Posted in History

Monday Miscellanea, 3/13/23

What Happened Last Week?

The weather has warmed up to normal levels finally, which mean that Eric and I ran and threw every day last week and played ultimate on Friday. Spring league starts this week, we play on Thursday, but other than that we don’t know too much. Organization for league started later than it should have and registration was slow and smaller than usual. This week I’ll have all kinds of updates to make to the website—teams haven’t even been published yet!

The Western Ultimate League season started on Saturday. The Sidewinders, our local professional women’s ultimate frisbee team, won both their games! Which is good news because the college basketball season is at an end for Nebraska fans. (I have a tendency to mark time via sporting events . . .)

Ended up playing too much Minecraft, as I do.

Random Links

Writing Check-In

Craft articles of the week: The 5 Turning Points of a Character Arc
Which led to me to realizing that I was over complicating my plot. Since I’m going to start (what I’m calling) draft 3.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Notes, 3/9/23


Finished two books this week. Shocking, I know!

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan

In 1985, Carl Sagan participated in the Gifford Lectures, a series at the University of Glasgow on natural theology. The Varieties of Scientific Experience is the transcript of those lectures. Most are, of course, on what physics and astrophysics can tell us about the possible existence of God. Sagan’s view is that it depends on how we define God. If you consider how marvelous it is that there is a set of physical laws that go beyond just our puny little world, shouldn’t that be grand enough to be considered god? Sagan notes that without a meddling god, humans are left to take responsibility for their own actions and have moral obligation toward preserving this world and not blowing ourselves up with nuclear weapons (as was the overwhelming worry in 1985).

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

I bought this book at Page One Books in Lincoln. Since it’s never mentioned in my back-from-Nebraska hauls, I’ve probably owned this book since college. So, yeah, it’s been on my shelves for 25-ish years.

It’s entertaining, the things that a science fiction author believes will continue into the future. For example in Mockingbird, Sears department store. Granted at time of writing, Sears has existed in one form or another for well over a century. Unfortunately, it will only be a memory by the 22nd century.

Mockingbird is about a robot apocalypse, sort of. Somewhere along the way, humans gave over the operation of everything to robots and retreated into drugs, ignorance, and “privacy.” Reading isn’t just illegal; it’s become a lost art. And when the remaining Mark 9 robot wishes to end his service to humanity, by ending humanity, most humans don’t even notice what’s going on. But there are lessons in this book for us:

“Why shouldn’t I teach Mary Lou to read?”

. . . “Reading is too intimate,” Spofforth said. “It will put you too close to the feelings and ideas of others. It will disturb and confuse you.”

. . . “Why should it be a crime to be disturbed and confused? And to know what others have thought and felt?”

Seems pretty a propos of now.

Short Stories

Currently Reading

  • The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume 1
  • Web of the City by Harlan Ellison

Challenge Updates

  • Read 20 books that I owned before 1/1/23: 3/20 ✅ +1
  • Get my Library Thing “to-read” down to 500: 519 ❌ +0
  • Read 18 books from my Classics Club list: 1/18 ❌ +0
  • Shelf Maintenance: ✅ It’s been twelve days since I last acquired a book.
Posted in History

Monday Miscellanea, 3/6/23

What Happened Last Week?

Just been plodding along. Last week the weather was chilly and rainy. Haven’t gotten out as much as is probably good for me, but the weather is supposed to be warmer this week and spring league is (probably) starting next week. I’ll have additional VOTS work this week (probably).

Random Links

The Comfort of Liminal Spaces (and The Desire to Disappear) (via YouTube) – I’ve been thinking about liminal spaces a bit, especially since watching Skinamarink (2022). It seems that a major factor of why people find Skinamarink scary is that they find the long shots of empty hallways, classic liminal spaces, unsettling. It occurred to me that I don’t have that reaction to liminal spaces. I’ve worked a number of jobs in empty, or nearly empty, buildings. Also, since I am not a driver, I’ve spent a lot of time after events, waiting to be picked up. Weirdly, I don’t find these places creepy. While I don’t agree with all of the YouTuber’s assertions, I do find liminal spaces kind of peaceful.

Let Your Readers Think For Themselves – Against using thought verbs, like thought, realized, knew, and the like. As with all writing advice, YMMV. I think (cough) that good writing includes both brevity and exposition. Contrast is a good thing.

Writing Check-In

It’s been a rough time for one of my flash fiction pieces. Two rejections in just over a week!

Still working on my NaNoWriMo project.

Posted in Female Author, Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Reading Notes, 3/2/23

Cover: Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
Cover: The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan
Cover: The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Vol. 1

Reading Adjacent

From the Tor blog: You Don’t Have to Finish Every Book You Start

I probably saw this post when it was originally published in 2021 and passed it by. At the time, someone literary had made some pronouncement about reading every book you start, and I already had my philosophy about this nailed down: It’s okay to DNF. (DNF is for Did Not Finish. Grammatically, it would be more correct to say “It’s okay to shelf as DNF” since the abbreviation comes as a result of creating a “did not finish” shelf at Goodreads.) I had realized years ago that I wasn’t going to live long enough to get through the list of books I want to read.

But the question is: How many books will I end up reading in my remaining time on this earth? Turns out, Emily Temple has sought to answer this question. If I go by her calculations: 1775 books. I’m rounding up to 50 years old (I’m closer to 50 than 45) and counting myself in the “voracious” category (50 books a year).

I’m considering 1775 books as a long-term challenge and possibly dedicating a journal to the cause. Will this change the number of times I reread Moby-Dick and The Last Unicorn going forward? (Probably not.) Should I count short stories at some . . . amount?

(Actually, using the Social Security tool and doing the math myself, my number is 1860. I don’t want to short-change my reading life.)

Short Stories

Deal Me In, week 8: 8♠️
“Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” by Carrie Cuinn – After a rocky first story from Carrie Cuinn’s Women and Other Constructs, I was relieved by this macabre and rather sweet moral tale.

“Not to be rude, sir, but aren’t you meant to be dead?”

“Hank in the South Dakota Sun” by Stephanie Kraner – What happens when your AI colleague and friend gets a software update? Although I’m not entirely sure why a train needs an AI, I have a tender place in my heart for railroads.

Every job is a journey to Mecca when you’re manufactured for a specific purpose and then given coded awareness of it.

February Wrap-Up

Books Finished/Read:

  • The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard
  • How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

I enjoyed all three of these books, honestly.

Also, 13 short stories. “Bad Doors” by John Wiswell and “Hank in the South Dakota Sun” were my two favorites.


  • Mockingbird by Walter Tevis – Going apace.
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan – My morning reading, at least for the next few days. (Then I’m starting Shakespeare’s sonnets.)
  • The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume 1 – An ARC.

Challenge Updates

My Challenges

  • Read 20 books that I owned before 1/1/23: 2/20
  • Get my Library Thing “to-read” down to 500: 519⬆️
  • Read 18 books from my Classics Club list: 1/18

Shelf Maintenance

I’m really bad at not buying books, but hear me out: Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths by Nancy Marie Brown has been on my TBR list for ages. It went on sale at Amazon *and* I had a Kindle credit, so . . .

Posted in Other Media

Quote ~ The Last Unicorn, Time

The Talking Skull from The Last Unicorn (1982) dir. Rankin/Bass
Always take advice from talking skulls.

You can strike your own time, and start the count anywhere. When you understand that—then any time at all will be the right time for you.

Peter S. Beagle
Posted in Other Media

Cinema Saturday, 2/25/23

Wrath of Man

Year: 2021
Runtime: 1h 59m
Rated: R

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Nicolas Boukhrief, Éric Besnard, Guy Ritchie

Stars: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Josh Hartnett

Double Feature Fodder:
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

Initial: Guy Ritchie has been hit and miss in the last few years. Wrath of Man‘s trailer made it seem like a pretty basic revenge tale. My husband bit the bullet, watched it, and recommended it.

What Did I Think:
I was still dubious of this movie during the first act, though for a reason I hadn’t anticipated. If Guy Ritchie has a weakness, it seems to be writing American middle class, blue-collar guys. The dialogue in the opening section of this movie, which takes place amid the crews of armored trucks, was really cringey. It was such a relief to shift to the machinations of the criminals, who are generally well-spoken.

The strength of Wrath of Man is its non-linear structure and of course its crisp action scenes. Yes, this is a revenge story, but not one that is straight forward. This isn’t Ritchie’s best effort, but it’s not bad either.

Posted in Female Author, Novel

Reading Notes, 2/23/23

Cover: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Cover: Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
Cover: The Varieties of Scientific Experience


The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

Through my reading of gothic literature, I had kind of come up with the elements that I thought were the most important aspects of the genre. The gothics I’d first read were primarily one location (usually an older building) with knowledge of past (often provided by older servants) being necessary to the plot. With those notions in mind, I never quite understood how Frankenstein or Dracula actually fit in the genre. They seemed too loose, with too much travel. I also didn’t quite understand how Jane Austen fit into any of this despite Northanger Abbey. My problem: I was working with an incomplete framework. I hadn’t read The Mysteries of Udolpho.

I read a lot of pre-19th century literature in college and I can’t think of any that was as much fun as Udolpho. Perhaps, though, some of my enjoyment came from how I can see this book in so many others that have come after it. The travelogues of Dracula? The musings about nature in Frankenstein? The reversals of perceived reputation in Jane Austens’ novels? All of the above, plus poetry and songs riddling the narrative of The Lord of the Rings? All of these things are in The Mysteries of Udolpho. I’m sure other novels of the time had some of these elements too and Radcliffe is probably not the only inspiration for these later authors, but the same fingerprints are all over literature.

And, if the weak hand, that has recorded this tale, by its scenes, beguiled the mourner of one hour of sorrows, or, by its moral taught him to sustain it—the effort, however humble, has not been in vain, nor is the writer unrewarded.

Since I possibly would never have gotten around to reading The Mysteries of Udolpho without putting it on my Classics Club list, this is definitely a win for the challenge.

Short Stories

Deal Me In, week 6:
6❤️ “The Mystery of Dr. Thorvald Sigerson” by Linda Robertson, from Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years. This story proposes that Holmes, in the guise of Thorvald Sigerson, spent some time as an Arctic explorer and while there proved the innocence of an indigenous woman accused of murdering her abusive husband.

Deal Me In, week 7:
7♠️ “Mitch’s Girl” by Carrie Cuinn, from Cuinn’s collection Women and Other Constructs. This is the first pick from this collection, but not the first of Cuinn’s stories that I’ve read. And that’s a good thing because I really didn’t care for this story. It’s not much of a story, really, which was probably my biggest problem with it. Hoping this is the weak tale of the collection.


  • Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan

Challenge Updates

My Challenges


  • Read 20 books that I owned before 1/1/23: 2/20
  • Get my Library Thing “to-read” down to 500: Uh, no movement because I added a book last week.
  • Read 18 books from my Classics Club list: 1/18

Shelf Maintenance

It’s been 7 days since I last acquired a book.