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Get off my lawn

I read a really sweet modern AU fic for Bridgerton, and thought I’d try more, including some set in the time of the books. Uh, no, back back back. Setting aside the nails on a chalkboard screech I hear mentally whenever I see apostrophe + s to signal multiples (no, just no, the plural of Bridgerton is Bridgertons, not Bridgerton’s) and similar, the anachronistic language and utter absence of social conventions makes my brain hurt. A lady in 1814 would not tell her sister that she “had always had her back”. No, ladies and gentlemen did not address each other by first name upon introduction. Sir/Lord/other titles are not interchangeable and have different conventions based on status: squire, baronet, heir to peer, etc. Basic internet research, please?

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Was out of coffee the other day. At the neighborhood store, I saw Cafe Bustelo, which some colleagues swear by. Uh, no, absolutely not to my taste. Had to run down to the store further away for Illy. Apparently I am a coffee snob? Which I never thought would be the case.

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Read Amongst Our Weapons, the new Rivers of London. I want to do a slower re-read. I liked it, but I have questions about some of the set up.

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I have tickets to the game in Pittsburgh on 4/29. Last regular season game. And maybe the last regular season game with Crosby, Malkin, and Letang, since the conventional wisdom is that both 71 and 58 can’t be re-signed and fit under the cap. Do I want to make a sign? I’m not really a sign person. And yet.

I’m off that day. My work calendar is CLEARLY marked. And my boss still scheduled a meeting for 1pm. Can I call in? Uh, sure, but I’ll be driving, so I can listen but can’t take notes, which is always the subtext of his ask.

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On a happier note: TheBiochemist finished the Boston Marathon with one of her best marathon times. \o/ And Mom is visiting Ireland again. I visited the Azores last month; so many people I spoke to were repeat visitors, and some house hunting (hmm).

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Bridgerton S2

I liked it? I liked the inclusion of Southeast Asian characters via Sheffield to Sharma, but I will defer to other whether it was done with sufficient nuance – it didn’t seem offensive to me but how would I know if they’d done something awful? I thought the nod to pre wedding activities and the inclusion of patterns (paisleys) were lovely.

I did not love some of the writing for Edwina Sharma, who was inconsistent about practical marriage vs love match. I also do not love the Penelope developments.

Loved the reflections of P&P adaptations, and to Bollywood’s non-kisses.

Loved the clothes, even if they were not necessarily historically accurate. Admired the ladies’ dresses, lusted for the waistcoats.

Also: worth watching for Adjoa Andoh’s Lady Danbury. Her clothes. Her cane. Her curled lip. This line kills me: “After passion cools and fate intervenes, who else is a woman left with but herself?”

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Oh, fandom, never change

Three Mark Donk/Buzz Flibbet works were posted to AO3 earlier this week. Fandom never ceases to delight me in unexpected ways.

Who are Mark Donk and Buzz Flibbet? Well…Courtesy of hockey Twitter

And they pop up every so often now. This year Evan Rodrigues is the Mark Donk for the Penguins. Last year it was Radim Zohorna. Who knows who’ll be the next Flibbet?

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Year in review – 2021

Well…2021 was another year.

Still working from home. It’s not mandatory, but there’s not much point going in to the office – no one is going in willingly, mostly because they have to either drive and pay to park or brave public transportation, which is a petri dish of colds and flu at the best of times. Right now, we are tentatively going back in March 2022, making two full years of working from home. [HR and senior management have pushed back that date four times now, most recently pre-Omicron variant, so I guess we’ll see.]

Resumed some normal things, pre-Omicron. Numbers are down, compared to 2019 and earlier but are an improvement over most of 2020.

Travel:

  • Road trips (2) to Western PA.
  • Week in WV, spent mostly offline. Utterly delightful.
  • Visit to Houston to cling to The BioChemist – 2020 was only the 3rd Thanksgiving I’ve ever NOT spent with her, so it was nice to resume.
  • Then on to Seattle. In part to go someplace new, and in part to check another team/venue off my hockey bucket list. Two thumbs up both to Climate Pledge Arena and Seattle generally.

Relatively few concerts or sporting events:

  • Game 5 of the PGH-NYI series in May (ugh, 2OT, what WAS that, Jarry?!?).
  • Opening night for the Penguins (sorry, not sorry, Flower)
  • The Hot Mess that was the PGH-MN game (lost in a shoot out after leading for the entire game).
  • Coyotes vs. Capitals with The BioChemist and The Chemist.
  • Penguins vs. Kraken in Seattle.
  • Frank Turner acoustic – two live shows.
  • John Oliver at the Kennedy Center.

Reading: LibraryThing says I read 37 books this year, including a few DNFs.

Once again, I was reminded that affectionate memories of books read in my younger years should probably be left as memories. Marion Chesney’s Six Sisters series has not aged well. Nora Roberts’ Waiting for Nick likewise has not aged well for me. Despite knowing better, I keep borrowing JD Robb books from the library, then having to refrain from ripping them in half in rage (since they aren’t my books) due to the horrendous criminal procedure and blatant civil rights violations.

On a happier note, I finally read the MurderBot series and loved it, it was the best fiction of the year for me, with Black Water Sister as a runner up. Best nonfiction was a toss up between Game Misconduct and The Cult of We.

Watched:

  • New season/series of The Expanse (loved)
  • Ted Lasso (I have Opinions about some of the story lines)
  • GBBO – new series and a re-watch of the older series on Netflix before the disappeared on 1/1/22. [Dear Paul Hollywood, no one from the country that reveres sticky toffee pudding and treacle tart has any room to criticize USian pies as being sickly sweet.]

Really enjoyed Seattle and would absolutely go back. Despite spending a lot of time there, I feel like there were stores and nooks at Pike Place Market that I missed. And I could have spent much more time at the Chihuly museum. Had great meals at Betty and The Pink Door. Enjoyed the underground tour of Pioneer Square. Am still trying to figure out how to afford and where to put a chandelier seen at a glassblowing collective. Did a glassblowing experience at Kobo Art Garden that has prompted me to sign up for lessons locally.

A few photos below. Sorry, but I couldn’t figure out how to do the “hide and read more if you want to” using WP’s newish UI.

Not my favorite overall as glass art but I love the reflection of the Space Needle.
Iconic. Totally worth visiting.
Results of the glassblowing experience I signed up for.
The Space Needle, taken as I climbed up Queen Anne.

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Recent reads

The Other Half by Jordan Castillo Price – part of the ongoing PsyCops series. This installment absolutely does not stand alone, and the plot was sort of slow to develop. I like Victor Bayne as narrator, and his voice is what kept me reading. So it was fine, but not a good starting place for anyone new to the series.

Loving Sports When They Don’t Love You Back by Jessica Luther and Kavitha Davidson. The title pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? I read this in small chunks because some of it is pretty ugly. But it is worth reading for the Serena Williams chapter alone. Would very much recommend to any sports fan.

Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong. New installment of the Rockton/Yukon series. It was kind of convoluted, plot-wise. I’m kind of done with pure/strict procedurals, even when there is no big police force and everyone involved is a dubious character to begin with.

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev. DNF. I borrowed this because it was mentioned on Twitter as a sort of modern Persuasion AU with non-White characters. I just didn’t find any of the characters particularly sympathetic or interesting, so DNF.

We Own This City by Justin Fenton. True crime narrative about Baltimore’s profoundly corrupt Gun Trace Task Force. I have a lot of tangential opinions about policing and Baltimore and qualified immunity that impact my perspective of this book. But I appreciated how Fenton laid out what was going on with the GTTF at the same time and after Freddie Gray’s death, and the epilogue from COVID times that touches on Baltimore activists’ handling of protests for Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Also: the irony of the mention of the city’s lead prosecutor as community crime fighter back then; news broke on Friday that she and her husband (head of the city counsel) are being investigated by federal authorities related to campaign finance abuse or other financial issues.

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Last week was the anniversary of a years working from home. It was not a happy anniversary. Everyone at work is stressed out, and work is only increasing. Almost everyone is stressed at home as well.

I’ve been thinking hard about where I want to be physically in the next few years. Home wise, I mean. Because my location is convenient in a lot of ways, I love my neighborhood, and it is affordable, but I’m struggling with the community that is my building. Little things, like people not cleaning up after pets or themselves in common areas, are beginning to really wear on my patience. So do I want to stay here? If I don’t, where to I want to be? And given the general success of telework, is the location as going to be as limited as it was in the past? I don’t know yet. More to come.

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Wrapping up 2020

I’ve done a summary post of the books I read, places I visited, etc., for the last couple of years. 2020 has very little to recommend for itself looking back. The early months were pretty good, but later not so much.

Travel:

  • Terceira in February (highly recommend)
  • Pittsburgh for hockey (first week of March, just pre-lockdown)
  • Antietam/western MD for a weekend in July
  • Cape Cod for an isolated and quiet trip in September

Music:

  • Online only – several Frank Turner shows, not much else.

Movies/TV:

  • Can’t remember if I saw anything in the theater early on.
  • Signed up briefly for Disney+ in order to see Hamilton and the first season of The Mandalorian.
  • A lot of Netflix, including Schitt’s Creek (meh), Derry Girls (like it), and Bridgerton (not sure I’d bother with future seasons/series).
  • Currently watching the new season of The Expanse on Amazon. I love Chrisjen Avasarala as a character.

Reading:

I finished 33 books. The highlights were Megan Whalen Turner’s The Return of the King and Ben Aaronovitch’s False Value. There are two former autobuy authors who finally tipped over the edge for me to not even being library borrows, and a lot of ~meh~ mixed in. I tried a couple of self-published works from writers I’ve found via fandom(s); sometimes the original fic works for me and sometimes not, which is perhaps a function of the canon and backstory in fandom that requires more work to establish in original fiction. I’ve been letting myself read Obama’s memoir in bits and pieces, as a comfort, so I started in 2020 but it will finish as a 2021 read. (It’ll be a highlight, I’m pretty sure.)

Books I’m looking forward to in 2021:

  • Anna K. by Jenny Lee, a YA retelling of Anna Karenina. I haven’t read Anna Karenina since high school and my memory of it is such that I’m curious to read a YA adaptation.
  • We Own This City by Justin Fenton. Non-fiction account of the Baltimore City Police Gun Trace Task Force, whose members have been federally indicted for a variety of crimes, including racketeering, drug dealing, and illegal searches and seizures.
  • The new installment in Kelley Armstrong’s Rockton Yukon series.
  • What Abigail Did That Summer, a novella in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch.

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Mish mash of things

Today, this morning, was such a relief. I don’t remember ever feeling so emotional about an inauguration before, for better or for ill. Part of it was celebration over the first Black Asian woman to be Vice President. But part of it was specific to the political atmosphere in the US right now.

I mentioned this to my sister and hadn’t really expressed it anywhere else, but I was very concerned about violence at the inauguration today. (I’m sure a lot of people were.) Yes, law enforcement seemed to be taking security more seriously, but in theory they should have been taking security seriously on 1/6 and failed. The thing that brought home to me the degree of security concern was the cancellation of all MARC trains from Sunday through Wednesday. I’ve lived in the metro area and commuted to DC through five inaugurations now. For prior inaugurations, service ran as usual or on a holiday schedule, or in 2009 on a special schedule that required specific tickets for specific departures, which is not how they operate generally. (I’ve always wondered if the inaugural trips, or at least in 2009, were money makers for a segment of public transportation that is always under threat of budget cuts.) Cancellation of four consecutive days of service is incredibly unusual and just flagged the concern about otherwise uncontrolled or untracked movement into the District.

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I’m trying to figure out how to refer to VP Kamala Harris when I speak or text about her. Kamala is a distinctive name, so is referring to her by that alone like Serena or Beyonce? A mark of respect for women who need no other identifier? Or is it disrespectful and diminishing, first-naming a powerful woman in a way that the last VP didn’t get named and the way white (male) politicians don’t get named?

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Every so often I’m reminded of an old (2010?) RWA presentation by Lauren Willig about throwing readers out of stories because of what they think they know. She was talking about the use of cameras in the early 19th century. There were cameras, or the ideas behind them, just not the same way modern readers think of them. But mentioning them in a Regency novel may jar readers out of the story, so writers need to weigh their choices.

Anyway, I read a sentence in a novel that described an antebellum mansion built in Atlanta in the early 20th century. Cue the mental record screech. Yes, antebellum means pre-war. But in the US and in the South, antebellum is generally a reference to pre-Civil War. Could the author have been referring to pre-WWII? Sure. But context matters for readers, and I had to re-read the sentence and then ????? before deciding to move on and finish reading.

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I used to get up at 5am to go to the gym before work. Since I’ve been teleworking and my commute is merely to my office nook or kitchen table, I’ve been going later. I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to the 5am gym schedule if/when we return to office hours.

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I pushed my Thx travel plans to March, and now am wondering if I should push them again. I’m pretty far down on the list of priorities for the vaccine, so I doubt I’ll have it by then. Which is fine – better that more vulnerable people have it first. I’m just a little stir crazy again.

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More nostalgia reads

I read Marion Chesney’s Seven Sister Regency novels as a teen. I devoured them, along with the backlists of Jean Plaidy, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt. My recent Bridgerton disappointment made me wonder if any of the Regency or historical fiction/romance books I remember fondly would stand up to a re-read by a much different JMC than teen-JMC. The answer, mostly, is that the Chesney books do not. Sadly. I’m not sure if I want to try any of the others. Some books are better left as fond, faded memories.

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Radio silence

You’d think that working from home and limiting travel and movement and socializing would make me more likely to blog. I’m spending time online, mostly doom-scrolling, and haven’t had the attention span to read much or to write anything other than gibberish. Or even just gibberish.

On the reading front, I managed to finish two books and one novella. One of the books was a sort of hate read, which is weird but there you go.

The Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. This reads as the wrap up of the series, and does a pretty good job of showing Eugenides as Attolis and annux, but also still the embodiment of the god of thieves when needed.

Masquerade in Lodi by Lois McMaster Bujold. Another entry in the Penric series, but this one earlier in the timeline. Enjoyable, but now that I’ve noticed how very Miles-like Penric’s adventures and personality are, it seems derivative despite the very different setting.

Shadows in Death by JD Robb. This was the hate read. Robb’s style flows well and the world building is familiar. I’m just disgusted by the disregard for civil rights and criminal procedure. Frankly, the excusing of Roarke’s criminal past seems less and less acceptable the longer the series stretches on, though not necessarily out of place with the idea of him being a billionaire. Restrains self from a written rant about how billionaires become billionaires in generally unsavory ways. Why do I keep borrowing these from the library? Also, I have Thoughts about the fictional NYPSD as successor to current day NYPD, with its terrible warts and union, but this is not the place for them. [Wow, apparently this series makes me want to say a lot about social issues and economics, which is maybe not what the author would have expected. ]

I’m currently reading Loving Sports When They Don’t Love You Back, which is very readable and speaks to me as a fan with qualms about the health effects and inequality I see in my favorite sports. Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is waiting for me via library hold, and a copy of the first volume of Barack Obama’s memoirs is sitting on my coffee table, waiting its turn.

I haven’t managed to watch much new other than the new series of the Great British Bake Off and Trust (FX). Oh, wait, I finally watched Schitt’s Creek. I…did not love it as much as other people seem to. I never really got rid of the feeling that the Rose family felt better than the locals, who seemed to never grow past being cliches mostly. And the character of Moira Rose, with her affectations, grated on my nerves terribly. I did appreciate the growth of Alexis, and that Stevie got to try new things outside of the town. I don’t know. I could see the character arcs and themes, I just didn’t really care for the Roses getting their HEAs or their storylines wrapped up.

I’m keeping up with the Portuguese lessons on Duolingo and via the children’s language workbooks I found online. Someday I’ll be able to visit Portugal again, and I want to be slightly less useless when I do.

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dusts off blog

Not much going on in terms of reading published work lately. Read the Aaronovitch Waterstone’s short story compilation, Tales from the Folly, but not much else. I keep starting and stopping, and lack an attention span.

I’ve watched a fair amount of hockey the last few weeks. My team lost early, so I’m not invested in the teams remaining (other than my Western conference backup) and mostly cheering against teams – there are a couple of match-ups right now where I’d like for there to be some way for both teams to lose 😛

Watched The Old Guard a week or so after it came out, and have since consumed an excessive amount of AO3 material. There’s a crazy amount of analysis of the canon compared to history, as well as fiction. I haven’t picked up the source material (graphic novels) despite liking Rucka’s writing (Queen and Country!), because I really don’t care for the style of the art. Also, it feels like Rucka did not do a great deal of research or at least hasn’t written the comics to reflect it, and I’d rather not break my brain on bad/inaccurate history.

The B&N nearest me has announced that it is closing at the end of next week. I am not hugely surprised. They were *very* dependent on summer/tourist foot traffic, which is way, way down, and the space is huge and difficult to maintain. I’ll be sorry to see it go, but not really impacted. Maybe ten years ago, I visited on a weekly basis, but as it shifted more to games and novelties and gifts, and the fiction sections (other than YA) shrank and were moved around, I had less reason to visit to the point that I haven’t been since December. They almost never had anything I wanted in stock – I could order online for pickup there in a week, which sort of defeated the purpose, because if I could order it online, why wouldn’t I just have it delivered to my home?

Work has been exhausting in a way that it never has been before. I’m going to the beach in a couple of weeks, and cannot wait.

Also, since we are now teleworking until at least December, I now have magenta highlights/streaks in my hair. Because why not?

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