Record of a Spaceborn Few, pp. 38 – 40

Self is enjoying this book. She didn’t think she would, because of the alternating viewpoints.  But she already likes one character a lot: Sawyer.

She loves Becky Chambers’s world-building. It is multi-layered and also precise.

For instance, there’s some kind of class system (with Humans somewhat farther down on the scale than they are right now, lol). Self knows this because Sawyer bags a transport to The Fleet. There, he immediately encounters “a branching sign that read Cargo Bays on the right and Central Plaza on the left, all the scales and claws went right.”

Sawyer is “a grounder.” He’s never been to the Fleet before. As a grounder, he’s used to mingling with ‘species.’

But suddenly he’s in a place where there are mostly humans. They speak a language called Ensk. Sawyer isn’t used to speaking Ensk: “His face said Human. His vowels said Harmagian.”

He looks for a place to eat and stops at Jojo’s (What a mundane name for a restaurant of the future!) and asks a woman behind the counter for a menu: “Exoskeletons crunched between her hands.” The woman tells Sawyer, “We’re out of red coaster stew.” So Sawyer says, “I’ll have twice-round pickle.”

Already self’s insides are roiling, imagining what goes into this dish. Sawyer’s insides are roiling as well, since he can’t see what the preparer is doing: “Something was chopped, something was ladled, a few bottles were shaken.”

Too funny.

Self would like to thank The Guardian for recommending Record of a Spaceborn Few. And for recommending The Essex Serpent and November Road.

Stay tuned.

The Guardian’s 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time

There is very little overlap been self’s reading list and the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time by The Guardian.

Below, books on The Guardian’s list that self has read:

2. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion

5. Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama

9. Dispatches, by Michael Herr

15. The Double Helix, by James D. Watson

20. Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson

23. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and EB White

33. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child-care, by Dr. Benjamin Spock

42. Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain (for a course on the Literature of World War I, taught by Prof. Albert Guerard at Stanford)

44. Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves (for a course on the Literature of World War I, taught by Prof. Albert Guerard at Stanford)

65. Roget’s Thesaurus

83. A History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon

92. The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys, via Claire Tomalin’s excellent biography of Pepys’ life

Front Page, The Guardian, 20 April 2017

Theresa May (one of Trump’s only remaining BFFs, after Putin) hints to the Sun that the UK may be cutting back on its spending commitments on overseas aid spending (current target: 0.7% of GDP on aid)

On the day the British government voted to hold an early general election, Bill Gates, billionaire philanthropist, spoke with The Guardian. He said: “The big aid givers now are the US, Britain, and Germany — those are the three biggest, and if those three back off, a lot of the ambitious things that are going on with malaria, agriculture and reproductive health simply would not get done.”

Gates said “the leadership role taken by the UK could determine whether ambitious efforts to eradicate malaria in Africa were launched. He added: “Malaria has always been the disease we really want to take on, and the UK has always, in terms of research capacity and aid, been a leader. In terms of where the aid ambition gets set, the UK can be a huge leader in driving that malaria eradication, or the world may have to back off and not get started on that.”

In an interview with the Sun, May “gave an evasive answer to the question of whether she would continue to back the 0.7% commitment . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

We Have Just Bombed Syria!

And The New York Times wrote a drippy article which made it seem as if Trump was such a humanitarian for doing so! He did it to stop chemical gas attacks on innocent civilians, you understand.

Since I’m still recovering from the whiplash of a CNN pundit (Zakaria) announcing that Trump appears to be “growing into” his Presidential role, I will dispense with the “self” point of view and go into a list of celebrity interviews that were ticked off by Hadley Freeman in her Style column in The Guardian of 21 March 2017 (I clipped it out; it was so entertaining).

In it, she cites some glaring differences in interview styles between men and women who do celebrity interviews.

Exhibit # 1: Rich Cohen interviews Margot Robbie for Vanity Fair, and puts in “She can be sexy and composed … ” never mind the rest of the sentence. The fact is he put in “sexy” and I don’t know if that’s a thing with male interviewers or what but if I interviewed, say, Tom Hardy, and called him “sexy” everyone would call me a cougar.

Exhibit # 2: Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s interview of Tom Hiddleston for US GQ in which “she teased out his private-school shallowness.” I like! I make a decision to search out this interview. (I’m so hyper today! I already looked up and read the entire interview — all right, I admit, I find Tom Hiddleston attractive! I think it’s okay to say that. He looks grrrreat in a brown suit. Just sayin’.)

Exhibit # 3: Anna Peele’s interview of Miles Teller in US Esquire “in which she unforgettably skewered his pretentiousness.” Another interview I decide I must search out.

Ms. Freeman points out that there “is something vaguely prostitutional about” doing a celebrity interview: “there you are, the journalist/client, demanding this far more beautiful person simulate intimacy with you for an hour.”

Okay, I like this woman.

One big difference between English journalists (i.e. Hadley Freeman) and US journalists is that Ms. Freeman gets commonly asked if she slept with any of her interviewees (I am shocked! So shocked at that question! But I do want to hear Ms. Freeman’s answer. I expect absolute candor!) and her answer is NO.

Other celebrity interviewees listed in the article: Paul Rudd, Idris Elba, Selena Gomez, Alicia Silverstone, Scarlett Johansson.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Mary Beard on Edward Gibbon

Beginning a new book today: SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard

Beard begins by saying, in her Prologue:

  • “. . .  over the almost 250 years since Edward Gibbon wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, his idiosyncratic historical experiment that began the modern study of Roman history in the English-speaking world . . . “

Self is quite tickled by the description of Gibbon as “idiosyncratic.” She just read Gibbon for the first time, here at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. Her biggest quibble with him was that he spent an inordinate amount of time on the spread of Christianity and while some of that history was good — especially the parts about monastic life —  most of it was really broad survey. And surveys are dull.

In contrast, another history she just finished reading, Francis Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe, was amazing. Amazing in every sense: as history, and as narrative.

The Guardian calls SPQR “vastly engaging.” We shall see if it manages to unseat Francis Parkman’s as self’s favorite history book in years.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 16 March 2017

It’s the day before St. Patrick’s Day: YAY!

Also, it is raining.

Here’s what the desk looks like today:

DSCN1114

Busy morning.

Self is preparing to send out a story to a writing contest. It’s hard but, since the contest offers a 1-year subscription in return for a (smaller-than-average) entry fee, she figured it was worth it.

The copy of The Guardian next to her laptop is weeks old. But reading about Spicer et. al. is endlessly entertaining.

The Oxford English Dictionary word of the day is aliasing (noun): the misidentification of a signal frequency, introducing distortion or error.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Guardian’s Top 50 (U.S. Released) Films of 2016 — Up to No. 9

They have a separate list for UK films, and right now self doesn’t have time to compare the two. So here are the Guardian’s Top 50 U.S. Released Films of 2016 (Up to No. 9, “The Handmaiden.” The entire list gets posted on Dec. 16).

Self is posting the list in reverse order: meaning, #50 first.

She put asterisks next to the movies she’s seen.

She walked out of “Nocturnal Animals.” She could probably have watched Armie Hammer’s turn as an ultra-detached husband, forever. But the violence, especially in those Texas scenes, was too much, even for self’s normally iron-clad stomach. Not only was it too much, it was predictable. From the moment the bored daughter gives a car of yahoos the finger, she knew what was going to happen. First of all, the father (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) reminded her of a type. The middle-class clueless type. Which impression was only reinforced with every passing second of the unfolding scene.

As for “Fantastic Beasts” — Eddie Redmayne seemed to be channeling Stephen Hawking, but this time with the use of all limbs. Sorry. There was no charisma. Which self cannot believe she just said. About Eddie Redmayne. Who is usually so damn cute.

There are several documentaries in the below list. Which self will have to hunt up on Netflix.

  • Deepwater Horizon
  • The Neon Demon
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane *
  • Fences
  • The Clan
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Eagle Huntress
  • Hail, Caesar!
  • Wiener Dog
  • The Witch
  • I, Daniel Blake
  • High-Rise
  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  • Cemetery of Splendour
  • From Afar
  • Everybody Wants Some!
  • The Light Between Oceans
  • Embrace of Serpent
  • Zootopia
  • Sing Street
  • Chronic
  • The Childhood of a Leader
  • Dheepan
  • Green Room
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them*
  • Tale of Tales
  • Deadpool*
  • Things To Come
  • 20th Century Women
  • American Honey
  • Doctor Strange*
  • Hell Or High Water*
  • The Lobster*
  • Paterson
  • Our Little Sister
  • The Club
  • Loving
  • Nocturnal Animals*
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Sausage Party
  • Weiner
  • The Handmaiden

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lynn Barber for The Guardian: Self Dies

Paul Theroux, 19 February 2000:

. . .  he didn’t look remotely like the Paul Theroux I met 15 years ago at a dinner party in London. That Theroux was urbane and elegant — this one is wearing shorts and has a string of dolphins tattooed around his ankle. Oh, please! You cannot be a serious writer and have dolphins tattooed around your ankle — I am sorry, it would take too long to explain, but you just can’t.

She is hilarious. Self first made her acquaintance (via The Irish Times) at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre (or TGC), spring 2014. She was instantly smitten.

Then forgot about her. Until just now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Guardian: 75 Films to Watch in 2016

Self enjoys reading The Guardian. In particular, their film blog.

Yesterday, she stumbled across a piece called: 75 movies to look forward to in 2016.

75??? Only The Guardian would have the temerity to post such a mind-boggling list of 2016 movies.

Well, self will attempt to take a gander.

Here are her conclusions, after one read-through:

  • Keanu Reeves is back! He’s in at least three 2016 movies.
  • Michael Fassbender is in everything. Michael Shannon is in everything. Ryan Gosling is in at least two upcoming.
  • Matt Damon is back as Bourne (triple somersault YAY!) and Paul Greengrass is directing (Wowowowowowow!!!)
  • Charlie Hunnam Is. In. A. Movie (Oh God. It’s been too long)
  • Casey Affleck is in a movie. Self likes Casey Affleck. More than she likes his brother.
  • They’re making a film of Shusako Endo’s Silence! They’re making a film of Shusako Endo’s Silence! And it’s starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver. Oh God.
  • Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool (And this one actually seems like it might work)
  • Jennifer Lawrence is mentioned as getting $20 million for the space movie she’s in with Chris Pratt. BTW, people? She’s worth every penny.
  • They’re making a movie (Neon Demon) about “beauty-obsessed women in L.A.” and self loves the cast: Keanu Reeves, Elle Fanning, and Christina Hendricks.
  • Star Wars spin-off Rogue One: Another Brit (Felicity Jones) stars.
  • Anthropoid, about the assassination of one of World War II’s most brutal concentration camp commanders: Reinhard Heydrich. This one stars Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy. These are two gorgeous men, dear blog readers. If self weren’t already cheering about the plot, she’d be cheering at the prospect of seeing these men’s gorgeous cheekbones in close-up on the big screen.

BTW, saw Joy and enjoyed it. It seemed rather muted for a David O. Russell film, especially one starring his muse Jennifer Lawrence. Self thinks Amy Adams could have handled that part. But Jennifer is truly a force. Self refuses to complain too much about a film that has her in it.

Stay tuned.

The Guardian’s Review of Mockingjay 2

Self is writing this, her third post of Saturday, even though she swore she’d go out and walk the streets of Manhattan! On this unusually temperate December day!

She wants to see “Joy,” David O. Russell’s new movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Self loves J-Law.

Anything with J-Law in it, self will watch.

But she just can’t stand The Guardian review because it is all J-Law. There is not one mention of J-Hutch. And Peeta, his character, self’s thought all along, is the real reason The Hunger Games is such an enthralling story.

Sure, Katniss Everdeen is really kick-ass. Kick-ass like no other. Her hunting? Her bow and arrow? Not to mention her Mockingjay outfits? Epic.

But the Katniss Everdeen story wouldn’t be anything without the character of Peeta. The guy makes us believe she has a heart. He’s in love with her from afar, it’s the greatest stroke of luck (for her, not really for him) that he gets reaped along with her, he gets to play a fake romance with her that really screws up his brain, gets hijacked, then keeps trying to kill her.

In short, Peeta is a mess.

The films gave very short shrift to his character. Which was a mistake. Because when the end came, when Katniss gets to have him, there is just no ooomf.

Self doesn’t know if Lionsgate had no faith in Josh Hutcherson as an actor. Or if they just wanted to cash in on the J-Law phenomenon. But the films would have worked better if they’d given Peeta his due. Seriously.

That said, she really loves the way Mockingjay 2 ended: not because of the meadow scene (In this scene, J-Law looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal! Not a criticism, just saying), but because of the scenes with Peeta and Katniss together in her house: Peeta reading aloud Annie’s letter in the kitchen (And J-Hutch just looks so good here), the two watching it rain. Katniss joining Peeta at night in the guest room. Because: normal is good! Normal is where Katniss needs to be! The daily routines — and not her Messianic mission — save her.

Suzanne Collins wrote this ending because she knew she needed to show Katniss whole. The selflessness of the warrior woman needed to give way to her personal satisfaction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

« Older entries

Ohm Sweet Ohm

Adventures in life from the Sunshine State to the Golden Gate

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Asian Cultural Experience

Preserving the history and legacy of Salinas Chinatown

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

litadoolan

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

the contemporary small press

A site for small presses, writers, poets & readers

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

A crazy quilt of poems, stories, and humor