel, I want to know who she is.
I like knowing how things are they way they are. If there is a book about the history of paper, on racial politics, the creation of gender, the history of the breast, the story of the great flood, and the lost art of letter writing or everything in-between, I probably have a book on it in one of my lists. (We totally cannot forget The Library: A World History as what kind of librarian would I be?)
I like to research. My current book, the Edwardian mystery, has stalled and I can’t seem to jump start it but of course I have a list for that. I found similar genres such as decopunk (speculative fiction subset of dieselpunk, which is a subset of steampunk) that incorporates the aesthetic of Art Deco with diesel engines just as steampunk splices Victorian era with steam technology. Decopunk is so specific, Amazon only has a few books that claim that genre, but it piques my interest. Of course mythology, Vikings, and middle ages have me in raptures. Any period that predates post modern seems to be my mainstay though I tend to dip into contemporary novels here or there.
I don’t read as widely as I should. Over the years my tastes have regulated itself to particular authors (Terry Pratchett and Kate Atkinson as example) or genres such as mystery, period, or speculative fiction. I do read mainly women but I’m definitely lacking in books by people of color or translations from countries where English is not the primary language (though Paulo Cohelo and Umberto Eco are excluded but everyone reads them). Or books from other countries, period.
I don’t think I’m that well read but I’m much further than most, I suppose, and I really want a lot of things. Though, I could do a lot better by NOT adding so much stuff to the damn lists but hey, you just never know. It might go on sale.
xoxo,
Lisa
p.s. If you think this is a bit ridiculous, you should see my RSS feed organization.
p.p.s. If you visit the site regularly, you may notice some changes. I took the justification off since it is a design no-no, changed the font to a more pleasing one, and swapped out my header which I am using with permission from Forgotten Heritage Photography.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013, 2003

Collection of Cunning Curiosities – May 30, 2015

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

A weekly compendium of things that delight my fancy.

Dear Internet, You can follow this collection on Pinterest. x0x0, lisa

Reading

I’ve been super lax on keeping my list updated but no more! I’ve added loads of new books as well as the comic serials I’ve been reading and finishing, so the list is mostly current now. The best book this year I’ve read is Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls of the Kingfisher Club, which I finished in one sitting. Valentine confirmed what I’ve known for quite some time: exquisite writing will be the convincer needed to get me to finish a book. Time is far too short to read bad books and I seemingly keep picking up bad books.

Links

Noon Pacific is a weekly mixtape of the best songs handpicked from the best music blogs, delivered to your inbox every Monday at Noon (Pacific Time). Definite pluses: You can listen via their app which you can grab from iTunes and Google Play. Lisa’s take:  I was recently turned on to this via somewhere and the idea I can stream it on my phone/iPad as an independent app was a great appeal as well as the introduction to new music, curated weekly.
Neko Atsume is Animal Crossing sans annoying talking creatures but populated with cats. So what exactly do you do in this game? You buy some food, a few toys, put them in the garden and wait for the cats to show up. That’s it. The cats will come and go as they please but as a reward for keeping them fed and toyed, they will leave you trinkets of sardines to continue buying them food and toys. It’s the new obsession as illustrated here, here, and here. You can pick up Neko Atsume at iTunes and Android.
How to: Perfect Winged Eyeliner! is the best YouTube tutorial I’ve seen on how to do perfect winged eyeliner. Yes, I’m almost 43 years old and need help putting on make-up but this easy to follow tutorial with practical steps (make dots on your eyelids, connect the dots, viola! Perfect eyeliner) was a huge game changer for me. Seriously. I typically like to wear eyeliner + mascara as the sum of my make-up for the day but my lack of steady hand or unable to draw a straight line means my eyeliner is always just a bit off. First go around with this technique and my eyeliner was on point.
Ceremony (the band) is, according to Wikipedia, a punk band from California. I disagree with this, naturally, because they are post-punk and this is an important distinction. They are grittier than Interpol but still have that Joy Division sound, so of course I like them. Their single Separation from their most recent album, L-Shaped Man, was demoed on some place I forget and I loved that so much, I preordered the album. So if you’re into a Joy Division derivative with hints of She Wants Revenge and Sex Pistols, this is your band.
New authorized James Bond novel will resurect Pussy Galore.I’m super excited by this announcement as I’m a huge fan of the Bond movies AND books. Yes, yes, both media should be against my feminist leanings (misogyny is but one of the fallacies), but sometimes you have to just ignore things to enjoy something. I mean, Sean Connery – amirite? If you too are interested in the Bond universe, I highly recommend getting your hands on the Moneypenny Diaries, which can be had for dirt cheap on Amazon.

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2001

drive

Dear Internet,
It’s Memorial Day and while most of you are out enjoying (hopefully) the good weather, I’m in TheExHusband’s condo waiting for it rain. Without access to a grill, and impending iffy weather, we’re keeping it indoors for the day. Pot roast will be consumed, laundry done, and at some point I will be start catching up on some telly. If we’re super honest, I will not get out of my jimjams for the rest of day and I’m okay with that.
I’ve spent the morning doing clean up and restructuring of some things around here.It seemed if I’m going to be coming back with gusto, a lot of the old features should be revamped and reinstated. I’m bringing back Collection of Cunning Curiosities, my breakdown of things I’ve liked that week across various mediums. I’ve dropped the medieval spelling and instead of a line item of things, it will be a summary of that particular medium. I’ve been Pocketing loads of things for months without referencing them after they were saved which was the point of CoC.
I’ve massively updated my Book List of 2015 and while it feels like I’ve been reading more as of late, the list still looks fairly puny to where I should be in order to hit the 100 book mark for the year. If you’re a visual person like me, I’ve also updated the board at Pinterest.
TheExHusband sprung for a new iPad Mini as an early Lisamas gift. Of course, I’m feeling overwhelmed with his generosity but my old iPad2 was becoming slower than molasses in January, close to obsolescence, and often freezing up. Surprisingly, as a second generation tech, it’s still much preferred over the next few generations until the iPad Minis and Airs were released.
I used my iPad2 like mad in the four years I’ve owned it but at some point, I noted it was, in addition to slowness, coupled with only 16g of space, almost too cumbersome for reading and game playing. The new iPad Mini that is sitting next to me is several chip generations ahead, bigger drive, thus much snappier and reading on it, especially comics with its retina display, is a delight.
I’m pretty sure TheExHusband and I do not have a normal divorced relationship, considering how much he’s been by my side through all of my foibles. But we were so integral to each other’s lives for so long, just disconnecting altogether would feel wrong.
My mania pitched this morning. It may be partially due to my intake of Lamictal, which is slowly being upped to 400mg and should be stabilized in the next few weeks. It could also be due to the pot of coffee I’ve had today. I swear, I didn’t feel manic when I woke up this morning and I even went to bed at a reasonable hour with zero problems sleeping! I have been so energetic this afternoon that we went on a walk because I’m even annoying myself. Of course the walk had to have a purpose – to get a waffle cone of chocolate sorbet. Huzzah!
I’ve been interested in tracking my sugars, not because I’m diabetic or even close, but I read a recent article in WaPo that it isn’t exercise or cutting fats that will allow you to lose weight, but cutting sugars. I’ve had success in the past when I’ve been diligent with calories, so cutting those along with watching my sugars seems a natural way to go with changing my eating. It is also bikini season.
The author, a doctor, uses reports and studies to back up his findings, and hell, who couldn’t do better with a more normalized diet? As a starter, I started documenting my food intake today  in which the only meals I have had is brunch and a snack, yet I have already consumed 125% of my sugar allowance. Obviously the sorbet didn’t help. So there is that. (And if you’re one of those people, you can find me on MyFitnessPal as biblyotheke. You can also find me on FitBit if you do a search for byvalkyrie@facebook dot com.)
Eurovision was Saturday, which TheExHusband and I watched live. The best way to explain it is American Idol on super speed but with 40ish countries competing instead of 12 hopeful contestants. The pageantry, costumes, and kitschy national pride is what sets it apart from just about anything else. Don’t believe me? Here is a quick recap of all the contestants from 2014.
Rising like a phoenix,
xoxo,
Lisa

Today in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2o03

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for August 9, 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
mistressoftheart Mistress of the Art of Death #1 by Ariana Franklin
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
An intriguing (though short lived) series about a 12th century female forensic doctor who is removed from her beloved Salerno, Italy to Cambridge, UK to help catch a child killer. The dead speak to her and they have a lot to say.
The plot was well developed and the characters were fully realised. Franklin does well in keeping with the time and place (12th century England) though she sometimes cheats with patrois and language, by having a character comment they could not understand what was being said between two other characters speaking the local tongue. Well, maybe cheating is not the right word but it is a clever device to get a better feel for the period.
The mystery itself was difficult enough to suss out who the killer(s) were, which is why this book endears itself to me and shows the author was skillful enough to drop hints but not so obvious as you figure out the entire thing in the first 50 pages but keeps you turning until the end.
Highly recommended.
bear Bear by Marian Engel
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
A month or so ago, someone posted on Imgur screenshot of the cover of Bear along with photos of the racier bits and titled it, “What the actual fuck, Canada?”. Since the crux of the story concerned a Canadian librarian who goes into the woods to find herself, I knew I had to read it.
And so did everyone else.
Random House Canada recently wrote a blog piece that discussed not only the new spike in sales of the book based on the Imgur posting but also Bear was much more than a woman getting it on with a grizzly. It is a deep exploration of a woman wondering how she got to where she was at, a sexual awakening of sorts, and a wake-up call to take charge of her own life.
It should be said Bear was written while Engel was going through her own divorce, and while I kept pointing out to people the sex scenes in Bear were not projections, metaphors, or similes, there is an undercurrent of exploration of those things that parallel the dissolution of Engel’s own marriage. The Random House piece also points out that Bear digs deep past the stereotypes of CanLit, a world that is typically imagined as rural romantics and pastoral cleverness, by really giving you the true worth of nature.
I was recently asked to compile a list of top 10s of various media that I thought made the difference to humanity, not just because I loved it or it was good, but it changed something inside. Bear is definitely on that list now — it’s brave, and weirdly wonderful; written like a prose poem rather than a story. It challenges us and by doing so, it enlightens us by giving us back our own humanity.

Watching

  • The Leftovers
    Good premise, bad timing. As we’re already watching a show that is depressing and slow paced (Rectify), having two shows in the same week was just too much. We felt Rectify was better developed and written, so au revoir The Leftovers, sorry it didn’t work out.
  • Halt and Catch Fire
    A strange little show built on the premise of what the heyday of the early ’80s computer wars were like — and it worked. Lee Pace and his eyebrows kept us guessing each week if he was going to have an American Pyscho moment, which hasn’t happened. YET, and all the drama that occurred surrounding him and his world. Word on the street is that it is unknown if this is going to be renewed for season two, but I hope it does.

Weekly watching: The Bridge, Project Runway, The Almighty Johnsons, True BloodRectify, A Place To Call Home, Last Week Tonight with John OliverCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyElementary

Links

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for May 17, 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 now follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Listening

I’ve been really into BBC Radio these last few weeks and below is some of my current favorites. I’m not going to lie, Benedict Cumberbatch figures prominently in two of the series, so there’s that.

Reading

Finished
deadintheir
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6) by Alan Bradley
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
At this point, there is not much more one can say about this series that has not said before, so I won’t regurgitate it all over again. I will say I’m not sure where this story is going is the right path. The twists of where Flavia is headed, the AHA moment Bradley springs upon us, and how Bradley neatly ties up some lingering questions seem kind of amateurish. But obviously I’m on the hook now for what happens, so bring on book #7!
sexandrage
Sex and Rage: Advice To Young Ladies Eager For A Good Time by Eve Babitz
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Earlier I said,

I was introduced to Babitz recently via a recent article about her in Vanity Fair. The idea of an intellectual good-time girl intrigued me as it should, and I was dismayed to find that her work is not only largely unknown but also out of print. I was able to get a first edition copy ofSex and Rage via interlibrary loan to read and boy, am I ever glad I did. Babitz is glorious as a writer, the work hums with the fastness of the era, of the good time unapologetic choices that Jacaranda makes, doing so with such easy going nature you are desperate for the drugs she’s on.

Two of the books main characters are cities (LA and NYC), who are plumped up in their finery to show you what they are really like during their heights. Make no mistake, this is very much a roman à cléf of Babitz’s life and I don’t think this book would have been successful any other way. The only way to capture the essence of the era and the city would have been to live it as wildly and as fully as Babitz. Once you get past this is a thinly retelling of Babtiz’s life and realise her wordplay is punchy and clean, the book sails forward in all of its gloriousness.
Currently reading
cakesandale
Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)
This is supposed to be HILARIOUS. A laugh riot. Bawdy.  A modern retelling of Twelfth Night.  In reality? A trainwreck.
The premise of the story is a moderately successful writer is approached by the family of a  recently deceased big to do writer to write his biography. But there is a catch! The biographer has to erase all mentions of the dead writer’s first wife, who was so bawdy and outlandish, she turned him bohemian. Craz-zee.
Except, the linear story is a hot mess. We’re introduced to a nameless (at first ) 1st person unreliable narrator, a writer, at the beginning of the story who is fretting over accepting the call of a slightly more successful writer friend. Maugham then spends nearly 20 pages on what Mr. moderately successful is and isn’t.  Then as we start to get into the meat of the story, so-called Mr. moderately successful is then dropped from the story. I’ve spent the next 70 pages of the primary unreliable narrator basking in the glow of his youth, and where we find out he is the one who has met the dead writer when the dead writer was married to the bawdy first wife. While the crux of the story is to circle around the moderately successful writer writing the biography, I’m 1/3rd of the way through and Maugham is dragging this on.
Maugham is better known, and respected, for his short stories which are supposedly sublime. I keep thinking I have read Of Human Bondage, but I think my memory is faulty. So Cakes and Ale is meh.

Watching

  • Vikings
    The Vikings ended a few weeks back and I’m curious to see where this goes. Historically, Ragnar Lodbrok doesn’t last long past what we’re at now in history on the show, and they have been tap dancing around the settlement of England (and yo. Dane law.). Where will this go and how much will the producers manipulate versus the truth?
  • Penny Dreadful
    Gaslight retelling of various Romantic and Victorian nightmares (Frankenstein, Jack the Ripper, Dracula) starting a James Bond, a Bond Girl, and a Companion. One episode in and it shows a lot of promise. I’m curious to how they will continue intertwining the various mythologies into a single story.
  • Louie
    TheHusband is a big fan of Louie, so we’ve been watching this as it has been appearing. I find Louie’s comedy mostly great, but he always tends to have one or two jokes that fall flat with me.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Another new news show encompassing the weekly worth of events in half hour, but with a British spin.
  • Fargo
    Starring Billy Bob Thorton and Martin Freeman, along with a host of other big actors, on a spin of the Cohen brother’s movie.
  • Eurovision
    I cannot possibly encompass the gloriousness of Eurovision in a mere paragraph.
  • At Home With The Georgians
    Originally aired in 2010, it was rebroadcast this past week to begin the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the first George of England. It stars one of my favorite academic/presenters Amanda Vickery. What is really interesting about this series is not just the historical view of the Georgian era, but how much we think is modern in terms of how we view homes and living actually is centuries old. DIY is not a novel or new concept.

Weekly watching:  Mad MenGame of ThronesSilicon ValleyVeepCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyDoctor Blake MysteriesThe AmericansSurvivor: CagayanElementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for April 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 now follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished
clarice-lispector-near-to-the-wild-heart-entrekin
Near to the Wild Heart by  Clarice Lispector
(Amazon | WorldCat GoodReads)
I haven’t swayed too much from my original impression of the book, but one thing I need to note is to take this in small bites. I was so intoxicated by her work, I was drowning in her words.

Watching

  • Nurse Jackie, Reign
    I decided I did not care enough about either show to continue watching, so I stopped. I couldn’t take another season of Jackie fucking up her life and the when it became pretty clear the producers of Reign gave no fucks based on the sheer amount of anachronisms, I decided I did not either.
  • Archer
    Drug lords, a baby, cocaine, and a budding country star. Only Archer can contain this much awesome in such a short amount of time span and I’m thrilled they are coming back for another season.
  • Dead Famous DNA
    This three part mini-series was interesting in the search for dead famous DNA, how we react (and collect) that DNA, and what we will and won’t do with it. Spoiler: Turns out Eva Braun (Hitler’s love) was Jewish.

Weekly watching:  Mad MenGame of ThronesSilicon ValleyVeepCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyDoctor Blake MysteriesThe AmericansSurvivor: CagayanVikingsElementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for January 4, 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,

Reading

hastydeath
Hasty Death: Edwardian Murder Mysteries #2 by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

Chesney/Beaton doesn’t disappoint. You have your “oh she’s supposedly so well educated but portrays herself as a half-wit” heroine who comes from exceedingly good stock; the mysterious and fallen main male lead who “oh really publicly hates the heroine but secretly loves her” and yes, it’s all very predicable and cliche-y.
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 above was written about Snobbery With Violence and much could be said for book two in the series. Rose is still flighty as ever, Daisy is one step ahead of everyone else, and poor Captain Harry is just reviled that he could be in love with Lady Rose Summer.
I immediately started book 3 after finishing this one and what I can say about the series at this point is they make great books to use for research on Edwardian themes since Beaton was kind enough to reference many period items and sayings. But other than as reference points, the books are incredibly dull.

 Watching

  • Death Comes to Pemberley
    I finished the three part series on NYE, and my first impressions were not terribly far off. The conclusion to the mystery was kind of weak and I did a lot of eye rolling to the entire thing. Fabulous cast, many of the actors did superb jobs of their characters with what they had, but ultimately the writing, the need to have one of the characters lead us through the mystery, and the final ending was just meh.
  • Vicious Christmas special
    I could watch Sirs Jacobi and McKellen snipe and love each other till the end of time. So, so thrilled this is getting a second season.
  • The Thirteenth Tale
    Based off the book of the same name, this taut gothic televised adaptation was rather good. Surprisingly good and kept me riveted to my seat during the entire 1.5 moments. Having read the book, sure, there were moments of cliche and gloss, but overall not a bad story.
  • Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer
    Presented by Neil Oliver, it tells the story of Princess Arsinoe, Cleopatra’s sister, who was killed to preserve Cleopatra’s line to the throne.
  • Henry VIII: Patron or Plunderer
    A two part series on Henry’s creative efforts and works made in his name may or may not override his destruction of treasures later in his reign.
  • Edward VII: Prince of Pleasure
    Interesting documentary on Edward VII, for whom the Edwardian period is named, and his life, loves, and monarchy.
  • Miss Marple
    Mainlined all of the most current (season 6) of Miss Marple — the first two were excellent, as always but the last one left us a bit on the “WTF?” side. Turns out it was a later Christie story, without Marple, that was adapted to include Marple as a almost fourth wall character, but not quite. When/If this shows up on PBS, you can miss the last episode without regret.

Weekly watching: Raised by WolvesBBC Tudor Monastery Farm, Reign, DraculaProject Runway All-Stars, Breathless, Atlantis,  Elementary, Doc Martin, QIPeaky Blinders,  Sons of Anarchy,  The Vampire Diaries

Links

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2013