Has it really been two months since I last posted? Blimey. I can never think of anything to write about though, and it's more interesting reading about you lot than it is writing about anything that I've been doing.

Ran out of episodes of Lucifer, and have no idea when season four is likely to appear, but The Gifted came back, which sort of filled a hole. It's been brilliant again, but it'll be finishing soon, as it only has short seasons. Cold Feet has come back too, and I recorded episode one, but haven't watched it yet. Which is awkward, as it will soon be time for episode two. Can't seem to summon up the enthusiasm though. No more Doctor Who until early 2020, but I did remember the other day that I started watching Heroes season one a couple of years back, and didn't get past about episode five. So I suppose I could go back to that at some point. I was enjoying it. It's just a question of a: remembering, and b: being bothered to get the DVDs out.

Reading-wise, I've just finished a book on Irish history, which was pretty lightweight, but interesting enough. I've been wanting to read something on general 19th century Irish life for a while, since family history research showed me that most of my family seem to have come from there. I wish the rest was as easy to read about (Slovenian history tends to be swallowed up by Habsburg stuff, since Slovenia technically didn't exist until comparatively recently, and 'modern' Alexandria, despite being a multi-ethnic metropolis until the Suez Crisis, seems mainly the preserve of literary writing, rather than historical. Italy is a bit easier, if lacking on the history of ordinary people). It's nice getting a bit of historical context. Going in an entirely different direction, I'll probably read Neil Gaiman's take on Norse mythology next.

Beyond that, there has been work, trying to get stuff done in the garden, and Fandom Stockinging. 2018 came to a complicated conclusion, and I'm rather glad to have got it out of the way. Best book read in 2018? Either The Dinosaur Hunters by Deborah Cadbury, or Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I would have said that the best album of 2018 was Who Sold The Moon? by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, but apparently that came out in 2017. So... As Long As I Have You by Roger Daltrey perhaps. Best film would have to be Infinity War I guess, as it's the only 2018 film I watched. Although The Greatest Showman was released in the UK on Boxing Day 2017, so that nearly counts. Damn it, it counts. That's the best film of 2018 (and I don't make my book choices be from the year, so why discriminate!) And best telly is obviously Lucifer, although many hurrahs for the Thirteenth Doctor. Doctor Who has been so good this year.

I'm not sure if the orange lump on my lap is a cat disguised as a teddy bear, or a teddy bear disguised as a cat, but either way, it makes it very hard to type! I am being kneaded and dribbled on. And now I have to go and do stuff. Fandom Stocking reveals should be later today, so have a good time, everyone. And then it will be Festivids! Huzzah.

Bye.
swordznsorcery: (lucifer)
( Nov. 5th, 2018 20:17)
I keep forgetting to do this - and when I don't forget, I never seem to have the time. But I have watched things! And some of them aren't Lucifer. For one thing, how good is Doctor Who at the moment?! I'm delighted with the new series. Jodie Whittaker feels more like the Doctor that I grew up watching than any of the other New Series takes on the character. No "lonely god" nonsense. No super-powerful being. Back to being a cosmic hobo (albeit a really, really clever one). I like her gang lots, I like the group dynamic, and I'm having fun. Also, they don't seem to be trying to make each episode BIGGER than the last, and the music hasn't annoyed me once yet. It's remembered that it's only supposed to be incidental, and not a constant cacophony of howling voices. Huzzah. So I am happy about all of that.

Also, the other day I happened to look at a TV guide for the first time in about three years, and I saw that a channel called Talking Pictures TV were showing a 1954 film called It Should Happen To You. Not a very well known film, but it was Jack Lemmon's first big role, and it also starred Judy Holliday. So obviously I had to record that. I watched it at the weekend, and it was daft and entertaining, and very 1950s. Judy Holliday was wonderful. She's almost unknown now, which is terribly sad. Primarily a Broadway star, she only made a few films, because she died young. She really lights up the screen though. She's magnetic - and with a great singing voice too. I first saw her in Bells Are Ringing (1960), the film version of one of her Broadway hits. She stars in the film with Dean Martin, and I very much recommend it if it ever comes up on TV. Anyway, It Should Happen To You gave her a good opportunity to shine, and raise more than a few smiles.

My beloved Top Of The Pops repeats have hit a low point - Chris de Bleurgh at number one forever with Lady In Red. Impressively, it's even worse than I remembered. And, just to make things even worse, they let him sing it live, just him and his piano. Seriously, it's what the fast forward button was invented for; although the iPlayer doesn't really do fast forward. They should look into that, just in case he's ever in the charts again. More seriously, all this means that we've arrived in August of 1986. I'm starting secondary school any time now. This is extremely disconcerting. Some things you really don't want to live through again, even obliquely.

Not reading much lately. I've been sorting through some books to see what I can get rid of, so I've been sort of re-reading a few old ones. Currently half reading Shadowmancer, by GP Taylor. It's definitely going in the jumble box!

Mostly though, I'm still watching Lucifer. Loving season three. It got an increase in episodes, and they decided to use them by going old school, and doing a bunch of standalones. It gives the support cast more of a chance to shine, and they've come up with some brilliant little detours from the main plot. The field trip to Las Vegas was wonderful, and there was also a fun flashback episode, showing Lucifer's arrival on Earth, pre-series. The internet doesn't seem to enjoy it all nearly as much as I do, as not every second of every episode is spent focused on The Ship, but whatever. I don't think I'll ever understand modern telly viewers.

I'll leave you with some Lucifer fanvids, as I found a vidder on YouTube who makes awesome ones. Probably some mild and non-specific spoilers (or possibly whacking great ones, depending on your outlook), so approach with caution if you're thinking of giving the show a go. Or just watch them anyway, as they're brill.

Bring Out The Bad (a compilation of the show's sillier side, as well as some drama):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysjYrEIruuw

A Little Wicked (a celebration of the glory that is Maze):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wu5Q0SW0yk

I Like Trouble (in which there is trouble):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmXhGaeH8IE
swordznsorcery: (lucifer)
( Jun. 18th, 2018 21:18)
It is Monday, and - marvel of marvels - I've actually remembered to do this. I've even watched something, so it's not just books.

Reading's been a mixed bag lately. I've been reading this trilogy on and off. It's called the Riftworld Trilogy, by Raymond E Feist, and I started it last year I think. I seem to have missed out on most of the famous fantasy series, so I thought I'd try one where the books aren't nine hundred pages each. Books one and two were great, and I raced through them. Book three turned out to be a turgid wasteland. This is the first in a whole series of trilogies by Feist, which is a little daunting to say the least, especially if the others are likely to be more of the same. Still, maybe one day.

I followed that up with a Blyton, as I found one in a charity store last month, and couldn't resist. It was one of my favourites of hers when I was very small, called The Adventure Of The Strange Ruby. It's a great fun adventure about a brother and sister who go on holiday to Swanage, and rescue some kidnapped twins. There's abandoned mansions, and sinister statues, and casual racism, hurrah. I love how the children's mother has to go away and look after a sick relative, so she just pats the kids on the head, and tells them to go off and camp for a few days. Blyton is the antidote to over-protective parents - which is kind of ironic, given that the children in her books spend most of their lives a: talking to strangers, and b: getting kidnapped. But there you go.

Then I read a fabulous book called The Dinosaur Hunters, by Deborah Cadbury, about the early years of palaeontology, and the gaggle of eccentric English amateurs who first discovered dinosaurs, and invented geology and uncovered evolution in the process - much to the consternation of those of them who were also vicars (vicars had education, money, and leisure time, and were the backbone of early geology). I've been hearing wonderful things about this book for years, but have only just got around to it, and I'm glad I did. Absolutely brilliant. I've moved on to a potted history of Alexandria now, which is family history stuff. Fascinating city.

Viewing-wise, I've been catching up on RTD's A Very English Scandal. It aired on the Beeb some weeks ago, but I never remember to actually watch the telly these days. It's up on the iPlayer for another few weeks (and comes to BBC America at the end of the month), and I heartily recommend it. Terrific performances, a lovely thread of black humour, and for once Murray Gold didn't make me want to throttle him. Lovely costume and set design too, perfectly recreating the naff decor of the sixties and seventies, and also the frequently inadvisable moustaches. If you haven't seen it - see it.

Also still watching the Top Of The Pops repeats, which is highly compulsive, but frequently inadvisable. We're heading into autumn of 1985 now. I've had Feargal Sharkey singing A Good Heart in my head for the last forty-eight hours, and I may need to hunt him down and exact revenge.

And Lucifer got saved from cancellation! Huzzah!
I really have to watch something, so that my Media Monday can actually be media-y again, instead of just books. Maybe Doctor Who will come back soon. I mean, there's Agents Of SHIELD, obviously, but I don't tend to talk about that. Stuff blows up, Coulson is cool, alien ray guns, boom. Although wouldn't Elizabeth Henstridge make a good Doctor? Yeah, I know - 90% of my f-list don't know who she is! But trust me, she'd be great.

Anyway, books. I'm currently reading something called The Outcasts Of Time, by Ian Mortimer. He usually writes non-fic, and is the author of the excellent Time Traveller's Guides series, amongst one or two others. This is his first foray into fiction, and is basically a time travel adventure. In practice it's a thinly disguised history text book, but I don't mind that: a time travel adventure with a shedload of accurate historical detail is no bad thing. It's an odd one though. In a nutshell, it's about a man living each day ninety-nine years after the last, after making a deal with someone or something, in order to escape the plague. Given the odd complexity of the set-up, and the fact that it appears completely without reason or logic, I can only assume that the Master is behind it all. I fully expect some goateed sniggering on the final pages.

I do quite recommend this one. It's written both in the first person and in the present tense, two literary conventions that I generally loathe, but I'm not minding too much. It's amiable enough, it's very readable, and the historical detailing is lovely. The plot is a bit thin - John arrives somewhere, examines his surroundings and meets a few people, and then hops forward another ninety-nine years - and there's the ever present issue of quite why anybody would set him at his time-hopping in the first place. But it's as good a way as any to read some social history; and maybe there'll be an explanation for it all eventually (I'm still betting on the Master). If you fancy a time travel adventure (and who doesn't, at least occasionally?), you could do a lot worse. That doesn't exactly sound like effusive praise, I know, but it's a first attempt at fiction, and I don't think he's trying to be the next Michael Crichton or Isaac Asimov. I'd prefer a bit more plot, but I'm happy with what it is. If you like his other books, it's a pretty fair bet that you'll like this.

I also read a book called Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, which is a history of humankind. Quite provocative, very readable, and roughly the size of a small country (about five hundred pages). I'm glad I waited for the paperback! Very good, anyway. Not as easy a read as the above, perhaps, but worth it.

And now I'm off time-travelling again. Next stop, 1941!
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swordznsorcery: (methos)
( Feb. 26th, 2018 19:39)
This "Media Monday" is turning out to be more and more of a misnomer. Still watching nothing at all, bar old episodes of Top Of The Pops courtesy of the iPlayer. 1981 has segued into 1982; and whilst the former was wall to wall Adam and the Ants and Shakin' Stevens, 1982 has given me three weeks at number one for Tight Fit with The Lion Sleeps Tonight, followed by three weeks of the Goombay Dance Band and Seven Tears. Oh eighties. Where did your cool go?! (Although I've developed a sneaking fondness for Seven Tears). Over in 1985, Gary Davies has reached peak hair, Kid Jensen has abandoned me for ITV, and Janice Long and Peter Powell are supposed to be pretending that they're not an item. The music has hair nearly as big as Gary Davies's, and I can amuse myself spotting the acts that have managed to survive long enough to make both eras. 1982-5 is a long time in pop music.

Books! Currently reading Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveller's Guide To Elizabethan England, although I've not finished the first chapter yet. Promising though. I like his writing style, and he clearly knows his stuff. I recommended the last one in the series, and you all turned out to have already read it! But this one looks like a good sequel, in case I've beaten some of you to it this time. A couple of books back, I read another one by the same author, Ten Centuries Of Change, which examines the progression of human society under such headings as transport, science and technology, medicine, etc, over the last thousand years. Good book.

I also read a very good book called Forensics, by Val McDermid, who apparently writes whodunnits as her day job (gloomy modern ones though, so I've not read any of them). Forensics examines the use of science in crime investigation, including DNA, fingerprinting, computing, and a host of other techniques. Interesting stuff, and she makes it all really readable, with some fascinating case studies, both historical and modern. Not for everybody, I appreciate that, although she does keep the gory stuff to a minimum!

Think that's everything. Don't get snowed in tonight. :)
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swordznsorcery: (queen)
( Jan. 29th, 2018 19:55)
How is it nearly the end of the month? Where did January go? Only yesterday there was Christmas stuff all over the place, and now it's all Easter eggs everywhere.

I haven't done one of these posts in ages, I don't think. It's probably not going to be much of one now, either, as I haven't really watched a lot. I am reading rather a good book at the moment though. It's called A History Of Ancient Britain, by Neil Oliver, and apparently it accompanies some TV series which I'd not heard of. Nicely jaunty book, anyway. I've not got very far with it - we're just coming out of the last Ice Age - but it's very promising. I suspect it's a few years old though, as Oliver says that he doesn't agree with his fellow historians' idea that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred at all, whereas we now know that they did. It's all there in the Northern European genome. Doesn't mean that it was a starry-eyed romance of course, but it clearly did happen. And that's my reading.

On the watching front, I've been enjoying (mostly!) the 1980s Top Of The Pops repeats on the iPlayer. It was 1984 for most of last year, and we've just started 1985. Last week somebody dumped a whole load of 1981 episodes there though, so I spent Sunday chain-watching about a billion of them (all right: five). 1981! That pretty much marks the time when I first got into proper TOTP watching: Shaky and Adam Ant all over the Top Ten; a very young Spandau Ballet and the Duranies; blasted Chas and Dave, and their interminable rabbits. The Cure just did their first appearance. And every other song in the top twenty being a John Lennon one. Gods, it was all so long ago!

And that's that. Other than [community profile] festivids going live! [community profile] festivids, hurrah (and thank you to [personal profile] thisbluespirit, as I always forget to keep an eye open for it). My favourite one this year is a rather nice Ladyhawke one here. It's not a very well known film, unfortunately, though it does have something of a cult following on the internet. It's based on an old European fairy tale, about a pair of lovers separated by a magic curse - she's a hawk by day, and he's a wolf by night. And there are swords, and a very big horse. The vid does a nice job of capturing the spirit and the visuals, and is very nicely done.

I think that's it now. I'm off to boil the kettle.
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swordznsorcery: (sleepy team)
( Jan. 20th, 2018 20:25)
Shamelessly ganked off [personal profile] liadtbunny, some bits about books encountered in 2017.

Books books books )
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swordznsorcery: (sleepy team)
( Dec. 30th, 2017 21:47)
Nicked off [personal profile] liadtbunny, mainly because I have to post more, or I might just forget how.

Your main fandom of the year?

In the sense of fandom meaning something that you take an active part in, other than merely watching the source material, none. I don't seem to do that anymore. I do belong to a Doctor Who forum, but I only hang out in the bits where nobody ever talks about the show, because fans are frequently best avoided. Since the IMDb forums were decommissioned, I haven't really done a lot of fandoming at all.

Your favourite film watched this year?

It might have to be Guardians of the Galaxy II (2016) by default, simply because I can't remember watching any other films this year. I did watch Scared Stiff (1953) and Living It Up (1954), to celebrate Dean Martin's hundrdth birthday back in June, but those were rewatches, and I'm not sure they count.

Your favourite book read this year?

Ooh, tough one. I'm split three ways. Possibly West With The Night, by Beryl Markham, a beautifully written memoir of the early days of commercial flight in Africa, or possibly Golden Hill, by Francis Spufford, a brilliant story set in the early days of the European settlement of North America, or perhaps Ivory, Apes & Peacocks, by Alan Root, a wonderful memoir about the early days of wildlife filming, mainly in Africa. Really not sure I could choose. Early days seems to be a theme, doesn't it!

Your favourite album or song to listen to this year?

Who Built The Moon?, by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, is definitely my album of the year, in terms of new stuff. Last.fm tells me that the album I've listened to most this year is Queen's Greatest Hits I, and that the song I've listened to most this year is Gerry & the Pacemakers I Like It. Neither of which exactly screams 2017!

Your favourite TV show of the year?

Tough choice between The Gifted (new for this year), and Lucifer, which I think was last year's winner. The former is still getting going, so the latter probably wins again. Agents Of SHIELD is very good again this year, but I'm not voting for it until somebody turns a sodding light on.

Your best new fandom discovery of the year?

The Gifted. Great series. Looks certain to be axed, apparently (now there's a surprise). Meantime it's terrific though, with a fine cast.

Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?

Maybe Guardians of the Galaxy II. I enjoyed it, but it pales in comparison to the first film, mostly because they have this great gang, and they split them up for most of the film. The bits with Rocket and Groot were brilliant, but the stuff with Peter and his father dragged. Still a good film though, mostly.

Your fandom boyfriend of the year?

Baby Groot. Baby Groot may be the greatest thing ever to happen to film.

Your fandom girlfriend of the year?

A tough one. I think Maze from Lucifer won last year, and she probably wins again, even though she was off filming something else for much of the first half of the present season. AWOL or not, she's Maze. Not only would it be hard for anybody to beat her, but if they did, she'd kill them and me in pretty short order. And with a really funky knife.

Your biggest squee moment of the year?

I believe we covered this extensively last year, but I Do Not Squee. However, Baby Groot. Because Baby Groot. Doing absolutely anything. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g94CPc3nb4Q

The most missed of your old fandoms?

Sleepy Hollow :(

The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?

None that I can think of. There's nothing that tempts me, I don't think.

Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?

New New Who, I guess. Chibbers and Thirteen both. I like Moffat, but it should be good to have some new blood, and although I like Capaldi a lot, I don't know that he's been used especially well. It's a constant strength of the show that it allows for big change, and this feels like the right time for some of that change. Of course, it might all go horribly wrong, but we shall see!
swordznsorcery: (tardis)
( Nov. 13th, 2017 19:41)
I know, I'm rubbish at this. LJ has fallen by the wayside rather, due to general lack of time. I can just about keep up with DreamWidth, but never seem to manage to post anything! Not that there's anything interesting to post.

Currently re-reading Brideshead Revisited, after I saw a picture somewhere of Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews with Aloysius the teddy bear. I realised it had been twenty years since I last read it, so I dug out a dog-eared old copy that I had in a cardboard box in the attic (where most of my books live now, due to lack of space). I'm never sure entirely how I feel about Evelyn Waugh - [personal profile] thisbluespirit recently referred to him as cynical, which is rather apt - but I do like Brideshead Revisited quite particularly. I last read it in the spring of 1997, around the time that I took my finals, when I had very little else to do for a while, but sprawl in the sun in the university gardens, reading books that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. Given that the university was a long re-purposed stately home, a story set in the era of crumbling aristocracy, and the selling-off of old family mansions, was somewhat appropriate. And in fairness, it's about a bisexual man in a very open love triangle with a brother and sister, so it's quite modern too. And the language is very evocative, even if some of the paragraphs do go on for decades. Even more so than this one.

Prior to that I read a terrific book, which I think plenty of you would enjoy. It's called West With The Night, by Beryl Markham, and it's sort of an autobiography. Beryl Markham was the first female bush pilot, and spent a lot of time hurtling about the skies above Africa, being remarkable, and thinking herself perfectly ordinary. And the writing is just astounding. Utterly beautiful and compelling. Apparently everybody has always said that her husband wrote it really, but her biographer can find no evidence that he did, and plenty that he didn't. But everybody still believes it anyway. It's not a big book, and it's out of print, but I happened to find mention of it in some article somewhere, and went a-hunting on eBay, and it wasn't hard to find. Highly recommended (and I think she wrote it).

Watching wise, I've not done much. The BBC was very kind to me, and released Out Of The Blue on DVD. This was a police drama broadcast in the early nineties, which starred John Hannah and Neil Dudgeon, and which nobody but me seems to have seen. Consequently I've been variously accused of madness and imagining. But now it's out on DVD! Proof! And it's still jolly good. The Beeb have also put out another of their old police dramas; Rockliffe's Babies from the mid-eighties, which they've never repeated, and which has trickled away into the darkest recesses of most people's memories. It's about a group of young detectives, under the care of a grizzled old sergeant, and it's rather good (and very eighties). It was my first "grown up" series, watched in secret on a Friday night, when everybody else was out, and my mother was relaxing in the kitchen, off duty. Holds up well. Horribly expensive, but somebody has thoughtfully put it on YouTube. Shut up, yes I know, but I will buy it eventually. Tony Head was just in an episode, and Brian Croucher has just joined as the new boss. Fandoms of the world, collide!

Oh, and I've also just read a beautiful little book called Now We Are Six Hundred, by James Goss, which is basically Now We Are Six, rewritten for Time Lords. You'd think the joke would wear thin, but it never does. It's illustrated rather wonderfully by Russell T Davies, and is full of rhymes about Daleks and Cybermen and Romana. Some of it is very sweet, some of it is very funny, and one or two of the poems are really quite dark. Another one for the recommended list! (And the postscript is fab.)

So there you are. See you again next year. ;)
swordznsorcery: (face)
( Jul. 31st, 2017 20:56)
I don't think I've done one of these in a while. I don't seem to have done much of anything in a while, except race about the countryside in a whirl, attempting to Get Things Done. Still, on the plus side, one of the Things to get Done is the allotment, which has just started to produce profusions of runner beans, courgettes (bright yellow ones this year!) and raspberries. So I'm tired, but also well fed.

Anyways, I'm reading an especially good book at the moment. I don't really know what it's about, although I'm more than three quarters through - or, that is, I have absolutely no idea where it's heading, or why, but I do sort of know what it's about. Something Awful just happened, and I'm frightfully annoyed, but still loving the book, and looking forward to getting back to it. Seriously, the prose is an utter joy. It's called Golden Hill, and it's by somebody called Francis Spufford. It's about a young man who arrives in 18th century New York, and it's entirely written in 18th century style - so it's a sort of pastiche, in the same way that Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is, although set rather earlier. Apparently it won the Ondaatje prize (I don't believe I've ever heard of that, but Google tells me its quite prestigious). I recommend it unhesitatingly, if you are not scared off by meandering prose, and sentences that can go on for months.

Telly-watching-wise, I've now seen the first episode of Marchlands, so can claim to have actually seen our new Doctor in something. It's an ITV drama from a few years back, set in three different time zones (the 1960s, the 1980s, and whenever now was at the time). A young girl dies in the sixties, and her ghost makes friends with another young girl in the eighties. It clearly has some knock-on effect for the modern lot, but I haven't found out what yet. That will presumably come later. Jodie Whittaker is the dead girl's mother, and has dark hair, so I didn't recognise her at first. A Yorkshire accent - I wonder if she will keep that. So far it's diverting enough. If you're in the UK, she'll be on the BBC from August 8th, incidentally, in a new series. Trailer here. It also stars Emun Elliot who - after the eternal Paterson Joseph, naturally - was my first choice for the 13th Doctor, so I can amuse myself watching them both being doctors together. If I remember to watch it. Eagle-eyed viewers will of course recognise him from Paradox, The Paradise, and Los Malvados (cough).

There are probably other things, but I do not remember them. So I may just go and collapse in a heap. Albeit a slightly satisfied and accomplished-feeling one. With a nice book.
swordznsorcery: (sleepy team)
( Jul. 11th, 2017 21:42)
Memed from here and there. Bold those that apply.

1. You currently own more than 20 books.
2. You currently own more than 50 books.
3. You currently own more than 100 books.
4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader.
5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader.

6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands. (It's not so much "organisation", as "any which way that will make them fit in the shelves".)
7. You’re currently reading more than one book.

8. You read every single day.
9. You’re reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz.
10. Your essentials for leaving the house: wallet, phone, keys, and a book.
11. You’ve pulled an all-nighter reading a book.
12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again.
13. You’ve figured out how to incorporate books into your workout.

14. You’ve declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read. (Social activities? What are they?)
15. You view vacation time as “catch up on reading” time.

16. You’ve sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book. (Noooo! Do not bath with books! It spoils them!)
17. You’ve missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book.
18. You’ve almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book.
19. You’ve laughed out loud in public while reading a book.

20. You’ve cried in public while reading a book.
21. You’re the one everyone goes to for book recommendations.
22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy.

23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it.
24. If your friend doesn’t like the book you recommended, you’re heartbroken.
25. And you judge them. A little bit.
26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them.
27. You’ve vowed to convert a nonreader into a reader.
28. And you’ve succeeded.
29. You’ve attended book readings, launches, and signings.
30. You own several signed books.
31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street.
(Some of. A fair few are dead, which arguably could make them easier, or harder, to identify.)

32. In fact, you have.
33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you’d choose your favorite writer.
34. You own a first-edition book.
35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles.

36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day.
37. You have a “favorite” literary prize.
38. And you read the winners of that prize every year.
39. You’ve recorded every book you’ve ever read and what you thought of it.
40. You have a designated reading nook in your home.
41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor.
42. You gave your pet a literary name. (I didn't, but my parents did.)
43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands.
44. You’re a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you’re just texting. (I don't text. But if I did, I would be a texting pedant.)

45. You’ve given books as gifts for every occasion: birthdays, Valentine’s Day, graduations, Tuesdays...
46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can’t choose just one. You end up naming twelve books.
47. You love the smell of books.
48. You’ve binge-read an entire series or an author’s whole oeuvre in just a few days.
49. You’ve actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book.
50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you’ve finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure.
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swordznsorcery: (xenon)
( Jul. 3rd, 2017 21:28)
"Media" might be stretching it a bit this week, as (aside from Doctor Who) I've only watched Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. And it has just ended again. Woe. I don't think there's anything about that adaptation that I didn't like. Even the extra bits that weren't in the book worked perfectly (I'm thinking of the short hand needed to get characters into certain places, without the long narrative sequences of the book. Strange being arrested and escaping from prison, for example). And the whole thing is so gorgeously shot. The fellow behind the adaptation, Peter Harness, is adapting War Of The Worlds for the BBC at the moment. A period production, which is vanishingly rare for that book, and apparently scheduled for broadcast next year. Rather looking forward to seeing what he does with that. It's a great story.

Elsewhere, I've been doing some quite interesting reading. I've taken to librarying, and choosing books completely at random, without reading their synopses even. It's a fun experiment, as it means that I've been reading things that I never would have done otherwise. Mixed results, obviously, but I think I was trying to recapture the lack of preconception that I had as a kid, when I really would try anything. Sometimes it works well, and sometimes...!

One experiment was Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, which is about the build up to, and aftermath of, a shooting spree at an American high school, when an endlessly bullied boy snaps. Good attempts to get into the head of a boy pushed to his limit, whilst also offering no simple explanations or solutions. Also a good sketching of the mindset of popular kids, and how some people will always be popular, and some just never will be.

Another experiment was Rabbit, Run by John Updike, which apparently is a sixties classic. Less successful from my point of view than the Picoult book though! A rather pathetic young man, feeling that the world owes him something, drifts aimlessly from wife to mistress, hurting everybody and unable to commit. He's not supposed to be likeable, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable (for me anyway). I can see why it's a classic though. Must have been a heck of a shock to the system for American literature at the time.

Then I read a book called Packing For Mars: The Curious History Of Life In The Void by Mary Roach, which is about the history of space exploration, and absolutely fascinating. Mary Roach isn't a scientist, so there isn't as much depth in her book as I would usually want, but she makes up for that with sheer entertainment. Wonderful, often very funny tales of life as an astronaut, and about how various techniques were developed to deal with the unique issues of space travel. Fun stuff.

Oh, and another book! An elderly couple of my acquiantance have a book called The Complete Illustrated Cookery Book by Mollie Stanley Wrench. It fascinated me when I took a quick look through it, so I went a-hunting on eBay and bought a copy. It was published in 1935, and it's wonderful! No oven temperatures or gas marks. It tells you to put things on the fire, or on the edge of the fire. No short cuts, but everything to be made from scratch. And the recipes! Brains and feet and tongues. Lots of vegetarian stuff too though, as meat wasn't as easily available in those days, and a lot of people were very badly off. Also a lot of people didn't have any means of keeping food cool, so couldn't store the stuff of course. Lots of curry and chilli still. Some things never change! Frightening amounts of dripping and lard, and cream and butter; and a remarkable desire to smother everything in mayonnaise (home-made of course!).

It's lovely. I recommend it!
swordznsorcery: (tardis)
( Jun. 12th, 2017 21:44)
Lately I have been cruelly ignoring the Kindle, in favour of proper books. This is at least partly [personal profile] elenopa's fault, as she recently went on an Arthur Ransome Society weekend, and made me think (for the hundredth time) that I really ought to give his books another try. I scorned them rather as a child, for not being "proper" adventures, in that there are no bad guys/proper peril/fisticuffs, etc, and did my best to avoid them. Grown Up Me (well, slightly) decided that We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea might be a good place to start a reappraisal, as it has (nearly) proper pirates, and actual proper danger in it. It seemed too long for the amount of plot, and got a bit repetitive in places, but it was good, and I shall probably try another soon. In the meantime I've fallen down an old book rabbit hole, and am currently two thirds of the way through Gerald Durrell's My Family And Other Animals, which I also studiously avoided as a child, probably for much the same reason. It's not such a good read. Much funnier, but suffers from the most horrendously purple prose. It's like swimming up hill through treacle, but with witty anecdotes. It has its attractions, mind. It's my mother's edition, from 1959, and I think [personal profile] thisbluespirit will appreciate the cover:

... )

I do like a colour-coded Penguin!

On the telly front, I'm still wandering through a rewatch of the Beeb's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I love it muchly. This week was episode four, with the King's Roads, and Edward Petherbridge as George III (looking rather older, and considerably less dapper, than when he was Lord Peter Wimsey, just about the only other thing I've seen him in). Why are there only seven episodes? It's not fair. I find myself wanting a wartime spin-off, all about Jonathan doing magic for the army; and that's just for starters.

Oh, and hey - Doctor Who this week! I know it was a bit ridiculous, but I thought it was fun, and I was greatly entertained to see Anthony Calf in it (he was the captain). In 2015 I watched The Monocled Mutineer, Beau Geste and Fortunes Of War more or less at the same time, and he cropped up in all of them, so it was nice to see him again. And, yet again, being a period army type. Still, he didn't get shot this time, which is a step up.

And I think that's all for now. Which is just as well, as if I don't produce some kibble sharpish, I will be eaten by a small ginger cat. Bye.
swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( May. 15th, 2017 19:45)
Haven't done this in a while, as I haven't been watching anything much of late, save Doctor Who and Agents Of SHIELD; and talking about stuff that everybody is watching seems a bit pointless somehow. I have been reading though, and I've just finished a book that felt worth a mention. It's called The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, by Jöel Dicker, and it's a big, chunky, 600+ page whodunnit about a schoolgirl who was murdered in the summer of 1975, and the investigation that begins when her body is discovered in 2008. Although it's so big, it's a very easy read, and I found myself getting through it very quickly. So if anybody feels like a murder story that bounces about from year to year, and keeps throwing interesting hooks at you, that would be a good one to go for. Originally written in French, apparently, although I read it in English.

On the watching front, one thing that I did do was rewatch the first episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell today. Wednesday will be the second anniversary of the show's debut, so it felt like a good time. It's still fab. I'm appreciating Vincent Franklin as the brilliantly smarmy Drawlight a little more this time around, now that my attentions aren't so taken up with Strange and Norrell themselves. Also, he and Lascelles do some quite splendid snide bickering - typical bored, rich men about town, indulging in gossip, and getting their entertainment from other people's misfortunes. They're great side characters in the book, and they also work well in the series. If I could change anything in episode one, I think I should have liked to have seen a little more of Segundas. His role as a sort of magical fanboy is rather effective. It's nice to be seeing it all again.

This week's Last.fm top five artists:

Blondie (due in part to their new album, so I am a little bit up to date!)
Dean Martin
The Equals
Manic Street Preachers
Caro Emerald

In other news, I've decided to do that music meme that's knocking about, but since I've been completely incapable of choosing a song for the first question (I'm supposed to randomly choose one with a colour in the title, but who can randomly choose a song?), I've decided that it has to be from one of the above artists. So beneath the cut are the Equals with Black Skin Blue-Eyed Boys (released in 1970, and this is from a TV appearance in 1971).

Funky guitar under here )
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swordznsorcery: (whitecollar)
( Apr. 10th, 2017 20:56)
I keep forgetting to do this, although admittedly it doesn't change much from week to week. Since last time, I've watched a fascinating mini-series that, like Boy Dominic, I picked up in a Network sale a couple of years ago, and have only just got around to. It's called Wolcott, and was apparently Britain's first police drama with a black lead. I wish I could say that it distinguishes itself! First the good points: it has a great cast. George Harris is a charismatic lead, and heads the cast well as the titular Wolcott. He's supported by a shedload of British character actors, many of them familiar from other police dramas, including Christopher Ellison (Burnside from The Bill as - surprise! - a crooked detective). Rik Mayall also features as a loathsome, racist PC. It also has very funky music. That's where the good stuff ends. Apparently the cast hated the show, and I can see why. It's trying very hard to be Shaft, but what worked for New York City in the seventies, is not going to work for London, and certainly not in 1981, the year of the Brixton Riot. The characters are dreadful stereotypes. Wolcott himself is impossibly good; everybody else is either a racist, or a two-dimensional Jamaican gangster. Jeepers. I've since taken refuge in a rewatch of the final season of White Collar, which I loved so much at the time. It's still good. If you've never seen White Collar, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Oh, and also in the world of telly - Sleepy Hollow finished. No decision yet on whether there will be a fifth season. I ended up really loving season four, against all the odds. It was nearly as much fun as season one, and the new cast were all great. Jenny got to be properly awesome throughout, and the last scene of the final episode was proper silly grin stuff. A nice place to leave the show, if it turns out that that was it.

In reading, I've just finished A Symphony Of Echoes by Jodi Taylor, the second in her time-travelling historian series. It's all about an institute called St Mary's, which houses a band of historians, who travel through time to witness famous events. Think time-travelling history nerds, fuelled by tea and explosions, and you're pretty much there. The books are fast-moving; a bit shallow, admittedly, but fun. Sentences like "We're St Mary's - there's something wrong if something isn't on fire", will give you some indication as to why it appeals to me. I've heard that the series gets better as it progresses, so I shall certainly hunt out some more. Otherwise still scrambling through a complete Sherlock Holmes readthrough, and am currently on The Valley Of Fear, which is an interesting one. Don't think I've read it before. Holmes books are always oddities. Nothing happens in them - absolutely nothing at all. They break all of the "show, don't tell" rules. We're told about everything after it happens, and never witness anything exciting. And yet somehow you never mind. Conan Doyle's prose is a thing of beauty. (Although if you could stop with all the "You can tell he's a criminal by the shape of his head", and "It was clearly a woman's handwriting," Sir Arthur, that'd be good, thank you kindly.)

Also a thing of beauty (corny links, I has them) was the weather of the last few days. My mother's weeping cherry tree exploded into life quite magnificently (she's only had it a year, and last year it only managed one flower!). It's properly settled in now though, and it looks stunning. Spring is nice. I do wish this one particular wasp (I'm assuming it's the same one, purely because they look alike, although I admit that that's hardly damning evidence) wouldn't keep flying through my window though. I have to keep leaping madly to the kitten's defence to stop her trying to eat it. *sigh*

There are pictures under the cut, of springy colour. It's all grey again outside today though. You're a killjoy, April. Give me my sun back.

... )

Oh, and top five artists of the last seven days, courtesy of last.fm:

Queen
a-ha
Blondie
Joe Jackson
Pet Shop Boys

(a-ha just put out a new album in 2015, so that list is more modern than you might assume, honest.)
swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Mar. 20th, 2017 20:56)
Boy Dominic came to its inevitable end, in a sweet and joyful reunion. I felt bad for them, knowing that most of the cast were soon going to be murdered off-screen, in order to trigger an unexpected sequel. Still, even with that shadow hanging over it, it remained a fun little series. Julian Glover cropped up in a handful of episodes (he was evil, of course). One episode had Brian Wilde in it as a dastardly murderer, which amused me. Nice bit of unexpected casting. All in all, I recommend it, at least to fans of seventies telly. The usual caveats apply, obviously. In one episode the windows are very obviously made of plastic sheeting, which amused me. Partly because of how obvious it was, and partly because it hadn't been invented yet. Good gender balance though, and a fine cast.

Following the one-sided struggle against The Brothers Karamazov, I decided to stick to short books for a while! I read an interesting 1935 novella called It Can't Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis, which a lot of people have been recommending recently. Although it was written in 1935, it's quite clearly the story of Donald Trump's election, so possibly Sinclair Lewis had a time machine. An interesting one. Also read Douglas Adams's Last Chance To See, about his voyages around the world for the BBC in the late eighties, to track down endangered species. Two of them are gone now (and so, obviously, is he). The statistics quoted are terrifying, especially for the collapse of the northern white rhino population. Humanity, you suck.

What else? I watched Saving Mr Banks, the story of Walt Disney's struggle with PL Travers to get the rights to Mary Poppins. It was good, but a bit frustating. Every time somebody blinked, the narrative switched from the 1960s to the 1910s, or back again. Could have done with spending more than ten seconds in each one at a time. Also Colin Farrell was in it. Despite that, it was nicely done, and an interesting story. And Bradley Whitford was in it too, which helped to counteract Colin Farrell to some extent. I've been singing Mary Poppins songs ever since though, so it may have been a mistake.

Top five artists for the last seven days, according to last.fm:

01. Chuck Berry
02. Madness
03. Huey Lewis & The News
04. Duran Duran
05. Oasis

I know. I'm so modern and up to date.
swordznsorcery: (sleepy team)
( Feb. 27th, 2017 20:54)
It took effort (and I admit that I did skip some of the longer and more impenetrable chapters), but I have finished The Brothers Karamazov. Damned if I know what it's about though. I mean, certainly it's the tale of three brothers, and their father is murdered by somebody, but this apparently major event is probably only about a third of the narrative. The rest is wandering down lengthy side trails, talking of ailing schoolboys, boring monks, a veritable barrage of people with assorted ailments, and some people who may or may not be in love with each other. It must surely have been written whilst high. It's the only sensible explanation. (I'm guessing there's at least one level of allegory going on, and certainly there's comparative examples of fatherhood, and the importance of father figures, but jeepers). This is one book I'm not recommending! I've gone back to Sherlock Holmes now, and have just started The Hound Of The Baskervilles. It's a much better story, and Conan Doyle manages to tell in a dozen pages what Dostoevsky needs four hundred to even begin getting around to.

Boy Dominic remains entertaining, although it must be said that Richard Todd's bit of the plot (a short scene at the beginning and end of each episode) is infinitely more engaging than his wide-eyed son, still getting into assorted scrapes in the Yorkshire countryside. Each episode is only half an hour long though, and Brian Blessed is there, so it's enjoyable enough. Just had another Return To Treasure Island alumnus turn up, which was nice. Also falling in love with Sleepy Hollow all over again. Season four has been absolutely splendid so far.

Making use of last.fm's glorious statistics capabilities while it's still there (it seems forever in danger of falling before the unappealing juggernaut of Spotify), I see that my top five artists for the last seven days are:

1. George Harrison (14 plays)
2. The View (13 plays)
3. Kaiser Chiefs
3. Mika
3. Pulp (12 plays each)

I do like a nice list. Elsewhere I am mostly thinking about dragons for I Surrendered, and trying not to get sucked into the world of temptation that is Prompt Amnesty Week over at [community profile] 100words. Every ten weeks you get to choose any of the previous prompts. They are very prompty.

I have finished my cup of tea. Woe.

Bye.
swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Feb. 20th, 2017 20:37)
A blatant rip off of [personal profile] thisbluespirit's What I'm Reading Wednesday.

I think I've given up on The Brothers Karamazov. Or maybe I haven't. I shall probably pick it up again, but I've read two other books since I put it down last! Ordinarily I wouldn't struggle on with something, but people who are usually worth listening to keep telling me how good it is. The Kindle tells me I'm halfway through it, although goodness knows how. The less annoying brother just battered the butler possibly to death with a kitchen appliance, so it has briefly got interesting. I may persevere. In the meantime I'm reading something I picked up in a charity store: Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler. A husband and wife team of treasure hunters travel the globe seeking out archaeological finds, whilst being shot at. She's a history buff and a crack shot; he's an engineer and a danger magnet. It reads like a Hollywood blockbuster waiting to happen. It's good, but it's also very annoying - more to do with the writing style than the plot. People don't use cameras, they use Nikon 6FSb97s with HJK982.7 lenses, for example. Possibly he makes a packet on the advertising, as it's a trend that's repeated with cars, boats, jackets, shoes, phones, laptops, etc. But yeah, good story.

In Tellyland, lately I am mostly watching The Boy Dominic, which I bought two years ago for about 50p in a Network sale, and am only just getting around to. Richard Todd is believed lost at sea, and his young son Dominic, played by Jim Dale's son Murray Dale, wanders around the Yorkshire Dales in a silly haircut, getting into scrapes and missing his dad. Also starring Hildegard Neil in some slightly alarming make-up, and Brian Blessed apparently auditioning for Long John Silver (but with two legs). They made a sequel a couple of years later, in which both Richard Todd and Hildegard Neil had been horribly murdered, with seems very sad given how jolly hard Richard Todd is trying to get home. I shouldn't bother, Richard. You're safer as a castaway.

(Actually he isn't. He's just been drugged and kidnapped by dastardly foreign types, and is suffering from amnesia. But that probably still beats being horribly murdered in order to give your son a second set of adventures).

It's very well made, anyway. By Yorkshire TV, in 1974. Scarcely anything wobbles.
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I'm sure that I should probably have been doing useful things today, but instead I have been making clockwork dinosaurs. They don't quite work, at least without some disassembling, and careful sanding down of bits and pieces, but they sort of waddle a bit. My sister found them in Poundland. They're a brilliant design, if very small and fiddly, and putting them together was something of a comedy of rescuing bits from the cats, rescuing bits from the floor, and being incapable of telling one bit from another in the instructions. Clockwork dinosaurs under here )

So that's the only interesting thing that's happened lately. I don't seem to have posted in ages. (No change there then.) I keep meaning to, but I only ever get as far as thinking about what I want to say. I've been intending to mention a book that I read last month, as I know that it may well interest one or two of you. It's called Life With Kenneth Connor, by Jeremy Connor (he of the fisticuffs cameo in Carry On Nurse). It's not a particularly well-written book, and at less than two hundred pages it's not a particularly in-depth book, but it does provide a nice bit of insight into a fascinating life. It also gives a good account of the making of the Carry Ons, and also quite a bit of period theatre, briefly in wartime, and then mostly in the 1950s to the 1980s. Then there's He-de-Hi and 'Allo 'Allo later of course. Some interesting stuff for anybody into vintage BBC TV and radio, or Pinewood Studios. Jon Pertwee pops up, as you might expect given that he was an occasional Carry On-er, and Patrick Troughton also makes an appearance (on a motorbike!), as apparently he and KC were at drama school together. Yep, everybody on TV back then really did know each other.

Anyways, if you don't expect literary brilliance, it's a good little read. Some nice stuff about Kenneth Williams, proof that everybody in the world really does love Joan Sims, and some genuinely pleasant little LGBT moments as an added bonus. Recommended.

Also had some interesting viewing lately. I found this Screen One production on YouTube, called The Police. It's from 1990, and tells the story of a group of primary school children who set up their own police force to combat bullying. Everything goes wrong of course. An odd subject for a Screen One, since they were usually about adults, but then for all that the cast are young kids, it's not a childish story. Not cheerful or happy, but worth a watch!

Other than that, this month I have mostly been staring in mounting horror and befuddlement at the daily news, and getting caught in the rain. Meanwhile it's apparently February already. Whoever put the year into fast-forward, kindly put it back to normal speed. There's snowdrops out and daffodils coming up, and I've barely got the hang of January.

PS: Festivids happened! And there was much good stuff. Here, have some links (beneath the cut):... )

And now I have to go and do something more useful than clockwork dinosaurs. Bye.
How are we already in week #2? It's going to be 2018 before we've drawn breath at this rate. So far I'm not achieving a great deal. I started the new year by beginning to read The Brothers Karamazov, but that's ground to a resounding halt. Yeesh. There is a not a character I don't want to strangle (and I'd quite like to throttle Dostoevsky while I'm at it). I think I'll give it up for a bit, and try again later. My tenth anniversary rewatch of Torchwood was rather more successful, happily. I was pleased to find that I loved it just as much now as then, including the ones that I hadn't seen since their first showing. It looks quite hilariously cheap at times though. You can certainly tell that it was made in a hurry. Strictly speaking I should wait until this time next year for the tenth anniversary rewatch of season two, but I want to watch the James Marsters episode, so that ain't gonna happen.

In other still-old-but-newer-than-is-usual-for-me telly, I haven't watched any more Heroes since I last posted about it, because stuff always seems to get in the way. I must get back to it (preferably before Trump gets bored, and blows us all up come the summer). I think I've forgotten which episode I watched last though. Damn.

In non-fandom related stuffs... nope, sorry, that's all very boring. I ate a very nice banana this morning, if anybody's interested. Spent the weekend mainlining 1983 episodes of Top Of The Pops on the iPlayer. Peter Powell! Stupid clothes! Peter Powell in stupid clothes! Also Wham! and Spandau Ballet (more stupid clothes). Took the kitten to be spayed last week. She's now sporting a bald patch, although major surgery doesn't seem to have slowed her down any. (Technically she's not a kitten anymore, as she'll be two in May, but she has stunted growth due to a bad start in life, and also she's quite convinced she's still a kitten).

Figure A: Cats (this being the internet, you're probably familiar with the species).

The 2016 Fandom Meme, plus cats... )
.

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