Showing posts from 2023

Bookshot #166: The Corrections

I honestly don't know how to feel about this. Also, I'm not entirely sure where we got this book from- but it's been sitting on one of our bookshelves for a while now and when I was in need of a fiction adventure, I decided to pick it up and give it a go and that's what I'm left with: I honestly don't know how to feel about this book. It's got the character details of Empire Falls , but the post-modernist surrealism of Gravity's Rainbow with a touch of Philip Roth's commentary on the state of American life and society in the spirit of American Pastoral . It manages to feel like all of these things and very much its own thing all at the same time, which is a strangely impressive feat for a single novel to accomplish, but somehow Franzen does it. The story of the Lambert Family opens with Enid and Alfred. They still live in the Midwestern town of St. Jude in their house that has seen better days. Enid wants to start having some fun in her retirement,

Squawk Box: The Diplomat/Citadel

During the back half of our week in the UK we rented a cottage down in Somerset and used it as a base to go visit various relatives and enjoy the countryside-- but we also wanted to enjoy our cottage a little bit as well, so we checked out the Netflix one evening, found The Diplomat and decided to give it a go. We ended up wrapping up the first season when we got back to the States because it was one of those shows that you just couldn't stop watching. I had no idea what to expect going in-- the previews made it seem like a sexy thriller type of a situation which I guess it kind of is, but it falls closer to the spiky/dramedy/political thriller end of the spectrum with a nice scoop of 'my, every main character is an attractive, sexy person'  than a straight up spiky/sexy thriller. The show begins with tensions high between the US and Iran and a British aircraft carrier is attacked in the Persian Gulf, resulting in the death of 41 sailors. Expecting to be assigned to Afghani

Star Trek Picard (Season 3) --A Review

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Star Trek fan. I don't own a uniform and have yet to attend any conventions, but of the big science fiction franchises that have stood the test of time, Trek is probably the nearest and dearest to my heart. I've written about it before and I'll write about it again: I do believe that the current moment of Trek is probably the best the franchise has seen in decades. There is an embarrassment of riches for Trek fans these days and it's awesome, I'm soaking it all up and loving every single minute of it.  I have no time for fan gatekeeping or toxic fan culture, my criteria is simple: is it entertaining? For the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek starting in 2016 and lasting well into 2017, I watched every episode of Star Trek ever made. (I modeled my post titles after Wagner's The Ring Cycle, because well, it felt that epic- so here , here , here , and here you go if you want my full thoughts on the franchise.)  Although many peop

The Future of the U

So, I'm a bit late to this particular party- since the Reddit Post in question is about a month old now, but I read it again and I decided that it was worth reacting to, because, despite the deep doomerism that infuses the entire post, there is a kernel of truth to be considered there: what is the future of the University? First of all, go read the Reddit post and come back. I'll give you a minute or two to do that. Got that done? Okay, let's talk. We've got to pull back our view and focus on higher education in general. In the nearly fifteen years I've been perched in my little corner of higher education, I've been hearing about the great coming educational apocalypse and it has yet to materialize. This doesn't mean that there aren't very legitimate reasons for concern in the years ahead. I think it's important right out of the gate that we harsh the narrative about higher education a bit- college costs have, in fact, been dropping for the past dec

Bookshot #165: The Obelisk Gate

I was going to read something else and then circle back around to this series at a later date, but I was at the library randomly and decided I just couldn't stomach the size of Sanderson's Oathbringer in person (I've read the other two volumes on Kindle, so I just... didn't know- though really, I should have) so I went with The Obelisk Gate instead and I'm glad I did. A worthy sequel to the first volume of N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Earth Trilogy, The Obelisk Gate picks up where the events of the first book left off-- but with Schaffa, Essun's former Guardian who awakens underwater in the immediate aftermath of Essun's devastating attack during the end of the first book. He's about to die when the mysterious entity that gives him and the other Guardians their powers are allowed to take over his body for a brief period. He survives, though suffers brain damage and profound memory loss, leaving him unable to remember his past as a Guardian. He's r

Random Song: Jet

Somewhere, back in the many days of my misspent youth when burned CDs were as numerous as one-dollar bills in a strip club, I acquired a copy of the Best of Paul McCartney and Wings. No idea where it came from. No idea if I borrowed the CD from someone to burn it, but somehow, someway, I got this CD and honestly, it's a pretty awesome CD.  First, let's dispense with the obvious one: "Live and Let Die" is excellent, and no, GNR did not do a better version. Knock that shit off right now. But you've also got ' Band On The Run ', ' Mull of Kintyre ', and ' Maybe I'm Amazed ' before you get into songs like ' Listen To What The Man Said '. And then, there's 'Jet.' The song itself works. It rocks pretty hard. It soars pretty far. You get the feeling that you're racing through the sky in an actual jet if you want to flog the metaphor a bit.  But then you actually listen to the lyrics: Jet, jet, jet I can almost remembe

Netflix & Chill #101-102: Top Gun: Maverick and Sully

I don't know why I got away from watching movies, but for some reason I did- but even I was shocked to find out that I hadn't posted a Netflix & Chill since the archive went up on November 16th, 2021. Once I saw that, it felt like it was well past time to bring it back, so with a double feature, let's talk about Top Gun: Maverick (we had been meaning to see this one for a while, but finally got around to it) and Sully (TikTok does this thing where they post clips of movies and after a while, when you see enough of them, you just sort of throw up your hands and say "Fine, damn it, I'll watch the whole movie." Sully is the second movie I've dug up and watched purely because I got tired of seeing it in bits on TikTok.) (drumroll, movie fanfare, etc.) Top Gun: Maverick Set 30 years after the events of the first movie, Captain Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is still a test pilot and still just a captain. His tendency towards insubordinati

Bookshot #164: Red Seas Under Red Skies

The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence heads into its second volume with Red Seas Under Red Skies and while the characters are engaging and roguish charming as they were in the first volume ( The Lies of Locke Lamora ) the structure is similar enough to the first book that I hope we see a bit of a change-up in the next volume otherwise this series might risk becoming somewhat formulaic if it goes the distance and we get the full seven volumes that Scott Lynch is apparently planning.  We'll get to the potential structural issues in a minute- let's talk plot first. Red Seas Under Red Skies picks up two years after the end of The Lies of Locke Lamora -- Locke and Jean Tannen have fled Camorr and created new identities for themselves in the island city of Tal Verrar as professional gamblers in a casino known as the Sinspire. The place is run by Requin and his disfigured lover Selendri and they have a strict policy of killing anyone caught cheating, no matter their social rank. Of cours

10 For 2023: First Quarter Update

So, I decided to do something a little different for New Year's Resolutions this year. Instead of starting 2024 with a list of things that make me go, "Oh yeah, I forgot I planned that" I wanted to increase my personal accountability a little bit by tracking my progress throughout the year, so I'll post quarterly updates so I (and you, dear reader) can see how I'm going on my goals for the year. At the end of the first quarter of 2023, this is where I'm at:  1. Big Writing Goal for the Year: Get Book 4 into the draft format by the end of the year. I'm currently working my way through Chapter 5 and I'm sitting at 25,744 words. It's been challenging so far: I'm sticking to a single POV for the first time in a book, I'm writing well outside my usual genre preferences so far, and writing consistently and well is hard, y'all. But enough is enough-- time to light this candle and git 'er done. Update: Currently I'm sitting at 40,999 w

Squawk Box: True Detective Season 1/National Treasure: Edge of History

With the return of HBO Max to our streaming menu and the Missus' continuing obsession with the dark and twisty crime drama, after she caught up with The Bodyguard over on Netflix, I suggested we give True Detective a go on HBO Max, so we plunged headlong into the first season. We haven't gone back for the subsequent seasons yet because I think we got distracted by something else- possibly the new season of Working Moms and then we tripped and fell into Ozark and now we're... I don't know what we're doing now, to be completely honest.  We did get through Season One, however.  The season focuses on Lousiana State Police Detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson.) Seventeen years ago, they investigated the murder of the prostitute Dora Lange and seemed to be on the verge of connecting to several unsolved murders and crimes and seemed to have solved the case. The stress and strain of the case impacted both men very differently: Rust

Let's Talk About Books, Baby

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I feel like the last sane person in the asylum some days, but occasionally, there are little glimpses of sanity that peek through the white noise of the internet outrage machine and there was nothing more heartening that the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the news that the works of Roald Dahl were edited to "make them more acceptable to modern readers." It's hard to be completely repulsed by the idea since the author's estate did sign off on the idea, but at the same time, as someone who writes and hopes (if I'm very lucky) to be a published author one day, the idea of someone changing my words decades after I'm dead is frankly gross. Dahl wasn't opposed to editing his own works: the Oompa Loompas were originally from Africa and not orange (I'm sure you can guess what color they were) and if authors change their own work, I've got no problem with that. (J.K. Rowling sort of making Dumbledore

Bookshot #163: Hero of Two Worlds

 If I was being a good podcast listener, I would have purchased this book- but happily, I get a pass on this one because I purchased Mike Duncan's first book ( The Storm Before The Storm ) and thus, don't feel too bad about using an Audible credit to download his latest- a biography of the Marquis de Lafayette, Hero of Two Worlds. As always with audiobooks, I've got to touch on the narration- at least briefly: it's Mike Duncan. He did the History of Rome, and he's wrapping up Revolutions (both of which are must-listen podcasts even if you're not into history, the latter more so than the former, imo.) So this is a man who is practiced in the art of narration and he doesn't miss a beat with this book. If you like how he sounds on his podcast, you'll have no problems with his narration of the book. This brings us to the book itself: I didn't know much about Lafayette going into this book- other than what I saw in Hamilton , if I'm being totally hon