kindkit: Man sitting on top of a huge tower of books, reading. (Fandomless--book tower)
Being able to stream Netflix on my phone is leading to me watching a lot more (old) TV than I used to. After I finished Leverage, I tried a couple of comedies: Master of None, which I noped out on after about two minutes (explicit het sex plus pregnancy talk, nope nope nope nope), and Bordertown, an animated show about two families on the US-Mexico border. It's made by Seth McFarlane, so I should have known better--I lasted about ten minutes.

Several more TV shows under the cut )

When not staring at the extremely small screen, I've read Charles Stross's latest Laundry Files books, The Delirium Brief. The books have been getting grimmer for some time now, and this one most of all. A good book, but not recommended if you're already in despair about the state of the world.

I also read the new Rivers of London novella The Furthest Station, which is enjoyable as a side story to the main narrative. As usual, there is not enough Thomas Nightingale. I suspect that all those fans who interpret Nightingale as gay (I'm one of them, and I know Aaronovitch is aware of them because reasons) have freaked Aaronovitch out and we're never going to get another tender emotional moment between Thomas and Peter. Indeed, we seem to get less Nightingale with each successive book. *is sad*

Coming up, I want to watch a bunch of the Gay Britannia programming from the BBC. There are two shows about men falling in love during World War II! Oh, BBC, it's like you read my letter to Santa. I don't know yet if either show is any good, but I'm hoping.

some TV

Jul. 14th, 2017 09:31 pm
kindkit: Finch and Reese sitting on a bench together (POI: Finch and Reese on the bench)
I finally got around to watching the final season of Person of Interest.

A few thoughts under the cut )

After POI I was in the mood for something a bit lighter, so I've been watching Leverage and enjoying it quite a lot. Sometimes the caper plots wear a bit thin (and I love capers and heists), but I adore the characters and the team dynamics. I even, to my surprise, really like the Hardison/Parker relationship, which seems to be growing organically rather than being forced on us, and which anyway isn't at all like a typical male/female screen romance. In contrast I deeply don't like Sophie/Nate, which is much more conventional and which does feel forced.

I must, however, note with disapproval that I'm now halfway through S4 and there hasn't been a single queer character. Really, show? Really, show that is mostly quite progressive about everything else? Really?
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
1) Something you've cooked recently: This has been the week of the Great Chain of Leftovers. Last Sunday I made a meatloaf, which I ate in sandwiches and so on throughout the week. But on Friday there was still a pretty big hunk of it left and it needed to be used right away. That, plus my strong and unseasonable craving for pasta e fagiole (inspired by a TV commercial, of all things) led to an untraditional, even Frankenstein-ish but tasty hybrid dish.

What I did )

Yesterday, finding myself in possession of a lot of nectarines and raspberries (both were on sale cheap), I made Peach Melba Squares, substituting 4 small nectarines for the peaches. I also used a lot more raspberries than called for, because I found a few moldy ones in the container and thought I'd better use up all the rest immediately. The result was that the cake is . . . let's call it very moist, shall we? I made a couple of other small changes: I let the melted butter brown a bit, because I'd seen a recipe for a brown butter nectarine cake and I thought the nuttiness of the brown butter would enhance the almonds. And I sprinkled a little bit of extra ground almonds over the top because I didn't have flaked almonds. Plus I didn't add the icing sugar at the end, because I found the cake sweet enough already. It is a very tasty cake, if perhaps a bit too buttery for me. The slightly tart fruit keeps it from being too cloying.

Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: No concrete plans. I'm going to a friend's house on Tuesday for a potluck-and-Buffy-watch, so I need to think of something to bring. I've got some cooked chickpeas in the freezer so I might do some homemade hummus with pita bread, plus a melon salad. Bringing hummus is lazy, maybe, but I feel like its being homemade should let me off the hook? Plus, it's been hot and everyone will probably want salad-y things. Will think about it some more, anyway.

Something I vaguely intend to cook someday: It's been so hot--yesterday the temp topped out at 91F/32.7C--that I'm losing the urge to cook even summery things. I think the future holds a lot of salads--grain salads and cooked vegetable salads as well as the raw kind--and pasta, with the occasional lazy lapse into hot dogs or boxed macaroni and cheese.

2) I watched all three series of Shetland over the last week and a half. I wouldn't call it great TV, but I liked the characters a lot and the scenery-porn was excellent (though I was sad to find out that a lot of the series is filmed on mainland Scotland rather than on the Shetland islands). The mystery plots were ho-hum, but at least not full of sickening, "shocking" details like some modern mysteries. There was a canonical queer relationship for a recurring character, plus some unexpected slashiness for the male protagonist. And a plot development in S3 that at first seemed gratuitous and fail-y turned out to be handled well and meaningfully.

Apparently there's going to be an S4, and I'm looking forward to it. I've started reading one of the books the series is based on, but so far I like the TV show better.

3) Last night, having finished Shetland and being in the mood for some light relief, I looked for Netflix movies with Alan Rickman and found The Gambit, a caper comedy with Alan Rickman and Colin Firth and Tom Courtenay, written and directed by the Coen Brothers. Got to be a great movie, right? Alas, it was so terrible that after about 20 minutes I gave up. The jokes were dumb, hackneyed, and often imbued with stereotypes (repressed Brits, freewheeling American) and the actors looked painfully aware that they were in a bad movie. I looked up some reviews and found a tendency to blame the awfulness on Cameron Diaz, playing the above-mentioned freewheeling American, but she was no worse than anything else in the movie (though unlike the other actors, she didn't seem embarrassed so it was impossible to feel sorry for her).
kindkit: Two naked men having sex in the grass (Fandomless: Men in a field)
I just watched American Gods 1x03, and I would like to report that not spoilery for anything plot related )
kindkit: Picture of the TARDIS, captioned "This funny little box that carries me away . . ." (Doctor Who--TARDIS)
Things I've been watching:

That Mitchell and Webb Look. I've been binge-watching this for a couple of days now. I'm enjoying it a lot even though I find it (usually) more wry than laugh-out-loud funny. Sometimes it's actively unfunny, as in the sketch where a man goes into a little shop ostensibly to buy food, ends up buying two cans of cheap strong beer instead, and it's clear that this is a routine he goes through every day as he desperately, hopelessly tries to cover up his alcoholism. I was astonished to hear the audience laughing at it (or was it a laugh track?). Apparently the last sketch from the very last episode was the (in)famous old Sherlock Holmes, which makes everyone cry; somehow I'm not surprised that Mitchell and Webb chose to end the show that way.

Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain's most recent show, which is less about extreme food adventures than Bourdain's previous work and focuses to a surprising extent on history, culture, and politics. I was loving it, and then we got to the episode about New Mexico, where I live. I found it oversimplified, almost stereotypical, and much too filtered through Bourdain's romantic obsession with cowboys and the west (and guns--there was a long segment of Bourdain with gun enthusiasts that I skipped most of because it made me so furious). So now I wonder if the whole show is like that and I just didn't notice because of my own ignorance; other episodes, especially those set in troubled parts of the world, did seem a lot more serious and balanced to me, though.

Weeks ago I started watching Captain America: Civil War on Netflix and got so bored about half an hour in that I still haven't finished it. I guess I'll watch the rest eventually, but the whole premise is so contrived that it's hard to care. But part of the problem could be me: I often have a hard time settling in to movies, even though I can watch episode after episode of a TV series.

Things I've been reading:

Right now I'm about halfway through Matter, one of Iain M. Banks's Culture novels. I'm enjoying it all right, but I don't understand why so many people say these books are the best thing ever. The ones I've read have all been a bit same-y, and so the worldbuilding that was initially so impressive ceases to impress. I do give Banks some points for naming a ship Eight Rounds Rapid, though.

Before that I read Dan Chaon's new mystery/thriller Ill Will, which, again, I liked well enough, but which also seemed like another example of that phenomenon where a "literary" novelist writes a genre book and is wildly overpraised for things that are, in fact, pretty typical of the genre. Chaon did throw in a few self-consciously literary touches, but I don't think they were necessary or even beneficial to the story. And plotwise, I still can't decide potential plot spoilers )

A while back I read Kai Ashante Wilson's Sorcerer of the Wildeeps but forgot to post about it. It's a little bit slight and short, story-wise (it's a novella, really, not a full novel) but it's fantastically well-written; I especially admire how Wilson melds African American Vernacular English and a high fantasy setting in a way that is first surprising and then just absolutely, seamlessly right. The worldbuilding is tantalizing, too, and I hope Wilson writes more in this universe. And did I mention that the main characters are queer men?

Other stuff: I have a 24-day streak on Duolingo in both German, which I'm just beginning, and French, which I studied for years and then neglected for years. Has anyone else noticed that some of the Duolingo example sentences are rather . . . dystopian? I keep getting ones like "Don't believe that soldier!" and "It's better to avoid that zone." Or, today, "A little robot came and saved them," which was nice.

A request: Now that I've joined the 21st century and have Netflix streaming and Spotify, I'd love recs for movies, TV shows, and especially music.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I spent yesterday and this afternoon binge-watching S1 of The Good Place. It's funny and serious and generally amazing, and you should watch it! It tells the story of Eleanor, who after her sudden death finds that she's one of a tiny number of humans who have been accepted into The Good Place, where she'll spend eternity in bliss with her soulmate. And that's all I'm going to tell you, because it's best to watch the show as unspoiled as possible.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I've watched about half of the first episode of The Man in the High Castle. Have any of you seen the series? Is it worth continuing? So far the show hasn't managed to make me care about the US being ruled by fascists, much less about its deeply boring straight white protagonists. But that could just be a case of the first episode being made as insipid as possible in order, in the minds of showrunners, to appeal to a broad audience.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I watched Broadchurch S2 and thought it was good in many ways, but definitely not up to the standards of S1.

A few thoughts, including massive spoilers for the endings of both series )


Feb. 2nd, 2017 01:06 pm
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I just finished watching the last episode of S1 of Broadchurch.

Floods of tears. What a fantastic series. Okay, dubious police procedures, but emotionally just about perfect.

Is S2 also good, or does it ruin the exquisitely crafted story that is S1 by trying to continue it?
kindkit: Hot dog walking hand in hand with mustard but thinking of ketchup. (Fandomless: Hot dog/ketchup OTP)
1) I had a pretty good Thanksgiving, in the sense of having a day off and eating lots of chicken and mashed potatoes.

2) I survived Black Friday and then had Saturday and today off, making up for last weekend's non-weekend. I had to come out of my usual workplace hidey-hole for a few hours on Friday to help customers, but it wasn't too bad. There was a weird moment about halfway through the day of realizing that, while we at the store have been preparing for Black Friday for weeks, this is actually the beginning of the Christmas retail season and not the end. There's still a month of escalating madness to go.

Baking, books, TV and Age of Ultron under the cut )
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
I haven't been doing much in the kitchen, because with all the job stuff going on, I gave myself permission to not cook for a while unless I feel like it.

This past weekend I did end up making some choux buns. The original plan was for eclairs, but I decided I didn't want to buy chocolate (for the topping) because it was so hot, and it turned out that the pastry-bag substitute everyone says works great (snipping the end off of a zip-top plastic bag) does not work great. So I ended up with a certain amount of wasted choux paste, and some buns. They were rather nice when filled with cinnamon horchata ice cream and drizzled with dulce de leche. The ice cream was storebought; I sort of made the dulce de leche, if it counts as "making" something when what you do is empty a tin of sweetened condensed milk into a pan and stick it in the oven, in a water bath, for an hour and a half. Anyway, regardless of its homemade status, it's tasty.

Also last weekend I made a pizza using a batch of dough I'd made a while back and frozen. I topped it with roasted cherry tomatoes, some slivers of salami, and mozzarella.

The weekend before that I baked scones from Paul Hollywood's recipe, which were quite good except that I overbrowned the bottoms of the first batch. I still have some in the freezer, which is the good thing about baking as a single person.

Other than that I've been living on pasta and more junk food than I really wanted. The eventual plan for the work/cooking balance is to cook big batches of things on weekends. But the sort of foods that take well to this method are mostly stewy, and it's been too damn hot here. Not super hot (today it got to 86 F or 30 C), but hot enough that I don't want to make stew. It's the end of September, why can't the weather be autumnal?

In non-food related amusements, I've been watching the Danish police drama Rejseholdet, which aired in Britain some years back as Unit One. I recommend it, with a couple of caveats, if you like police procedurals: it has good writing (especially the dialogue and character stuff, not always the plots so much); interesting characters including a three-dimensional female lead with agency and nuance; excellent acting from everyone, including Mads Mikkelsen, later of Hannibal fame in the Anglophone world; and two highly slashable relationships, one between squad leader Ingrid Dahl and her friend and colleague Gaby, the other between Allan Fischer (Mikkelsen's character) and his friend and colleague Thomas LaCour, played by Lars Brygmann, a fine actor who is also exactly my type.

There are some less good points: it's dated in its attitudes towards queer people and towards certain gender-related issues (for example there's an incident of domestic violence that's not well addressed); less seriously, the characters have too much soap-opera style personal drama for my taste. But overall I like it a lot so far--I'm partway through series 3--and will almost certainly request it for Yuletide.

It's available to stream from Amazon in the US, widely available in Britain I believe, and findable around the internet.
kindkit: The Second Doctor and Jamie clutch each other in panic; captioned "oh noes" (Doctor Who: Two/Jamie oh noes)
My allergy problem segued into a sinus infection problem, leading to several unpleasant days on which my entire face hurt, but I'm better now and feeling mostly human again.

Today I was reminded that while the Granada Sherlock Holmes series was mostly excellent, towards the end it went off the rails. I checked out "The Eligible Bachelor" from the library. I'd never seen it before, and ye gods was it terrible. About a third of the storyline was based on two ACD stories, the rest was a lot of overheated Victorian melodrama, terrible special effects, and scenery-chewing. Even Jeremy Brett went a bit over the top; only Edward Hardwicke kept his dignity and grace as Watson, but unfortunately he wasn't in the story much.

In another instance of bad media choices, I also checked out The Explorers: A Story of Fearless Outcasts, Blundering Geniuses, and Impossible Success from the library. I was in a hurry and didn't look closely at it; I just saw from the blurb that it was about the Burton and Speke expeditions to find the source of the Nile and thought it would be interesting. It turned out not to really even be about the expeditions, apart from a few scattered pages. Mostly it's about seven personality traits supposedly associated with explorers, and how they can help the reader succeed in their own life. So, scads of self-helpish generalities and dubious neuroscience. Also, it turns out the author is a frequent ghostwriter co-writer for right-wing television pundit Bill O'Reilly, whom he enthuses about in the author's notes.

I only skimmed but still managed to be irritated, especially by author Martin Dugard mentioning Richard Hillary as an example of the brave, persevering explorer type. Hillary, Dugard writes, was a pilot "shot down and killed during World War II." Now, this is technically true, but not the way it sounds. First Hillary was shot down and seriously burned. After surgeries, rehabilitation and a lot of badgering of doctors and commanding officers, he managed to get himself cleared for flight retraining even though his hands were stiff from scar tissue. During training he crashed his plane, killing himself and his radio operator. Hillary, when his story is told honestly and not fudged, doesn't strike me as an admirable example of ceaselessly striving for your dreams, but rather an example of the value of knowing when to quit.

I've made at least one not-mistaken media choice by starting to read Chaz Brenchley's Outremer series, which is set in a fantasy version of the crusader settlements in the middle east, aka Outremer. It's a bit grimdark, and given how important religion is supposed to be, the religious issues aren't clearly defined, but it's a good story so far and I like that there are queer characters who are central and have plots roles well beyond their queerness. I should note that the books aren't really standalones; they need to be read in order and so far they tend to end abruptly.

So how are you all? I miss you!
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
Trying to catch up on the talk meme a bit while I have connectivity.

[ profile] miss_morland asked what my favorite animal was and why.

I know this a tediously predictable answer from a single person of a certain age, but . . . I really like cats. The average cat is the right degree of affectionate for someone like me. They're not irritatingly dependent the way dogs are, and they're also not potentially aggressive and scary the way dogs are. Nor are they unsociable and other the way a gerbil or a fish is. Of course there are exceptions; my ex-housemate had a cat that fixated on me with terrifying devotion and used to follow me around the apartment, getting underfoot as often as possible. But generally cats aren't overwhelming. They come and sit on your lap for a bit and then they go away again about their business. I like that in a creature. (You can all see why I have never wanted children, right?)

One of these days I want to get a kitty of my very own, but I need to be much more financially stable first.

An anonymous person asked what I like about classic British television.

I think that British television from what I unashamedly think of as the Golden Age (late sixties through early eighties) was objectively better written and better acted. I can make a guess as to why that's the case: the BBC was less commercialized then and even commercial television often strove to do at least some "quality" programming, so the writing of dramas wasn't dumbed down to attract as broad an audience as possible. Less commercialization also meant actors weren't cast primarily for being young and hot; looks still certainly played a role, but less of one than now, I think, and what counted as being acceptably attractive for television was a lot broader. This allowed acting ability to be a factor as well.

Other more subjective considerations also make classic British TV more to my taste than modern TV. For one, storytelling was allowed to take its time; even shows like Doctor Who weren't required to be all action every second, and Who in particular used a serial format that meant stories developed over, typically, four to six 25-minute episodes rather than being shoehorned into 45 minutes to an hour at most. The slower pace (for all shows, not just Who) meant there was room for interesting little details and charming moments that didn't necessarily advance the main plot! Guest characters got actual development instead of being drawn in the broadest possible terms! A modern show would never allow time to be taken up by scenes of, say, two characters competing in a warplay game (which happened in Callan), a one-off character worrying about his mother (Colditz), or some minor baddies complaining about their working conditions (Blake's 7). But those scenes are marvellous and I love them!

Another reason is that classic shows seemed to feel less pressure to include a heterosexual love story as a main plot thread, nor to demonstrate the heterosexuality of every single character. As I've said elsewhere on this topic, the reasons for this often aren't good--they can include a lack of interest in female characters (though this was by no means universally the case) and a homophobic assumption that no admirable character could possibly be queer even if their heterosexuality isn't demonstrated--but the effect for me can be liberating. I like not having to struggle against a huge weight of canonical heterosexuality in order to make a space to breathe, or at least to interpret queerly. Of course, modern shows are more likely to have canonical queerness, but there are lots of exceptions. Callan had three or four canonically gay men, all presented with extraordinary empathy given the culture of the time, while there are plenty of modern shows with no queer characters at all and every avenue of queer interpretation deliberately blocked. Plus, I'll usually take a show where an important main character or two can be seen as queer over one where there is canonical queerness, but only among minor or non-recurring characters.

One of the things I loved about this year's first series of Grantchester is that in tone, aesthetic, and to some degree structure it was very like a classic drama, but also had a canonically gay character in the main cast. A rare instance of the best of both worlds.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
1) Over the past couple of weeks, my job has gone from "ha ha, try to get enough hours to live on, sucker!" to "OMG SO MUCH WORK." This is because Christmas is, in retail-land, upon us. I'm glad for the hours but my feet hurt.

2) On my days off I made bagels! This is thanks to [personal profile] wisdomeagle, who directed me to this recipe. If I'd known how easy bagels were I'd have tried it ages ago! I used the brown sugar substitution for the malt syrupt, which I don't have, and made half plain bagels and half sesame bagels. They freeze pretty well, though they should probably either be toasted or reheated in an oven after thawing.

I also cooked braised pork ribs and kimchi, modifying the recipe here and there based on what I had on hand. I used a regular bonito dashi rather than anchovy dashi, regular kimchi that had been around for a bit in my fridge rather than the specially packaged "old kimchi," cayenne pepper instead of the Korean chili flakes (I used a little less than a full tablesoon), and omitted the jalapeno and green onion at the end. I'd have liked to include the green onion but I was out; I think the dish was quite spicy enough without the jalapeno. Though some googling tells me that the cayenne I used is much hotter than Korean chile flakes, so if you're using the right chiles, adding the jalapeno is probably fine. Anyway, despite the substitutions it was very nice.

3) Yuletide! I'm pleased with my assignment and have actually started writing. Hoping to avoid last-minute panics this year.

4) What I've heard about the most recent Doctor Who episode makes me glad I quit watching again. I think I probably won't give the show another try until Moffat is gone, because vague spoilers )

5) In happier fandom news, the new BBC show Grantchester is pretty enjoyable! And has canon queerness. The mystery plots are meh but it's worth it for the characters, in my opinion. Also the lead actor is awfully pretty, if that sort of thing appeals to you.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I give you my thoughts while watching episode 4 (in stream-of-consciousness form) under the cut:

click )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
Having been told by many people that I'd like it, I've finally surrendered and watched the first two episodes of Band of Brothers, the HBO series about a paratroop company during the Second World War.

So far it's not doing much for me. Explanation and question under the cut )
kindkit: Medieval image of a mapmaker constructing a globe (Fandomless: Mapmaker)
In news from the desert southwest of the US, it has been snowing intermittently all day. The snow melts as soon as it hits the ground, but it's still a bit of a shock in the middle of May. And tomorrow's supposed to be even colder.

Some folks were curious about things I included in the movie/tv meme I posted the other day, so, some explanations.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp made my list partly to represent the whole genre of WWII films, because the world wars have been a consuming interest of mine for several years now, and at least a vague interest ever since I was a teenager. Colonel Blimp also has a number of qualities that made me pick it out from the rest. To start with, it's simply a very good film in all respects. And because it was made during the war, it lacks the mythologizing and sentimentalizing that crop up in many (not all) WWII films made in the 1950s and 1960s. It has a strong m/m homoerotic element (always a plus for me), but it also has interesting female characters with agency and personality--which is probably another benefit of its being made during the war rather than during the postwar backlash. I've written more about the film here if anyone's curious.

An anon asked whether I think Brideshead Revisited (the miniseries, not the dreadful film from a few years ago) is worth rewatching. I can only say "I don't know." I haven't rewatched it for years, and I'm not sure if I could stand to rewatch the whole thing because I want to stop while Charles and Sebastian are happy and Charles is less of a complete git than he later becomes. But Brideshead was so formative for me that I had to put it on the list. When I was a young teenager in rural Minnesota, the only television station we reliably received was a PBS affiliate, and the things I watched then--Brideshead, Monty Python, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--marked me for life. They were a glimpse into another world, but they also resonated for me in a way that American TV never had (this was the era of Dallas, the Dukes of Hazzard, and endless reruns of Hogan's Heroes and the Andy Griffith show in afternoon syndication). In particular, Brideshead was the first really homoerotic thing I'd ever seen onscreen; I'd already developed a reluctant taste for m/m homoeroticism, which I fed on fantasies and any hints or implications I could find in any media, but in Brideshead it was all right out in the open, and with the emotions, at least, lushly detailed too. Brideshead gave me a fondness for men walking arm in arm, pairs of men punting on lovely English rivers, men wading barefoot with their trousers rolled up, and men wearing white flannel. Plus the show boosted my developing Anglophilia, so I think it explains a lot about me.

As for Hot Fuzz--I didn't like it the first time I saw it. But I couldn't resist Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's chemistry for long. I guess it's on the list as "what every buddy movie should be but seldom is"?

Finally, I listed White Christmas partly because I really love Christmas, and partly because I really really love Danny Kaye. I still haven't figured out how he managed to have a stage person that was that gay and still be beloved in 1940s and 1950s America, but he did. (And yes, I am convinced by the biographical claims that Kaye himself was gay or bi. Not sure whether I believe he was really having an affair with Laurence Olivier, but I badly want to believe it.) Anyway, in White Christmas Kaye and Bing Crosby have astonishing chemistry as showbiz partners and best friends, and the het romance for Kaye's character is so blatantly tacked on that I find it ignorable. Plus, there's a bit with Crosby and Kaye sort of in drag. Yes, really.


kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)

August 2017

67 8910 1112

Most Popular Tags


RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 20th, 2017 09:47 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios