We’re in a holding pattern here at Chez Gique, waiting for something to happen – a good thing, just hasn’t happened yet. And it’s hard to be patient, and it’s hard not to hyperfocus on “when will we know happens next,” and it’s hard to keep spirits up and positive.
So in the meantime, other than the fact that a narcissistic madman is running the country, what else is going on?
Well, it’s currently hard to type words like “currently,” “hard,” or “words,” because the “R” key on my iPad Mini Rugged Zagg book is missing a keycap, and as it’s a really old Mini, it’s not worth buying a whole new one. I’m making do for now, rather than using either my (elderly) laptop or my (not as elderly) desktop. The Mini is way more comfortable for lounging on the couch, on the bed, or keeping nearby during the day.
I sent away for a repair kit from www.replacementlaptopkeys.com that finally arrived today, and I has a sad: I did NOT order an exact match for the little doodads that go under the keycap. There are a lot of ZAGG keyboards on their page and I thought I had narrowed down the best match, but no. Thanks for playing. So I sent off an email to the seller, not expecting a refund, just to see if they have a suggestion. I already tried a low tech repair that did not work, so will make do for now.
In other news of interest to nobody but me, the family seems to be okay here; my extended family back in the Intermountain West is doing well and growing, friends are okay. It’s hard to be more specific than that, because in the winter we don’t get together as often – especially my cycling friends, though we have an active chitchat always going in Facebook Messenger. There may be something going on Sunday for an outdoor activity in the cold, but (fortunately) I’m committed for Sunday mornings until after Easter over at Holy Moly.
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and news via TuneIn and Stitcher lately. I’m currently listening to “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow, which is a companion to his book of the same name – which I haven’t read yet. It’s still interesting because it uses Farrow’s audio files of some of his interview subjects, and in some cases, people that he went back and spoke with after the fact to get their reaction to the story. It’s fascinating, and parts of it are harrowing. Voice after voice after voice, women talking about being victimized and then silenced by Harvey Weinstein – thank God he was convicted of at least a couple of the charges against him, and is in prison awaiting sentencing.
I often listen to Pod Save America – in this era I find its snarky yet informative tone helpful. As it turns out, Ronan Farrow is the spouse of one of the PSA hosts, Jon Lovett. Apparently it’s a small world.
Another podcast is really just the audio recording of The Rachel Maddow Show (TRMS) – most nights I watch the show, some nights I watch it via DVR, other times I just listen to audio. Why? Again, I find it comforting in this era. Sometimes TRMS delves deeply into a story, every now and then it goes a little too deeply into the weeds (as in the notorious night when “Trump’s NY State Tax Returns” were sort of released). I appreciate the way Maddow treats guests – it’s one on one, whether they are physically in the studio or via “remote.” Other news show hosts opt for the “panel” approach and they call on people one by one, and sometimes there’s a lot of backchat and jockeying. It can be annoying.
Maybe I watch cable news too much lately – again, due to our current predicament with an actual bully occupying the Bully Pulpit. But I feel this compulsion to be informed, or maybe it’s an obligation to be a witness to history.
For instance, yesterday was History – an impeached president* was acquitted by the spineless bootlickers of the Republican Senate (yes, I’m jaded, and this blogpost was started a few weeks ago and I’m behind). In a pleasant surprise, the junior Senator from Utah, Mitt “Mittens” Romney, voted to convict. For me, as a former Utahn (and scarred by the experience of growing up non-Mormon in Utah) I was actually shocked, and grudgingly had to give Romney props for adhering to his sacred oath of impartialism for the impeachment trial.
Moving on into March, which is already full of madness…
So we’re still waiting for Something Good to Happen, and it’s been a long and bumpy month with ups and downs. Today was a good day, with some good signs and at least an update that one option was not going to work out. More options are still out there and there is positive forward movement.
Meanwhile, Happy Coronavirus Crisis, everybody! I’m in corporate travel and it’s been wild lately with major corporations (some of them our customers) cancelling huge domestic and international meetings, and airlines canceling flights. And we’re still being “led” by a certifiable idiot who’s doing his level best to muddy the water, obscure lines of communication, and push blame on anyone (Obama!) and anything (cruise ships not yet in America!) that he can.
I am reading 3 different books and it’s slow going because I keep getting distracted by current events, workplace stresses, family doings, and anything on TV that has a sexy bald ex-admiral or treasure hunters with more money than sense. I’ll add them in later as I had to update my books plugin the hard way. But I’m reading Rachel Maddow’s book Blowout, Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill, and I may or may not get to a third book that I haven’t even cracked yet.
It’s finally getting closer to spring and I need to get out on my bike. But it’s been cold off and on. Yes? No? Maybe? More & more & more & excuses needed!
I’m currently reading this book and honest to God, it’s a slog.
I recently decided to blog more, and read more, trying to be less hyper focused on the national impeachment trial crisis. So I started using my elderly iPad, with a ZAGG keyboard featuring a busted “R” key, instead of the bigger desktop and medium laptop I have, because reasons. And herrrrrrrrrrrre we arrrrrre blogging.
So far, I’ve checked out 3 books and read two, and this last one is just not that good.
The author has a lot of writing credits for TV and media – but the characters are flat, the premise is a bit precious, and it reads like a spec script for a Victorian murder series that didn’t sell.
I’m a fast reader – I read that little dragon fantasy novel in a day. I read the true crime book in a few hours. I’ve been at this Ashmolean thing for a week. And I usually am a sucker for a British cozy set someplace like Oxford or the Cotswolds.
I have even contemplated skipping to the end and not finishing it. That’s heresy.
Meanwhile, I ordered a replacement R key, so that’s hopefully going to have a happy ending!
UPDATE: I finally gave up at about 175 pages in and skipped to the end. See Goodreads for a final review.
Finally, I ended up skipping to the end, something I almost never do with mysteries. The characters are engaging enough but a bit anachronistic, the dialogue labors to be arch, and the setting mentions just enough local color to be “Oxonian” without really giving the reader an immersive experience.
Full disclosure: I’ve visited Oxford (and the Ashmolean Museum) a few times but am no expert, and I’ve read authors who set mysteries there like Crispin, Sayers, and so on. This book just didn’t give me the right sense of time and place.
And the ending? Unsatisfying.
Lock the doors before reading.
What a perfect little book, introducing us to a lush Regency-era romance of manners and family intrigue – but with dragons.
How would such a society operate? What happens when the Industrial Revolution hits and manual dexterity becomes even more critical? And how the devil do they fit on the steam trains?
I read this book – no, I devoured it whole, as is proper – within a few hours. The local library happened to have the pocket hardcover edition, and it’s a beautiful little volume.
it doesn’t seem to be part of a series, and leaves some intriguing questions about the ancient history of dragons. I’ll definitely read more by Jo Walton, an award-winning author, and hope that she’ll answer some of those questions some day.
This looks amazing:
Divided by continent, YOU ARE HERE represents one (idealized) orbit of the ISS. This planetary photo tour — surprising, playful, thought-provoking, and visually delightful — is also punctuated with fun, fascinating commentary on life in zero gravity.
Not too long ago, I got an email from Amazon:
We’re pleased to announce that the Amazon Associates program is again open to residents of the State of Illinois. We’re now able to re-open the program because the Illinois State Supreme Court recently struck down legislation that had forced Amazon to close the program to residents of Illinois. Amazon strongly supports federal legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act thatâ€™s now pending before Congress, which is the only constitutional way to resolve interstate sales tax collection issues.
Well, now. It seems like I have to re-apply if this email is to be believed. I should have done something about it before Christmas, but given the way I’ve been reading books on my iPad Kindle app lately, it might not be a bad idea to explore this.
some time later, after refreshments…
All signed up again, and started a basic Amazon Deals page. All proceeds will benefit St Nicholas Episcopal Church, which offers an evening food pantry twice a month and hosts a lot of AA and GA support groups (there are at least 2 or 3 meetings every single day). We’re not just a church, we’re a community (including people who wouldn’t normally set foot in a churchy church).
Long, long, long ago I used to have a bookshelf page; I’ll have to see if I can easily set that up again.
Meanwhile, after stumbling across the works of Peter Mayle (saw a movie called A Good Year) I’ve been reading a lot more on my trusty old iPad. I’ve read… 4 books in the last 3 days – they’re light, fast reads, very engaging but somehow they leave you hungry for more.
And thanks to reading about all that delicious, locally sourced Provencal food, I ended up getting hungry for something savory and hearty, which is how I was somehow inspired to make a mish-mosh of Pasta Carbonara mixed up with sauteed kale with paprika. It was truly awesome. I kind of cheated by not using bacon or pancetta… we had a big hunk of honey ham left over that needed to be used, so I diced about a cup of juicy, tender ham and some of the fatty bits and got that crisped on the edges in the skillet, and then sauteed the blanched kale in that same skillet with onions, while also doing the magical “no cream” carbonara with egg and Parmesan cheese at the same time. Both recipes are from Simply Recipes, but they were mighty in combination.
This year’s science fiction books are going to rock. John Scalzi returns to the Old Man’s War universe, there’s a brand new Neil Gaiman novel, and Stephen King’s long-awaited sequel to The Shining. Plus brand new books from Austin Grossman, Nalo Hopkinson, Christopher Priest, Diana Gabaldon, Robert J. Sawyer, Joe Hill… and J.R.R. Tolkien?
So here’s a list of things for me to think about reading this year instead!
How many of these books have you read? How many would you like to read? I’ve read a small fraction of the books on this list, but a whole lot more authors and books are missing in action. Admittedly, this list is pretty heavy on British authors.
Selected by the Guardian’s Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels â€“ no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems â€“ from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements â€“ love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel â€“ they appear here for the first time in a single list.
Under the Comedy heading, some of the books I’ve read on this list – favorites are in bold.
- Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. Main character is British, makes funny faces.
- Queen Lucia by EF Benson. Main character is British, puts on airs
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. “Hunger is the best sauce.”
- The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin. HILARIOUS British mystery. Entire series excellent.
- The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
- Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. The book AND the movie.
- Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding – read in college
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House by Eric Hodgkins – family member had it
- The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
- A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy TooleA lifetime of funny.
- Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout (actually by Kurt Vonnegut, SF porn goodness!)
- The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse
Under Crime, there’ll probably be a lot of listings:
- The Man with the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren
- Trent’s Last Case by EC Bentley
- The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
- The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
- The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
- A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
- An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
- The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
- Cover Her Face by PD James
- A Taste for Death by PD James
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers
- Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L Sayers
- Native Son by Richard Wright – read in high school
WHAT? 5 books by Agatha Christie, and nothing by Ngaio Marsh, none of Emund Crispin’s books listed as mysteries and not comedies, and the best of Sayers, Tey, and Grisham missing? Odd.
The next category is Family and Self, so, uh.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- The L Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
- Herzog by Saul Bellow
- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
- The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
- Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – had to, he brought in dry cleaning to me!!
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
Strange, I read books by many of these authors, but not these particular books
Next, a category called Love. Meh.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – visited the home of the Brontes and a farm on the moor
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- Adam Bede by George Eliot
- The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
- The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
- A Room with a View by EM Forster
- The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
- The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico
- Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
- Lolita, or the Confessions of a White Widowed Male by Vladimir Nabokov
- Pamela by Samuel Richardson
- Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
- Love Story by Eric Segal
Hmm. Again, I read a lot of other books by the authors on the list. Also, a lot of dutiful assigned reading from college and high school (pretty much anything from the 18th-19th centuries was assigned, but I enjoyed most of them (Pamela and Clarissa, not so much). There are a LOT of books on this list that got made into movies, so though I may not have read them, I was familiar with them.
At last! Science Fiction and Fantasy. Here’s where I get to the good stuff.
- The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys
- A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
- Erewhon by Samuel Butler
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
- The Man who was Thursday by GK Chesterton
- Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – what an enjoyably strange book!
- The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick
- Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
- The Magus by John Fowles
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
- Neuromancer by William Gibson
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
- The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein – didn’t really grok this book.
- Dune by Frank L Herbert – I once watched Herbert make an ass of himself.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
- The Earthsea Series by Ursula Le Guin
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin – Frank Herbert was an ass to her.
- The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
- A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller Jr
- Ringworld by Larry Niven
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
- Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake OH GOD I WISH I COULD UNREAD THESE AWFUL BOOKS
- The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett – should read more. GREAT Second Life sim!
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson – an inspiration of Second Life
- The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien SO much a part of my life
- The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien Even bigger part of my life
- Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Time Machine by HG Wells
Wow. A lot of omissions on this list. Granted, I don’t expect Keith Laumer to have fans outside of the US, but I was expecting some of the female authors, like Cherryh, Tiptree, McCaffrey, Norton, and a shipload of others.
Next, the State of the Nation. I don’t think there’s a lot here for me…
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
- Sister Carrie by Theodor Dreiser
- Middlemarch by George Eliot
- Silas Marner by George Eliot
- A Passage to India by EM Forster
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovtich by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
- The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
More reading assignment books, and more missing authors and titles.
Next, a category for War and Travel. Really?
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
- Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
- The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – NOW I see why this was missing earlier
- The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas – and this one, too
- Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser – What a loathsome asshole Flashman is
- For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – Another selfish asshole. The woman dies.
- The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope – way less interesting than the title sounded
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – my first encounter with magic realism
- Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener
- Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
- The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
- Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
- Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson – what’s this doing here?
- A Sentimental Journey by Lawrence Sterne
- Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
Harrumph. I started out thinking I’d find a lot more literary friends on this list when I spotted Edmund Crispin’s “The Gilded Fly” on the Comedy list – but each list came up short on some of my favorite authors, or their most representative books. Also, the categories are somewhat arbitrary. Still, an interesting exercise.
Sometime next year I’ll get around to blogging about our wonderful recent vacation to the Olympic Peninsula and Seattle – one of the most fun things was dropping in on my friend Seattle Tammy at her store, Books on 7th, in Hoquiam Washington.
You can even BUY BOOKS FROM THEIR ONLINE STORE, and I happen to know they just got in a big consignment of old cookery books…
Turns out Hoquiam is now famous after a recent incident with a deceased member of the Family Mustelidae put them on the international news wires, and LOLmarten images went viral.
â€œWeâ€™re not all running around here with weasels,â€ the mayor of Hoquiam, Jack Durney, insists.
His tone is genial, but he admits to a level of frustration as today the Google alerts for â€œHoquiamâ€ pile up from national sources, most containing an explanation of the distinction between a marten and a weasel.
â€œA marten is a member of the weasel family,â€ helpfully concludes the ur-AP story on the assault by a man also carrying a dead marten.
What Durney wishes national media would ask him about is Governor Gregoire awarding Hoquiam a Smart Communities Award for the third year in a row. Hoquiamâ€™s downtown revitalization campaign won under the â€œDevelopment Project to Implement a Planâ€ category. Radio station KBKW reports:
The ongoing project has focused on public improvements to downtown including new ADA accessible sidewalks, street trees, decorative lamp posts and a new riverfront walkway. Hoquiam has seen a burst in new business activity and business improvements through the opening of Tullyâ€™s, Levee Feed and Pet Supply, Books on 7th, Pure Clothing, and the 8th Street Ale House to name a few.
HEY YA!!! I was wondering why all the FUCK YOU!!! I’M A MARTEN! shirts suddenly appeared in Second Life (Tammy made some to give away to mutual friends), and I’d seen a few LOLmarten macros in my feed, too.
Only the other day I was commiserating with Tammy about business being slow and recommended she find herself some free publicity, and here she is in the news, sorta kinda, with dead martens asserting their martenhood all over town. Or possibly minkness, as Tammy notes:
The Dave Barry rule applies here: You just can’t make this stuff up. Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers was contacted by the Game Department, as martens hadn’t been seen on the Harbor for 50 years. After seeing a photo, they replied “Never mind, it’s a mink.”
If you love books, Tammy’s shop in Hoquiam is a fun place to stop by – small enough to be cozy, big enough to have an interesting and eclectic selection. We also patronized the 8th Street Ale house for lunch, where she and I enjoyed our Hoppy Bitch Ales very much, thank you.
With all this world-wide attention focused on Hoquiam, it seems poised to make great strides as the center of all your marten-based small predator needs. It’s a cute town, aiming to get cuter with the planned walkway along the waterfront. Drop by sometime soon! If it turns out it really was a mink, that’s okay, too.