kindkit: 'A man in WWII-era military uniform drinks tea in front of a van painted with "The Soldiers' Drink: Tea" (Fandomless: Soldiers drink tea)
1) Stuff I've been watching:

Brooklyn 99, which I started marathoning a couple of weeks ago and am now all caught up on. I was a little dubious about the first few episodes because Jake was such an asshole, but he kept getting his comeuppance for being an asshole, which was encouraging. And then he became much less of an asshole, and all the other characters are pretty damn awesome, and Andre Braugher and Marc Evan Jackson are husbands. I like it a lot.

Broadchurch S3. I finally got up the nerve to watch this. It's much better (by which I mostly mean less frustratingly implausible and contrived) than S2 and not as wrenching as S1, though still plenty grim.Somewhat spoilery things under the cut )

It was interesting to see two performers I strongly associate with comedy--Lenny Henry and Charlie Higson (formerly of The Fast Show)--take on dramatic roles and do very well in them. I adore Charlie Higson in particular and now need to look up what else he's been in. And, in tribute to my facial-recognition ineptitude (I recognized both Henry and Higson by their voices) I will acknowledge that for the first two episodes, until I looked it up, I thought Trish was being played by Fiona Shaw. Julie Hesmondhalgh, who actually plays the role, is excellent.

Paddington 2, which is even funnier and lovelier than the first one, and which focused on the value and power of community in a way I found pleasing and timely. Hugh Grant nearly steals the show as a sharp parody of himself.

2) Stuff I've been reading:

Point of Sighs, by Melissa Scott. I had not known this was coming out, so it was a wonderful surprise. Like the previous Fairs Point, it integrated character development with plot really well, but in this one the plot involves tea and underwater monsters instead of dog racing, so it was much more my jam. My only quibbles were Spoilers )

A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers. I liked A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet well enough, but this one, not a sequel but set in the same universe and featuring a few characters from the first book, is better. It's still got too much of its plot stuffed into the last 40 pages, but this time there's some build-up, and more importantly, the characters are sympathetic, well-intentioned, decent people who still have conflicts with each other. Small Angry Planet oversold everyone's pure nobility a bit for my taste; Common Orbit feels more real and more complex.

The teaser chapter to KJ Charles's Henchmen of Zenda, which will be released on May 15th. I can't wait!

3) Stuff I've been cooking:

Strawberry-rhubarb pie. I more or less followed this recipe, but with a cream-cheese pastry crust (mostly because I didn't have enough butter) and with a few other small adjustments, namely a little less sugar, omitting the butter in the filling, and using a few drops of orange extract in place of the orange juice. Also, my strawberries had been macerating in a bit of Cointreau and sugar overnight, because I didn't initially intend to turn them into pie. And the strawberries were halved or in thick slices instead of chopped. It turned out delicious, although more watery than I was expecting from a recipe that promises you it absolutely will not be watery.

I was going to post pictures but the DW posting interface is making it waaaaay too much of a hassle.

I have also cooked a pork and kimchi stew (several days ago, before it turned unpleasantly warm here), made a batch of pesto, and made a "kedgeree risotto" loosely based on Nigella Lawson's recipe. I can almost see kedgeree purists cringing, but the one time I made a kedgeree the proper way, I found it dry and dull and not at all enjoyable. The lovely creaminess of a risotto-style preparation is much closer to what I imagined kedgeree to be when I'd only enviously read about it. Anyway I considerably adulterated even Lawson's "inauthentic" version, using smoked salmon instead of smoked white fish, which is hard to find in the US, adding some shrimp (plus simmering their shells with the broth to add flavor), using spiced ghee and a good dollop of Penzey's curry powder, adding some peas, and even finishing with (gasp!) a little cream. Lawson calls for quail eggs, which are both hard to get and, to my mind, ridiculous, so I topped the rice with a plain hard-boiled egg. It was yummy and I regret nothing.

Oh, and because I got some more rhubarb very cheap from work. I have made a rhubarb syrup which, added to plain or sparkling water, will make a delicious cool drink in the style of a Persian sharbat. The recipe is from A Taste of Persia by Naomi Duguid, a fascinating cookbook that I got for just a couple of dollars as an ebook from the Evil Online Commercial Empire. (Take 1.5 lb of rhubarb, cut into half-inch slices. Put in a pan along with a scant 2 c sugar and 1 c water. Bring to a boil, then simmer strongly for 20 minutes. Strain out the rhubarb, add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to the rhubarb juice and return the juice to the pan. Simmer another 15 minutes until thickened a bit. You should have about 2 cups syrup. I strained my syrup through cheesecloth because it was a little cloudy. At this point you can add a dash of rose water; I didn't, because I didn't have any, but I did add a little orange extract along with the lemon juice. Put the syrup in a jar and refrigerate up to 3 months. Dilute with 1 part syrup to 3 parts water to use. The strained-out rhubarb pulp is tasty and can be eaten by itself, as a topping for yogurt or ice cream, etc.)

I have been writing this post for about a thousand years and it's getting very long, so that's all for now.

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

1) Stuff I've watched

Altered Carbon: The first episode only, because I wasn't that impressed. It looks nice, but the plot is just a bunch of not-very-novel SF tropes strung together, and the characters all seemed flat and uninteresting. I liked the AI hotel better than any of the people, but alas, we will probably see no more of him/it. The male lead is quite physically attractive and had slashy chemistry with James Purefoy's character, but it wasn't enough to keep me watching.

Queer Eye: The new iteration, just released on Netflix. I've never seen more than a few episodes of the old series, but I liked the new one enormously. It's fun, but it's not just fun. Especially in the first four episodes, there's a compelling subtext about toxic masculinity--not the virulent kind that encourages male violence, but the quieter kind that gets men to close in on themselves, trapping them in loneliness because feeling any emotion or reaching out for connections is dangerously feminine. And it's not every makeover show that gives us a black gay man and a white, straight, Trump-supporting cop having a conversation about police violence against black people. Plus, it feels very much like it was made for a queer audience rather than to explain/justify queer people to straight people. All that plus useful (to me) clothing tips = win!

Planet Earth II: Gorgeous, interesting, and not so heavy on environmental gloom as to make me miserable.

Blue Planet II: As you can see, I've been in a mood for nature documentaries. I've only just started this.

Strictly Ballroom: I know it's a cult classic, but I felt pretty meh about it. For one thing, I wanted more dancing and less romance. On the whole, I would rather have watched a movie about Fran's father and grandmother, who were more interesting than anybody else onscreen.

Paddington: Yes, the animated children's movie. It was a lot of fun, surprisingly sophisticated when it wasn't deliberately juvenile, and--perhaps because it's English rather than American--fairly unconventional and not too treacly in its take on family.

Think Tank: New Australian game show hosted by Paul McDermott. A bit too slow-paced; all questions are read out twice and panelists are asked to explain their reasoning for every single damn answer. But it has Paul McDermott. And because there are no prizes except a trophy, there's a friendly feeling I enjoy.

2) Stuff I've read

Not much (well, considerably more if you count reading news on my phone), because my e-book reader came over all brick and the local library system is underfunded as hell. I did read and enjoy The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters, which I bought from the Evil Online Retail Empire discounted to $1.99. The premise is that the world is doomed due to an oncoming asteroid, and all kinds of things are falling apart as people quit their jobs or commit suicide. But the protagonist, a small-town New England cop, decides that one suicide doesn't look quite right and proceeds to investigate. The worldbuilding is really strong and the characterization's good too. I especially liked the exploration/subversion of certain common end-of-the-world tropes. The book has two sequels that I haven't read yet, and I almost don't want to, because the first one ends in a way that feels like a real and proper ending.

3) Stuff I've cooked

Red peppers stuffed with leftover cornbread (tasted good but the texture was monotonous), potato soup with ham, red beans and rice. I roasted a chicken a couple of weeks ago and then made chicken stock with the bones. Currently I've got a pot of white beans simmering in the slow cooker along with some onion, celery, carrot, a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, and bits of not-authentic-but-cheap "prosciutto". Later I will add beet greens, radish tops, and some arugula that needs using. I haven't been in the mood for elaborate cooking, which is just as well because I don't have the budget for it. Fortunately I am a food hoarder a believer in a well-stock pantry, and I have lots of beans and pasta and cornmeal and frozen leftover chicken and frozen leftover ham and etc. etc. to use.

kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory tonight, because I adore Gene Wilder.

What a peculiar movie. I can't imagine anything like it being made today. Was the recent-ish remake awful? I'll bet it was. I'll bet they started by turning Charlie from a sweet gentle boy into a rebel with an attitude.

Anyway, I kept feeling like behind the random moralizations and the tacked-on feel-good ending, there was a dark, strange, perverse story lurking, that we see only glimpses of.

Naturally I went to the AO3 looking for fic. Oh dear. I didn't even read any of it, and I still want brain bleach. These were not the dark, strange, perverse stories I was looking for.

Labor Day

Sep. 4th, 2017 02:59 pm
kindkit: Old poster image of woman leading rally, captioned: my Marxist-feminist dialectic brings all the boy to the yard (Fandomless: Marxist-feminist dialectic)
1) Whenever I had a spare moment during my shift at work today*, I thought bitterly about the fact that many the people Labor Day ostensibly celebrates don't have the day off. Because they have no unions and therefore no/few paid holidays.

*I didn't have many spare moments, because all the people with good jobs and money to spend did have the day off and were shopping.

2) I recently watched The Hippopotamus, in which Roger Allam plays a boozy washed-up poet who is hired to investigate a purported miracle at the country house of a friend. It's based on a novel by Stephen Fry, which . . . well, it wasn't as cruelly cynical as I thought it would be, though I should note that the movie's lone gay character was depicted in a way I must describe as homophobic. (I feel like Stephen Fry has form for this, but I'm not completely sure.) It's not a terrible movie, and worth it if you like Roger Allam (Fiona Shaw is also in it, but rather wasted in a small role; then there's a bizarrely miscast Matthew Modine as the lord of the manor, his American accent unconvincingly handwaved as the result of having an American father). I did like Tim McInnerny as the abovementioned gay man, and I think it might have been a better movie from his point of view.

3) I appear to be rewatching as much of Good News Week as I can readily find. Paul McDermott makes me happy.

4) Speaking of which, DAAS were at the Edinburgh festival and appeared briefly on BBC Radio's The Now Show a week or two ago. They sang "The Sailor's Arms," and to my delight, rephrased the transphobic last line to be better. It's still a song that can deservedly be termed problematic, but I kind of love it anyway and I was glad to see it improved. If you want to hear it, I think this episode of the Now Show is still on the BBC i-Player for a couple of weeks.

5) There's an interesting review of DAAS's Shepherds Bush performance here. I don't agree with everything about it (I think even DAAS's cruder jokes are cleverer than Regan realizes), but I liked reading about the show's emotional impact, since I'm never going to be able to see it myself unless they release a DVD. The reason I'm posting about it here, though, is that the reviewer writes that Tim Ferguson "is going to die very soon." This completely freaked me out, especially since the review was linked to both from the official DAAS Facebook and from Tim's own Facebook, and in neither case did Tim say, "Um, actually not dying soon that I know of." So now I'm worried that he is dying and it's something they've acknowledged in the show. Certainly Tim's MS has gotten worse, and he said in an interview that it's moved into the steadily progressing stage and he doesn't expect any more remissions. I even googled "Is Tim Ferguson dying," and found lots about Tim's MS but nothing to say he is in fact dying, so I'm hoping that the reviewer just got the wrong end of the stick. Still, it is worrisome. I know it's ridiculous to feel so concerned about celebrities (plural because, honestly, it makes me worry as much for Paul as for Tim), and normally I wouldn't, but somehow, in this case, I do.

6) To try to end on something positive: I watched the first episode of the new Bake Off and it didn't suck. There hasn't been any attempt to manufacture tension or feuds or whatever between the bakers, which is what I was afraid of. I do very much feel the lack of Mel and Sue, and especially of Mary Berry, but I am one of those weird people who actually likes Paul Hollywood, so I'm willing to watch just for him while I warm up to the new bakers and hopefully the new presenters.


Aug. 6th, 2017 05:47 pm
kindkit: 'A man in WWII-era military uniform drinks tea in front of a van painted with "The Soldiers' Drink: Tea" (Fandomless: Soldiers drink tea)
I saw Dunkirk today. I really wanted to like it, but I'm afraid I didn't.

A few thoughts under the cut )
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: 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.


Mar. 3rd, 2017 04:23 pm
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I saw Logan today. Non-spoilery reaction: it's pretty damn good and you should see it if you have any interest in the X-Men movieverse(s). Don't (unlike some idiots I saw today) bring young kids, though, because it's also pretty damn violent--apparently the creators thought they needed to justify that R rating with lots of blood.

Spoilers, spoilers, and more spoilers ensue )


Nov. 4th, 2016 11:29 am
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
1) I saw the movie Denial the other night. It's about the trial of Deborah Lipstadt, a history professor who was sued for libel by Holocaust denier David Irving after she called him a Holocaust denier. The script created a surprising amount of suspense and tension from a story to which most people know the ending (Lipstadt was acquitted on the grounds that everything she said about Irving was true), and the acting was great. Rachel Weisz may have overacted a little bit in some scenes, but it's hard to be sure because she was playing a brash American among a bunch of restrained middle-class English people. Andrew Scott was great as Lipstadt's solicitor, Tom Wilkinson marvellously nuanced as her barrister, and Mark Gatiss imbued a small role with a quiet, mysterious charisma. Anyone who thinks Scott and/or Gatiss can't act should see this film.

The script, by David Hare, is a delicate balancing act. The plot trajectory is almost that of a feel-good film, in which truth wins out and the bad guy is reproved and shamed. But the truth that wins out is one of the greatest atrocities in human history. The film, especially in the final sequence, sharply restrains our celebratory reactions. In the end, that's what I liked most about it.

2) After seeing the film, I read Lipstadt's book on the Eichmann trial (I haven't been able to get hold of her book on Holocaust denial yet, but I want to read it although it's well out of date by now.) The Eichmann book was disappointing. This gets a bit long )

3) In (somewhat) lighter reading, I've been thinking about re-reading Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad books so that I can finally read Secret Place and then the new one. I need to be reminded of the characters' backstories and interactions, but I'm not sure I can take that much concentrated bleakness in one big dose.

I'd like to know why so many contemporary mystery writers think the only story worth telling is one that makes you wish that whole human race would be wiped out in an asteroid strike.

4) Work post-mortem gathering tonight. I'm going, because I want to try to maintain relationships with people, but I can't say I'm eager. Hopefully the people I particularly want to see will be there, and not too many of the ones I don't.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I actually left the house for social purposes today. I went with a friend to see Eye in the Sky, with Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman, and then we had dinner at the local pho restaurant afterwards. (Their food is mediocre, in my opinion, but sometimes even mediocre pho is better than none.)

The movie was excellent and I recommend it lots, though you will not leave the cinema feeling cheerful. It's the only movie I've ever seen, I think, that is entirely about moral questions--specifically, in this case, the morality of a drone strike that will have horrifying consequences if carried out, and probably worse ones if it isn't. It's sort of like an hour and a half of a constantly escalating version of the trolley problem. The writing is intelligent and the acting, as you would expect, is first-rate.

My only reservation is my feeling, from news I don't follow too closely because it depresses me, that real world drone strikes are never given the level of thought we see from the characters in the film. It seems to be more like "yeah, let's blow up this suspected terrorist and never mind if the market/apartment building/village he happens to be near gets wiped out too." So I wonder if the film, bleak as it is, is actually too rosy.

Still, an excellent movie and a worthy last role for Alan Rickman. Rickman spends most of the film in a chair--he may have been already ill during filming, though I don't know that for sure--and is still absolutely compelling.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
As usual, I did a bit of cooking and baking. Yesterday I roasted some beets that had been lurking in my fridge and dressed them in a mustardy vinaigrette. I really ought to look into some other things to do with beets. Beets are delish but I'm a bit bored with this salad.

Also yesterday I made an approximation of a paella, with chicken, some Spanish chorizo, red and yellow peppers (capsicums), saffron, and a little smoked paprika. It was very tasty so I don't care how inauthentic it is. Next time I want to add some mussels or clams, though. Or shrimp, but I've been avoiding shrimp because it seems like it's all either environmentally disastrous, produced with slave labor, or both. (I'm sure there's acceptable shrimp on the market, but it's probably out of my price range. Mussels, on the other hand, are both cheap and sustainable, and I like them a lot.)

Today I discovered that I only had enough flour to bake muffins or soda bread (having forgotten to start proper bread yesterday), so naturally I chose muffins--cranberry pecan streusel muffins, to be exact. I used a recipe from the high-altitude baking book I have, but as has consistently been my experience with the book, the result was only okay. They didn't rise the way they were supposed to despite my following directions for my exact altitude, and the taste is a bit meh. The latter was probably not helped by my having to substitute lemon zest for the orange zest called for, and vanilla for the orange extract, but even so. Still, they're not bad and they used up the last of the whole cranberries that have been in my freezer since November.

I also ended up improvising a salad, loosely based on a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's Jerusalem. Their recipe is for deep-fried cauliflower florets with tahini-garlic dressing and pomegranate molasses. I roasted the cauliflower and an onion in a little olive oil, then when it had cooled I tossed some with romaine lettuce, some garlic croutons I made earlier, the tahini dressing, and some za'atar. Not bad at all, and I still have a lot of leftover cauliflower-and-onion mixture.

Otherwise I've done very little. On Friday I rented two movies with Mads Mikkelsen: King Arthur, which I am assured is the worst movie ever made but makes up for it by the chemistry between Mads and Hugh Dancy, and Valhalla Rising, which I gather from the blurb is mostly about Mads' character and others being tormented and horribly killed. So far I've yet to watch either, though I might try King Arthur tonight.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
We're at the start of a nasty winter storm here. It's snowing more or less horizontally due to the wind, which is also howling around corners and occasionally rattling the windowframes. I have actually turned the heat on, which I try to avoid because it's not cheap, and I'm currently wearing five layers and am still rather cold. It's supposed to stay bad for about twenty-four hours, but fortunately I don't have to go anywhere. I did go to work today, but only from 7-noon and I was home long before things got ugly.

(Sunday morning ETA: All the really bad weather has missed my area so far. There's just a dusting of snow here, with another inch or two expected today. But east and south of here, it's very bad. If you're there, I hope you're indoors, safe, and warm.)

I had a mellow Christmas, consistently mostly of cheese and movies. I watched Mr. Holmes, which is very good if (I think) not quite as non-heterosexual as people assured me it was; anyway, the performances are excellent, especially Ian McKellen, of course, but also Laura Linney, who disappeared so completely into the role of Mrs. Munro that until I checked IMDB just now I had assumed Munro was played by a British actor, and Milo Parker in one of the best performances by a child actor I've ever seen. After Mr. Holmes and as an antidote to its seriousness, I watched Despicable Me, which I'm probably the last person on earth to see. It was fun! And funny! I liked it best before it started to become heartwarming, but I didn't even mind the heartwarming parts too much--perhaps because I have chosen to interpret them as a story about a single gay man starting a family, and be damned to what apparently happens in the sequel.

Then of course there was Yuletide. I got four lovely fics, thanks to the generosity of writers currently unknown. List and links under the cut )

I've been reading other Yuletide fics a bit, but Yuletide Fatigue set in unusually early for me this year and I'm finding it hard to want to read even things that I would normally be over the moon about.

I do have three recs so far, in the fandoms Rejseholdet, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, here at the top of my AO3 bookmarks list.
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 )


Nov. 14th, 2015 05:12 pm
kindkit: Images of Mycroft's tie, eyes, and cane. (Sherlock: Mycroft is proper)
I saw Spectre today.

spoilers under the cut )


Jun. 12th, 2015 05:24 pm
kindkit: Images of Mycroft's tie, eyes, and cane. (Sherlock: Mycroft is proper)
Kingsman just came out on DVD here in the US, so I finally got a chance to watch it.

do your secret-agent knock here to read more, including MAJOR spoilers )


Jan. 7th, 2015 08:57 pm
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
I'm quickly dashing in to say hello--my internet's out again and I'm using a free 1-hour trial from a wifi service.

1) Reading

As I mentioned, I bought myself Melissa Scott's Fairs' Point and Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold's Death at the Dionysus Club as a Christmas present. I've already talked about how much I enjoyed Fairs' Point. I also liked Dionysus very much, but not quite as much as Death by Silver. The plot of Dionysus works better, I think, and the worldbuilding feels more integrated, but the characterization and especially the relationship between Ned and Julian felt like it went over the same ground as the previous book. They had the same anxieties and misunderstandings, and despite the resolution of the last book, there wasn't much of a sense through most of this one of them having grown closer or learned to trust each other more. I realize that these things are a process, and in real life people/couples often do rehash the same issues again and again, but it still felt too same-y to me.

I also read Ben Aaronovitch's Foxglove Summer, the latest River of London book, and was sadly disappointed. It seemed to have about half a novel's worth of story (the resolution in particular was too easy and too pasted-on), and taking Peter out of London just wasn't a great idea, since part of the joy of the series is its vivid sense of place and history, and Peter doesn't have that same connection with the countryside, nor did Aaronovitch do anything all that interesting with Peter as an outsider. Also, not enough Nightingale. Not enough Nightingale by far. The one thing I really did like was that the book featured a gay man in a prominent supporting role, and Peter treated him in a collegial and friendly way without any of the nervous distancing he's shown towards queer people in the past. I don't know whether to credit Peter or Aaronovitch or both, but either way I was glad to see it.

After finishing Foxglove Summer I re-read the earlier books and enjoyed them very much, despite some irritating inconsistencies that become more noticeable when you read the books back to back. More on this, also on Nightingale and Peter/Nightingale )

3) Cooking

Since I had a lot of ham left over from Christmas, I have been doing Things With Ham. Besides lots of ham sandwiches, I've also cooked red beans and rice with the ham bone, and a potato, corn, and ham chowder. In both of these, besides the ham itself I used some of the juice from cooking the ham (with the considerable layer of fat removed). These juices are super super salty, but used in reasonable quantities in a large pot of beans or soup, incredibly delicious.

I haven't been doing much other cooking. We were still really busy at work until a few days ago, plus there are all the various Christmas leftovers. I'm still nibbling away at the fruitcake I baked, and also at a delicious cranberry cake that a customer at work gave me. When I see her again (assuming I can remember what she looks like, because I'm terrible at faces) I want to ask for the recipe. Though it seems to be a pretty basic pound cake with cranberries added. Yum.

4) Movies

Still haven't seen The Imitation Game. I'm hearing less than great things about it: that it fictionalizes too much and that it downplays Turing's gayness. I welcome comments from people who've seen it. One to see in the theater or should I wait for the DVD?

ETA 5) Awesomeness

I desperately want to read the story attached to this gorgeous illustration, but alas the link at the bottom of the Tumblr post I've linked to doesn't go to the story. It does, however, go to a website called "Vintage Homoerotic Illustrations," which is relevant to my interests and perhaps to yours. Warning: some of the "illustrations" are porn stills, but some of them are genuine old illustrations that fill me with delight.


Nov. 13th, 2014 07:43 pm
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
Today I treated myself to a movie and saw Pride, which I loved. It's the semi-fictionalized story of a group of gay and lesbian activists who worked in support of the striking miners in 1984-85 (and it's much, much more fun than that description makes it sound). If you've seen The Full Monty or Brassed Off you'll be familiar with a lot of the tropes, but really, "a group of disparate people work together against oppression and become friends in the process" is the kind of trope I can get behind. Plus, the movie refreshingly focuses on friendship and solidarity, and while there are established couples in the story, there's no central romance. (Though I did find myself rather shamefacedly shipping Mark/Dai.)

Other good points: 1) The story includes a fat woman whose weight is not in any way ever at all an issue. Isn't even mentioned, while her intelligence and courage are very important to the story. 2) The story is unabashedly political and doesn't feel any need to present the government and corporations' view. 3) It doesn't avoid difficult topics, like the increasing tension between lesbian and gay male activists or the growing AIDS epidemic, but these things never overwhelm the main story.

Also the performances are very strong. I especially like Andrew Scott as Gethin, Imelda Staunton as Hefina, and Paddy Considine as Dai. Dominic West nearly steals the show as Gethin's boyfriend Jonathan, and for once I actually liked Bill Nighy as Cliff.

I hope lots and lots of people will see this and start writing fanfic.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
Last week I rented Railway Man, the second recent Colin Firth film I've watched lately that has made me think Mr. Firth needs to be pickier about the roles he accepts. (The other was The Devil's Knot.) Railway Man isn't a bad film, but it's not as good as I was expecting. It's hampered by a script that has to accommodate people's ignorance of what happened to FEPOWs, and also by the fact that the war-era flashback sections necessarily feature younger actors. Poor Jeremy Irvine has the thankless task of playing young Eric Lomax, which means he has to play Colin Firth playing Eric Lomax, and while he tries valiantly his performance feels constrained. The most thankless task, though, goes to Nicole Kidman as Lomax's wife Patti, who in the script isn't so much a person as a romantic fantasy and a catalyst.

More seriously, the story suffers from the biopic tendency to idolize its subject, to the point where it's sort of implied that Eric Lomax's suffering was uniquely terrible. Not really spoilery, but cut, also warning for references to torture )

Also recently watched: Philby, Burgess, and Maclean, a 1977 Granada production starring Alan Bate as Philby, Derek Jacobi as Burgess, and Michael Culver (who played Major Brandt in Secret Army) as Maclean. The script is a bit stodgy and the music and other effects are almost hilariously overdramatic, but the acting is good. Jacobi gives Burgess a louche charm, and Culver is amazing as the unstable, doubting Maclean. Philby, the sanest character and therefore the least interesting, is unfortunately the focus of the story and I don't think Bate (not helped by the script) quite conveys a sense of hidden depths. Not something I can recommend unreservedly, but worth it if you're a fan of any of the actors, and there are standout scenes with Burgess and Maclean together and of Maclean's wife confronting Burgess.

And now, a pairings meme! Grabbed from [personal profile] flo_nelja.

click here for questions and answers )
kindkit: Finch looks thoughtfully at the computer and so does Bear (POI: Finch and Bear thinking)
1) My internet has gone away again. It's been gone for two days; all the usual caveats (it could come back at any time or it could stay gone) apply. So if I don't seem to be reading, posting, or commenting in a timely manner, that's why. (Right now I'm at Starbucks, enjoying both the wi-fi and the air conditioning.)

2) It turns out that the novel I thought didn't exist--the novel about WWII-era POWs that focuses on homoeroticism/homosexuality/love between men in POW camps--actually does. It's called Bitter Eden and was published in the UK in 2002 by the South African writer and activist Tatamkhulu Africa, who was a POW in Italy and Germany during the war. It's just now been republished by a US publisher. I'm about halfway through it; it's not an easy read for several reasons, which I'll post about once I've finished it, but I'd say it's a good novel as well as, by virtue of its subject matter, an important one.

3) I recently watched The Devil's Knot, an Atom Egoyan-directed drama very closely based (as in, they're using the real names and everything) on the case of the West Memphis Three, who were convicted of the 1993 murder of three young boys on extraordinarily unreliable evidence, plus the fact that they listened to heavy metal music and were interested in "the occult." Colin Firth plays an investigator working pro bono for the defense who begins to uncover how compromised and in some cases perjured the prosecution's evidence was, while Reese Witherspoon plays the mother of one of the victims, who begins to have doubts about the defendants' guilt. It's a decent movie, not great but powerful because the subject matter is powerful, and worth seeing for that if, like me, you're not sure you want to watch the series of three documentaries that have been made about the case. (Trigger warning for disturbing images, though--since even now no one knows exactly what happened--there's no onscreen violence.)

4) Today at work I received some unsolicited diet advice from a customer. That was awesome! (No it wasn't.) It's never happened to me before, and I'd like it to never happen again. (She recommended the paleo diet, by the way. Surprise surprise.)


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

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