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.

Posted in Other Media

Cinema Saturday, 1/21/23

Saloum

Year: 2021
Runtime: 1h 24m
Rated: not rated

Director: Jean Luc Herbulot

Writers: Jean Luc Herbulot, Pamela Diop

Stars: Yann Gael, Evelyne Ily Juhen, Roger Sallah, Mentor Ba

Double Feature Fodder:
Rigor Mortis (2013)

Initial: Lots of good buzz in my corner of the movie community.

Production Notes: A Senegalese film by a Congolese director.

What Did I Think:
I absolutely would have watched a whole movie of the Bangui’s Hyenas pulling merc jobs together. The beginning of the film gives enough interplay to cement the group, but I would have liked more.

I’m not much of a fan of revenge films, really, despite for their almost requisite downer endings. Saloum kept me engaged due to its unfamiliar setting and unique mythology. My biggest criticism is that is doesn’t handle the supernatural aspect very well. There is a long time gap between when the audience sees the force that has come for Chaka and when the audience sees what the does to people. Its “attack” isn’t even hinted at. In order to be properly concerned, we needed a good taste of what peril and fate awaits Chaka.


Men

Year: 2022
Runtime:
Rated:

Director: Alex Garland

Writer: Alex Garland

Stars: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu, Gayle Rankin

Double Feature Fodder:
Midsommar (2019)

Initial: I mostly avoided hearing too much about this movie aside from it being Alex Garland’s new film.

Production Notes: Being face blind means not realizing that Rory Kinnear plays all the men in Cotson.

What Did I Think:
I haven’t decided how much I want to say about this movie.

Alex Garland and his director of photography Rob Hardy are really wonderful visual filmmakers. Even Men‘s gory scenes are beautiful and every moment seems intentional. Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear are really good. Buckley is in every scene and Kinnear gives five or so subtly different performances.

What’s it all about though? That’s a question I asked during Garland’s visually stunning Annihilation (2018) too. Is it about toxic masculinity? I don’t think so entirely, but it wasn’t the body horror in this film that made me nauseous. Harper is mostly helpless even as she’s attempting to be an autonomous actor in her life. That is . . . uncomfortable.

Posted in Female Author, Male Author, Novella, Readathons-Challenges-Memes, TBRs

Reading Notes, 1/19/23

Cover: We Are Sitting in a Room by Glen Hirshberg

Read

We Are Sitting in a Room

We Are Sitting in a Room is a novella by Glen Hirshberg. It’s part of a non-speculative fiction series he’s been writing, but this story’s setting still contains that askew feeling that I really appreciate from Hirshberg. I was initially a little put off by the second person POV, but that’s only part of the story wrap-around.

The meat of the tale is told by Rae about her association with Teddy and his(?) strange experimental music record store.

Do you think it’s possible that all the experiences that matter most to us—by definition, precisely because they matter to us—are ours alone? Even if there’s someone else experiencing them with you?

The feeling of this story as well as its connection to music reminded me of “His Only Audience” from Hirshberg’s Infinity Dreams. I was surprised, but shouldn’t have been, that the experimental music piece that gives this story its title, “I Am Sitting in a Room,” is actually a thing.

Short Stories

“Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” by Sarah Pinsker – Is there a name for using a non-narrative format like a recipe or, in this case, a crowd-sourced infopedia entry to tell a story? I’m still not sure what I think of these sorts of things. On one hand, they are entertaining, but I wonder if my enjoyment is from the novelty and not the quality of the work. In any case, “Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” is very entertaining and seemingly well done.

Deal Me In: 8❤️
“The Bughouse Caper” by Bill Pronzini – My second selection from Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years. In this story, Holmes is officially still dead, but alive and well and not really hiding in San Francisco. The main character of this mystery is John Quincannon, which is the detective in a series by Pronzini. While the details of San Francisco were vivid, there wasn’t much Holmes and I don’t think it presented Quincannon in a good light either.

Reading

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

  • Still reading The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe as my morning book. This book deserves an internet-wide reading in the style of Dracula Daily. My friend Emily is really in it now!
  • Found out that The Pale Blue Eye, a currently Poe-adjacent Netflix movie, is based on a book by Louis Bayard.
  • Which means that Mockingbird by Walter Tevis has been knocked down my list a ways.

Challenge Updates

My Challenges

  • Read 20 books that I owned before 1/1/23: 1/20
    We Are Sitting in a Room counts!
  • Get my Library Thing “to-read” down to 500: currently 518
  • Read 18 books from my Classics Club list: 0/18

Shelf Maintenance

It has been 3 days since I last acquired a book. I purchased K J Kabza’s new anthology Through Spaces.

Posted in History

Monday Miscellanea, 1/16/23

(I’m again experimenting with a more miscellaneous Monday post, moving my reading notes to later in the week.)

What Happened Last Week?

A screenshot from Minecraft. The view is of a zombie down a mineshaft/hallway.

After a pretty solid Week 1 of 2023, I fell victim to a new Minecraft server in the Nabity household. I was going to add a picture of our current base, but I forgot I logged off in a mine so here’s a zombie down a corridor.

A Good Moment

I made some really good pancakes last Wednesday.

Random Links

I also came across “Read for pleasure: Against the functionalist approach to literature”, which has been jangling around my brain. This commentary was written in response to AI researcher Lex Fridman posting his planned reading list for the year. Fridman wants to read a book a week, the TBR list a combination of rereads and recommendations (those mostly science fiction). I’m not familiar with Fridman, but he seems like an okay dude. What the author of the commentary, critic Kit Wilson, take exception to is not necessarily the structure of Fridman’s plan, but that is has structure at all.

I’m a big fan of structure. I love making lists. They are a bulwark against decision-making latency. What should I read next? I could ponder that for a few days or I could check my list. At one point in this article Wilson asks, “Do you know what you’ll be reading on May 17th this year?” He seems disappointed that Fridman does. Actually, I do know what I’ll be reading on May 17th. It’s a Wednesday, which I’ve decided to set aside for stories from Weird Tales magazine. I started at issue 1, first published in 1923, and I’m going to read a story a week. On Wednesday, May 17th, I’ll probably be reading “The Scarlet Night” by William Sanford.

Wilson argues that not allowing for free-form follow-your-whim reading is bad for . . . reasons. I certainly do easily deviate from my lists, but the list is there to keep me moving forward. Someone making and even partially following a list might be the difference between them reading and not reading. What Wilson doesn’t seem to understand is that reading from a list can still be pleasurable. Reading from a list doesn’t mean that the reader isn’t making connections between books or not adding to their own cultural or literary frameworks.

Plus, my personal philosophy is: Read for whatever damn reason you want.

Writing Check-In

Nothing to report. I didn’t get much writing done last week (see above); short pieces are still in slush piles (presumably).