Posted in History

Monday Miscellanea, 2/6/23

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Pexels.com

What Happened Last Week?

Ever have one of those weeks when things go a little wrong? When maybe you minorly screw up just about everything? Yeah, that was last week for me. Nothing went terribly wrong, but nothing was quite right either. By Thursday/Friday, I was in a foul, foul mood.

Good bit: Eric started DMing a Gamma World campaign using GURPS. Gamma World is a post-apocalypse setting and is full of mutant animals and puns. My characters is a blind bipedal human-sized guinea pig with radar vision named Ray Carls, Jr.

A Good Moment

I was up early enough on Friday to catch some of the sunrise. The sky was particularly lovely in shades of peach, mauve, and deep blue.

Random Links

Books edition, apparently:

Writing Check-In

Writing-related link of the week: Five More Creativity Exercises for Writers

NaNo project task list:

  • Finish the new interstitial scene I started last week.
  • Rewrite last remaining scene from the November draft.
  • Write the ending.
Posted in Other Media

Cinema Saturday, 2/4/23

The Dry

Year: 2020
Runtime: 1h 57m
Rated: R

Director: Robert Connolly

Writers: Harry Cripps, Robert Connolly, Jane Harper

Stars: Eric Bana, Genevieve O’Reilly, Keir O’Donnell

Double Feature Fodder:
Mystic River (2003)

Initial: A recommendation by by husband.

Production Notes: In the top 20 of highest-grossing Australian films of all time.

What Did I Think:
Solid crime thriller, great setting.

As usual, I hadn’t watched the trailer before the movie and was momentarily confused during the first flashback. Otherwise, the primary mystery and its solution are fairly well-plotted. What I didn’t really need was a solid explanation for Ellie’s behaviors in the past. I don’t mind some level of ambiguity and part of it seemed a little tacked on. The Dry is based on a novel by Jane Harper and I wonder if the ending plays out more gracefully in the book. A big plus for me was the setting: rural Victoria, Australia during a year-long drought.


13 Going on 30

Year: 2004
Runtime: 1h 38m
Rated: PG-13

Director: Gary Winick

Writers: Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa

Stars: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer

Double Feature Fodder:
Kate & Leopold (2001)

Initial: Mark Ruffalo was in a rom-com?

What Did I Think:
This movie pretty much delivers on what it promises: fish-out-of-water hijinks, “where did I go wrong?” life lessons, and a necessarily chaste romance. It’s goofy and sweet and only occasionally annoying. Many characters seem to disregard “grown-up” Jenna’s very weird behaviors without any explanation. Like Magic Wishing Dust, you just gotta go with it.

Besides, I mean, haven’t you always wanted to see Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, and Andy Serkis dance to “Thriller”?


Skinamarink

Year: 2022
Runtime: 1h 40m
Rated: not rated

Director: Kyle Edward Ball

Writer: Kyle Edward Ball

Stars: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill

Double Feature Fodder:
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021)

Initial: Current darling of the horror social media sphere.

Production Notes: Had a mostly crowd-funded budget of $15,000. Has made about $2M in a limited theatrical release.

What Did I Think:
Skinamarink is experimental.

The summary I’ve seen everywhere is: two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished. I’m not sure I would have known that without the blurb. Chris Stuckmann, in his short YouTube video on Skinamarink, mentions that Ball denies audiences many of the conventions of traditional films, including things like plot and even the actors’ faces. I’d say that, more impactfully, he strays from the usual language of film.

Are there establishing shots of rooms? No, unless you consider an establishing shot to be the upper corner of a doorway molding. Reaction shots of the characters when things happen? Again, no. The camera is sometimes in the POV of one of the children, but their reactions are very subdued. Without a physical geography or an emotional palette to draw from, I really had a hard time engaging with what was happening in this movie. Is the film unsettling? Yes. Is it terrifying? Not for me. Is this how it was to be a kid and not understand big things like death and abuse (which are reading I’ve seen from what’s happening)? Maybe, I guess, though I never found my world to be this murky.

Posted in Female Author, Readathons-Challenges-Memes, Short Story

Reading Notes, 2/2/23

Cover: The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

Read

Short Stories

4♦️ “10 Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)” by Holly Black – Finally drew a card that wasn’t a heart! And finally dipped into a different anthology. “10 Rules . . .” is from Monstrous Affections, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. This was an ARC prize from Armchair BEA 2014. 😬 This whole anthology is stories playing with the concept of monsters. In “10 Rules . . .,” Tera, our young protagonist has stowed away on her uncles ship when he leaves Mars. She ends up having to deal with space pirates and a (rumored) blood-thirsty alien.

If monsters can make tea, then nothing’s safe.

Other short stories read this week:

January Wrap-Up

I didn’t finish reading many books in January, but I still had a decent month.

Books: Only finished We Are Sitting in a Room by Glen Hirshberg.

Short stories: Read 14 short stories/long articles, most of them have been mentioned on the blog. My favorite would have to be “Grits, Goblins, and Good Times” by WC Dunlap.

Reading

  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  • The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

Challenge Updates

My Challenges

No movement:

  • Read 20 books that I owned before 1/1/23: 1/20
  • Get my Library Thing “to-read” down to 500: 518
  • Read 18 books from my Classics Club list: 0/18

Shelf Maintenance

It’s been 17 days since I acquired a book.

Posted in History

Monday Miscellanea, 1/30/23

Picture from behind of a woman lunging for a frisbee.
One of my favorite pictures of me playing ultimate frisbee, from late January 2019. Pic courtesy Chikara Kakizawa.

What Happened Last Week?

As I predicted, I had a lot of ultimate frisbee things last week. Winter A/B league fully started, so I had some of the schedule and “B” division teams to post. I also had a couple updates for our yearly New Year Fest tournament. I played pickup twice. Dave, who was the co-founder of the pickup game I’m now running, is in town. He retired to Michigan a few years ago and is snow-birding this February/March.

A Good Moment

Friday pickup was again a bit of a highlight. I didn’t play very well, but we had a good turn out, my body was feeling good, and the weather was pretty perfect. (My life is so boring.)

Random Links

Writing Check-In

Some writing-related links:

  • 6 Lessons Learned From 4 Years of Writer’s Block – I’ve called the last few years a writing hiatus, but I suppose block is a word for it too. Funnily enough, I can see a parallel between “plot” blocks and “creative” blocks. Both can involve a twisting of logic into something that doesn’t feel like reality and is wrong.
  • Novel subplots – Not sure I agree with everything here, but that’s how writing advice goes.

I’m not really where I wanted to be at the end of January, but that’s what happens when a week and a half gets eaten by apathy. I intend to continue working on my NaNoWriMo project. I have two scenes left to rewrite and a whole lot of new material to add. It’s more like rewrite a scene, add a bunch, rewrite a scene, add a bunch, so I’d really like to have both of those rewrites out of the way by the end of this week.

Posted in Other Media

Cinema Saturday, 1/28/23

Minari

Year: 2020
Runtime: 1h 55m
Rated: PG-13

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Writer: Lee Isaac Chung

Stars: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim

Double Feature Fodder:

Initial: Being from Nebraska originally, even from the city of Omaha, the trailer to Minari made me a little homesick.

Production Notes: I’m not surprised that Chung started out with the notion of adapting Willa Cather’s My Antonia.

What Did I Think:
In the past several years, I’ve spent a lot of time watching genre movies, especially horror movies. I had forgotten that there is style of drama in which the entire story revolves around bad things happening to characters usually due to bad luck, bad decisions, and/or systemic problems. And . . . I hate these kinds of dramas.

But why? Horror is all about bad things happening to characters usually due to bad luck, bad decisions, and/or a supernatural element that is an allegory for systemic problems. Even though I often grump about allegory in fiction, is it the lack of allegory that I dislike in dramas? It is that I would much rather deal with insanity-causing ghosts, blood-thirsty vampires, and flesh-eating zombies rather than bad weather and financial strife? I think part of it is that horror is often an overlay on other genres. In horror, there are usually aspects of mysteries, thrillers, or comedies maybe in addition to the tropes of genres like science fiction or westerns. Horror feels richer to me.

Minari is beautiful movie. I enjoyed spending time with these characters. I was just really annoyed when their lives end up being problem after problem.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Notes, 1/26/23

Cover: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Cover: The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

Read

Short Stories

Deal Me In: 2❤️
I managed to pick yet another heart! That’s three in a row. Deuces are wild so I chose a story off my infinite short story list. “AITA for throwing away my wife’s haunted dolls?” by Annika Barranti Klein is an example of other-thing-as-narrative that didn’t really work for me. Maybe it was because “haunted” is being invoked in the title that led the rest of the story to being a bit flat. (In contrast, Sarah Pinsker’s “Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” lingers quite a while in area of mundane-but-slightly-off before bringing in an urban legend-like aspect.)

My “extra” short story for the week was “Grits, Goblins, and Good Times” by WC Dunlap.

“You really shouldn’t have done that.” Mister Chauncey’s voice is filled with amusement. “There’s disrespect, and then there’s sugar in grits. Holy shit, kids, you done fucked up now.”

It’s a full little story with lots of food and some other spicy things.

Reading

Didn’t finish any longer works in the past week. I’m still reading and enjoying:

  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  • The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

Challenge Updates

No change here either.

My Challenges

  • Read 20 books that I owned before 1/1/23: 1/20
  • Get my Library Thing “to-read” down to 500: 518
  • Read 18 books from my Classics Club list: 0/18

Shelf Maintenance

I has been 10 days since I acquired a book.

Posted in History

Monday Miscellanea, 1/23/23

What’s Happening?

Last week, I played Minecraft less and read and wrote more. I also napped a lot. It’s been cold in Phoenix, meaning it’s been 60F-ish degrees in the daytime. Perfect sleeping weather.

This week will probably be busy. I’ll have AB League and New Year Fest updates to do, and Dave, a friend and fellow ultimate player, is back in town as a snowbird. He was the founder of our lunchtime ultimate frisbee game, so he’s itching to play.

A Good Moment

I’ve only played two games of ultimate frisbee this year thus far, both Friday pickup. I had a couple of nice catches last game including a tipped throw that I snagged inches from the ground, while managing to stay in the endzone.

Random Links

So many of the things I read last week were depressing. These links aren’t:

  • The Other Lives of Adam and Eve – Some weirdness from the Public Domain Review. (Since I’ve written a couple of biblical “retellings,” does that mean I’ve created apocrypha?)
  • The smörgåsbord saga – I love the history of things you don’t usually think about.

Writing Check-In

I got a nibble on my short story.

Will I finish the rewrite/draft of my NaNo project in January? 😬

Writing related link of note: Latest Updates to Amazon Author Central in 2023
I really need to update, well, everything at Amazon.