kindkit: Medieval image of a mapmaker constructing a globe (Fandomless: Mapmaker)
I've started watching the Danish TV series Dicte, about a crime reporter who keeps getting entangled in her own stories and ends up helping the police solve crimes. (The police, on the whole, would rather she stopped.) So far it's a pretty mediocre show, but Lars Brygmann (aka Thomas LaCour from Rejseholdet) is in it.

Anyway, in the fourth episode of S1, mild spoilers )


Oct. 15th, 2017 12:15 pm
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
This weekend I've binge-watched Mindhunter, the new Netflix series about the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit in the late 1970s, as it began developing the modern practice of profiling by interviewing incarcerated serial killers (and even invented the term "serial killer").

Some thoughts under the cut )


Sep. 4th, 2017 07:49 pm
kindkit: Text: im in ur history emphasizin ur queerz (Fandomless: Queer history)
I just watched the first part of Man in an Orange Shirt, one of the shows the BBC produced for its Gay Britannia celebration, and it was wrenching. It's about two men who fall in love just after the Second World War, but one of them is engaged to be married, and everything plays out just as you'd expect. *sigh* I guess it's important for people to know queer history, and to understand that homophobia and criminalization wrecked lives, but . . . I would also like to see representation of the unwrecked lives, of the ways queer men found to resist and even to be happy.

I think the second part is going to be happier, but that's set in the present, and as such it doesn't speak to me as much.

Should've been more cautious, because I'm not really in a good emotional state for stories of heartbreak.

tl;dr still waiting for the Second World War era love story between two men that has a happy ending.

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

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