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Bridgerton – what to think? – SPOILERS

I read Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me years and years ago, and loved it. Then I went back and read The Duke and I and despised it. Like rip the book apart at the seams and set it on fire hated it. I hated the marital rape – that’s what it was and flipping gender didn’t change that. I hated the whole true love changes people’s minds about wanting children. Hated it. I think I read a couple of the other Bridgerton books that followed but couldn’t say for sure – this all happened before I started using LibraryThing to track my reading, and I can’t find anything on my old LiveJournal (which is imported here to WordPress and dates back to 2005 o_o).

So I’m maybe not the target audience for Shondaland’s Bridgerton on Netflix. I was iffy about it based on the first 5-10 minutes, but a couple of people in Romancelandia Twitter were saying good things, so…

It works as historical fantasy, emphasis on the fantasy. The costuming and sets and all are…not really accurate but are lovely. The actors playing Daphne and Simon have amazing chemistry, and Simon (played by Rege-Jean Page) is smoking hot, with amazing waistcoats and a voice and a gaze to die for. Lady Danbury’s casting is A+. A bunch of things were added or changed in ways that presumably aid in the visual nature of television storytelling, but which were kind of ~meh~ otherwise. [I’m looking at the change in Anthony’s character, and the added Featherington family subplots.] The director clearly watched earlier Austen adaptations with all the restraint and unresolved sexual tension, and decided to resolve it here. Repeatedly. And leave NOTHING on the cutting room floor.

And I was enjoying the series. Until episode 6. With all of the other things that were changed, why was the marital rape not changed? With an added layer of grossness due to a white character ignoring a stated lack of consent by a Black character. It’s just…ugly. I have mixed feelings about Daphne generally, and about the ignorance she went into marriage with, and the way Simon took advantage of that – he knew she had no idea what he was doing. And his wordplay – cannot have children is not the same as will not – is disingenuous and deceptive at best. But she clearly did what she did intentionally, and didn’t bother to understand why until after the fact.

Part of me wants to go re-read the book, to see if the aftermath is handled better there. Because watching the remainder of episodes, all I could think was that if they were a modern couple they would need so much therapy and to actually talk to each other, but my expectation for an HEA for a historical couple was low. I didn’t really buy Simon’s jump from no children ever to happy to be a dad without some kind of exposition about how he and Daphne talked to each other about how abusive his father was and the damage it did to him as a child. But I don’t have the book and am not inclined to buy a copy since I wanted to set it on fire the first time around.

ETA: one of the added subplots involves a very sympathetic WoC who is wedged into an ugly, semi-villainous position. I felt sorry for her, and thought she deserved better from *everyone* around her, and completely understood the choices she made. I don’t really know what to say about it and defer to readers and watchers of color.

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Recently read

Borrowed the new Nora Roberts novel, Hideaway, from the library. If I was a new NR reader, I probably would have found it engaging and original. But I’m not, having read most of her backlist and most of her romantic suspense. The plot and various elements felt repetitive of earlier books like The Search or Angels Fall or other books. I probably could have let that go – there’s comfort in knowing an author can deliver predictable enjoyment – but one scene early on soured the book for me. The local police (good guy! surfer dude!) violated the constitutional rights of the Bad Guy. Yes, he’s a Bad Guy. But that’s the whole point of constitutional rights: everyone is entitled to them, even when they’ve done bad shit. I get it: he’s not sympathetic, so I shouldn’t mind. No. That’s not okay. I do mind, and reading that casual disregard for rights and implicit approval of abuse by the police makes me side eye NR’s work more than I already do (see my previously expressed – either here or on other social media – about Eve Dallas’s casual disregard for criminal procedure).

Read NR Walker’s Throwing Hearts as well. It was kind of ~meh~. I liked the background romance of the older couple more than that of the narrators, whose conflict/issue felt really forced and unnecessary.

Signed up for Disney+ to get Hamilton; planning on canceling at the end of the month. It was worth the $6.99 for that plus The Mandalorian and some other material. Enjoyed it, particularly the staging, which of course was not evident from the soundtrack. Thought some of the editing choices were odd at times; focusing on single singers sometimes made sense and sometimes cut off the background activity that seemed relevant.

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Despite promises at the gardening store that air plants are practically unkillable, I have killed an air plant. Even though I followed the care instructions faithfully. ūüė¶

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In theory, sports are returning to North America. Given the spikes due to premature reopening, this seems like a bad idea. One quote from an NHL player essentially said that they feel comfortable with the risks because the science says they’ll be okay since they are young, healthy athletes. Um, what science is he talking about? We have 6 months worth of data on recovery, and nothing about longer term impacts on health. The expectation that they won’t get sick because they are in good shape seems deluded to me. As a fan, I’d love for sports to be back, but as a human I want athletes to be able to live healthy lives today and well into the future, and I’m not sure the bubbles and protocols will be enough.

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More of the same

The Downtown Partnership is offering a gift card incentive for a bunch of small, local businesses.¬† The clip from Saturday’s news broadcast includes two of my favorite stalls at the MarketPlace.¬† I’ve ordered from both of them since they started carryout, and also tried a third (carry out cocktails).

Mandatory face coverings for groceries, pharmacies, indoor public venues, began yesterday.¬† I’d already been wearing my DIY t-shirt masks, so it was not a big deal.¬† It remains utterly frustrating to me that runners in my neighborhood (and beyond) are both failing to wear masks and ignoring the idea of social distance.¬† I walked a five mile loop today, and watched dozens of runners hog the sidewalks without making any effort to avoid pedestrians; they seemed to expect that pedestrians should be the ones to make an effort to social distance, not ever themselves.

Watched the rest of Star Trek: Picard.¬† I have to say that if I had not read the prequel book before watching, I would have missed a lot of what was going on.¬† Or maybe I’m able to appreciate it more?¬† There’s a whole history for Raffi and her family, and for the Aggy/Maddox relationship.¬† I’m still fuzzy on the whole Mars-synth debacle, although I feel like perhaps that is explained by Oh and the Tal Shiar as an inside job.

I’m assuming there will be a season two, given the ending.¬† But if not, it finished in an okay place.

Haven’t made any reading progress this week.¬† Reading for pleasure, I mean.¬† None of the TBR shelves appeal at present.¬† I’m #15 on the hold list for the new Robert Reich book at the library, and #40 for the new C.S. Harris book.¬† Tried one book that Amazon’s algorithm suggested, but it failed the sample read by pressing on two hot buttons all at once:¬† the anti-abortion secret baby.¬† One of them would have been enough, but together?¬† Nope.

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Keeping myself entertained

+ Working on a scarf.¬† Just because I like the pattern and it’s easy and kind of mindless.

+ Watched the first episode of Star Trek: Picard.¬† The way it picks up explains the abrupt and somewhat unsatisfactory ending of the ST book I mentioned in an earlier post.¬† One bit early on in the episode felt a bit un-Picard-like, but it sets the scene for the rest of the series, so…

+ Made shortbread with Lady Grey tea and orange peel.¬† Think I’ll add orange extract next time, as I think it could use more citrus. Tomorrow I’ll make turkey-zucchini meatloaf and figure out sides to accompany it.¬† I think the carrots in the vegetable crisper probably need to be used soon, so maybe those with some frozen broccoli.

+ Finally watched Rogue One.¬† I liked it better than any of the most recent trilogy, although I haven’t seen the third one of the trilogy yet.¬† Of course, I’ve had a crush on Diego Luna since Y Tu Mam√° Tambi√©n, so I am perhaps not the most demanding of viewers.

+ Everyone in the office is watching Tiger King, with a virtual happy hour proposed for next Friday to discuss it.¬† I have not watched because it doesn’t really look appealing to me, but I may watch just to participate.

+ Went to the post office to mail a gift to the BIL.  The post office has marked off six foot intervals in masking tape on the floor so people know where to stand.  Did people pay attention?  Nope.  We are literally too stupid to live.

+ Sacrificed a t-shirt to make a do-it-myself mask (without sewing), which felt a little over the top, but I expect at some point to be told that masks outside are mandatory.  And since I like going for walks, I want to be ready.

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Recently read/watched

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch – I enjoyed this a lot, although it created at least as many questions as it answered.¬† The copy editing was poor, which is disappointing but no worse than it has been for the other books of the series.¬† The very ending was pretty ~meh~ to me, but it won’t stop me from reading whatever comes next.

The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King – biography of Fred Rogers.¬† I’m not sure I can emphasize what a formative influence Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was for me as a child.¬† The documentary released earlier this year (not the bio-pic in production) impressed me and made me want to know more about him, and this biography is does not disappoint.¬† I had not realized how influential and formative women were in his life; the women in his family, sure, but the professional women he worked with also.¬† And it has been a relief to read without having Rogers be diminished.¬† Of course he was human and flawed but very much embodied kindness and thoughtfulness toward children in a way that didn’t infantilize them or discount their fears and feelings.

Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women is up next, as is Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad.

 

The Widows movie was good, but possibly not properly marketed.¬† I did not see the twist in the middle coming at all.¬† Now I want to read the book it was based on because I feel like there was backstory and possibly other plot that was edited out of the film for run-time.¬† And also, hey, Chicago, I haven’t seen you in awhile.

The new Lisbeth Salander movie was face-paced and interesting.¬† I have only read the first book of that series, so I can’t critique from an adaptation perspective.¬† It was a thriller with fast cars, some guns, and creepy villains, filmed in a very noir or dour palette.¬† I liked it enough that I may actually go back and try to read the series.¬† Also, Claire Foy as Salander was excellent.¬† One review I read after the fact complained that Salander was too flat and the film wasted her backstory, reducing the plot to Bond-like action.¬† Eh, that is pretty harsh, but also: what’s wrong with having a Bond-like film with a woman as protagonist? Maybe dudes are tired of seeing Bond, but women seldom get to see a female Bond-type, and why must a female Bond-type be more developed than male Bond ever was in the films?

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Setting

How important is setting?  That seems like a foolish question, since setting is a basic element of storytelling.  But I have been thinking about it in the context of how well readers/viewers know the setting in question.  Years ago Nora Roberts* set a book in the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore.  And she got the neighborhood community feel down but the housing market, floor plan of row houses, and sidewalk/parking situation wrong.  They sound like little things but were important elements to the story, so being not quite right jarred me right out of the story.

Re-watching the first episode of Queer as Folk (US) this weekend, the theoretical setting was just so obviously NOT where it was filmed that I wondered if Pittsburghers who watched the series were as jarred as I was by the not-quite-right Baltimore in NR’s book. ¬†Literally, as one building came into view, I thought to myself, oh, they are in Toronto — it was the Gooderham Building on Front Street. ¬†Beyond that, the geography/topography is just not right. ¬†Back when I first watched any of QaF, I’d visited PGH briefly once and had never been to Toronto, so I didn’t notice the location. ¬†Since then I’ve been to Toronto once for WCoH and to Pittsburgh a number of times, which is what made it painfully apparent that they were not filming in PGH.

Does it matter that much? ¬†I don’t know, maybe viewers don’t care, since the economics of film/television production means that things are seldom filmed in the locations they purport to represent in the final product. ¬†But I’m interested to see if there is any attempt at more

*It feels like I’ve picked on NR in the last couple of posts, and I don’t mean to. ¬†But that book and the housing it described was just NOT accurate. ¬†(I wrote an entire post about it at the time, many books ago at this point.

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2016 – year in review

Reading:

I read 33 books or novellas in 2016; that doesn’t count the books I picked up and put back down or returned to the library unread or unfinished, since I may circle back to some of those at some point. ¬†The two best fiction reads were Lois McMaster Bujold’s¬†Penric novellas. Best nonfiction was Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies. ¬†Biggest disappointment was Bujold’s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

Also, I read an excellent original hockey fic on AO3. I really like the writer’s voice and style…but the typos and punctuation abuse make my brain hurt.

I started Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine on 12/31 but have not finished it yet; I think it’ll be one of my favorite reads when it comes time to tally up 2017.

Watched:

  • Fox’s Pitch series (please be renewed?)
  • The Crown
  • GBBO
  • Star Wars (mostly liked it, love General Organa)
  • Jason Bourne (meh)
  • Ghostbusters (loved it)
  • Star Trek (meh)
  • Love & Friendship (loved it)

Theater, Museums, Music:

  • Jan 9 – The Critic and the Real Inspector
  • March 5 – Othello
  • March 26 – 1984
  • May 21 – The Taming of the Shrew
  • Oct 29 – Romeo and Juliet
  • Dec 3 – The Secret Garden
  • The Menil
  • The National Aviary
  • Fort Pitt Museum
  • The Andy Warhol Museum
  • The Frick – the carriages and cars in the garage are amazing, as is the house
  • The Heinz History Center, multiple visits – Toys Exhibit, Pixburgh exhibit, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, glass industry. ¬†The exhibit on slavery is excellent and awful. ¬†As a white person, it was ugly and shame-inducing to walk through. ¬†I cannot imagine how painful it would be for a POC, or even tell whether it would be cathartic or just rage-inducing.
  • ROM (loved the Chihuly exhibit)
  • Casa Loma
  • Bata Shoe Museum
  • AGO
  • Textile Museum
  • Gardiner Museum of Ceramics (loved)
  • Smithsonian National Gallery of Art
  • Garth Brooks & Tricia Yearwood concert (wow, not much music this year)

Sports:

Okay, this category, now that I look at it, is a little excessive. ¬†Sorry, not sorry. ¬†Also, I’m sure I went to at least one more baseball game, but I can’t find the ticket stub or a note on my planner, so.

  • Feb 22 – Coyotes @ Caps
  • Feb 27 – Jets @ Penguins
  • March 11-14 – Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas tournament, love this venue.
  • March 18 – Predators @ Caps
  • March 28 – Blue Jackets @ Caps
  • April 7 – Penguins @ Caps (makeup game for blizzard), WIN!
  • April 16 – Game 2 of the 1st round of the playoffs – NYR @ Penguins, loss
  • April 23 – Game 5 of the 1st round – NYR @Penguins, won the series
  • April 28 – Game 1 of the 2nd round – Penguins @ Caps, lost in OT.
  • May 4 – Game 4 of the 2nd round – Caps @ Penguins (OT win!)
  • May 13 – Game 1 of the ECF – TBL @ Penguins – ouch, lost, Letang got boarded (and knocked out) right in front of me. ¬†It was ugly.
  • June 1 – Game 2 of the SCF – Sharks & Penguins, OT win. ¬†The Goal (actually all the goals) was right in front of me!
  • June 5 – NYY @ Orioles
  • Sept 14 – pre-tournament SWE-EUR
  • Sept 17-29 – World Cup of Hockey tournament; 16 games. ¬†So. Much. Hockey.
  • October 15 – Ducks @ Penguins (win!)
  • Nov 8 – Sharks @ Caps (Sharks win!)
  • Nov 16 – Penguins @ Caps (ugly, ugly loss)
  • Nov 19 – Penguins @ Buffalo (SO loss, man, Flower was so good in the 3rd and OT).
  • Nov 20 – NWHL Pride @ Beauts (posted thoughts/opinions about this over on tumblr)
  • Dec 30 – Three Rivers Classic (consolation game and championship game)
  • Dec 31 – Canadiens at Penguins (OT win!)

Travel:

  • Houston
  • Pittsburgh
  • Buffalo
  • Beach
  • Toronto

Goals/plans for 2017:

  • Drop the Caps tickets, use the money to visit other teams’ arenas
  • Go to at least two more NWHL games this season
  • Go to either Italy, Portugal, or Spain on vacation (in February, maybe?)
  • Read 40 books
  • Make myself post more regularly
  • Find a tutor or conversational group to refresh/relearn the Russian I’ve mostly forgotten

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A little bit of reading

Someone mentioned on social media that they had the new Bujold to read, which made me go see what she has new out.  A Penric novella!  Nice.  It was a quick read, but good, a peek into Penric and Desdemona several years down the road from the last novella.  Bujold does well in a shorter format, I think.

Other than that, the only things I’ve read lately are a re-read and the third book in K.A. Mitchell’s Ready or Not series. ¬†Eh, not the best book of the series. ¬†I didn’t believe either character had any real growth and didn’t believe the HEA at all.

The re-read was of the most recent Kate Daniels book. ¬†Reading it, I’m frustrated because I like Andrews’ voice but find the world-building and character-building to be inconsistent and wobbly. ¬†Also, there are a lot of inconsistencies if you read carefully, and it isn’t clear if it is planned and a function of tight POV via Kate or retconning. ¬†I’d like to think it was a POV function but there are enough sloppy errors or blips in the series that assuming that seems risky. ¬†(Ex: Doolittle has two different first names depending on which book you read; Derek will never howl again we are told, only to have him howl repeatedly; changes in the capacity for post-Shift technology; basic math and time/date/counting errors; etc.)

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I’ve watched the first two episodes of The Crown on Netflix. ¬†Wow, so good.

Also watching Pitch, usually on demand.  Love Ginny and Amelia and the whole cast, really.

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Project-wise, the throw blanket I am working on as a gift is probably not going to be finished in time for Christmas. ¬†I’m not sure if I’ll just give it as an other/odd day gift or wrap a couple of sections of it as a promise to be finished.

But I did finish a scarf to match my awesome new hat, and am about 40% finished with a copy of it for a colleague who admired it and asked if I could make them one. ¬†It’s pretty easy to knock one out, easier than the throw blanket sections, which are less portable and thus less able to be worked on during my commute.

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I went to the Pens-Caps game on Wednesday. ¬†It was a mess. ¬†I decided after attending the San Jose game the week before that I would not be renewing my partial season ticket plan next year, and this game reinforced that decision. I hate the forced patriotism and rampant military hero worship encouraged or forced on and by the crowd. ¬†I find the crowd to be pretty ugly in general, and it’s worse when the Penguins come to town. ¬†Two women behind me spent the whole game saying that wanted Crosby, Malkin, Letang, et al. to be boarded or hit or knocked out of the game, often when none of them were on the ice. ¬†(Note: these were Trump supporters who compared Crosby talking to refs during the disaster of a game with 9 penalties to “protesters” who should “shut up and go back to work”.)

I’m pretty sure they could tell how uncomfortable they were making me, because they asked which Caps player I felt similarly about, a player I hate. ¬†It’s like they wanted me to justify their ugliness. ¬†Here’s the thing: I don’t dislike any Caps player enough to want them to be hospitalized or their career ended by a hit the way they described. ¬†I don’t care* enough about any Capitals player to bother. ¬†There are players I refuse to watch play, for whom I would feel no pity if their stats fell off a cliff and they were waived or were cut¬†(not Capitals players), but but hating professional athletes is as big a waste of time as hating a particular actor or musician. ¬†Just change the channel. ¬†The Capitals’ roster is only relevant to me when they are playing a team I like, which is usually only 9 or 10 times per season between the Penguins, Predators, and Sharks.

*There are players I think are overrated or overpaid or overhyped. ¬†For example, I think Ovechkin is the best pure goal scorer of his generation, but he’s an inveterate diver and lays a lot of late hits that don’t get called. ¬†Orpik hits like a truck but is way overpaid for being the 4th or 5th dman. ¬†Oshie and Tom Wilson remind me (in a not flattering way) of the douchiest frat bros I knew in college. ¬†But do I hate them? ¬†Nah, it’s not worth the emotional energy.

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Reading for July

In addition to the books I mentioned in the last post, I managed to also read Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent. ¬†It is the first of four books (at present) set in a fantasy world that is rather like our Earth in the 19th century but with a different date system, slightly different religion, and with dragons. ¬†The social norms, along with geopolitics and industry, seem to be more or less lifted from Georgian to Victorian England. ¬†On one hand, it was sort of an interesting conceit; other the other hand, it read like the diary of a privileged English woman who was an ignorant and ugly tourist, casually disregarding and stomping on other people’s beliefs, cultures, and ways of life in pursuit of her personal interests. ¬†I finished the first book, but the beginning of the second book irritated me so much that it hit the wall. ¬†The narrator came off as a selfish, self-indulgent twit. ¬†Nope.

On to the next library book, a translation of Patrick Modiano’s In the Cafe of Lost Youth.

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Stopped at Poupon today for lunch and they had an amazing special. ¬†I’m not sure if they would call it a tart or cake or what; it was a single layer cake with amarena cherries baked in and candied orange peel and slivered almonds on top. ¬†It was amazing. ¬†And it seemed simple enough that I could probably make it without ruining it.

They were also preparing for one of the DC farmer’s markets, beautiful puff pastry rectangles that were going to be filled with spinach and asparagus and pesto. ¬†They looked good enough that I regretted not being able to have one for lunch…but not enough for me to schlep into DC on a day off.

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Late to the party, as usual, but I finally saw Ghostbusters. ¬†Look, I vaguely remember seeing the first Ghostbusters as a kid with memories of nothing but the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man;¬†rewatched as an adult, it is Just Bad. ¬†Is this new one going to win Best Screenplay? ¬†Nope, but it made me laugh, and I loved the ladies. ¬†I loved that they relied on each other and defended each other and didn’t expect men to rescue them or solve their problems. ¬†I loved that in their big fight scene, they wore fight-appropriate clothing that wasn’t gratuitously torn or slashed to show skin. ¬†While I appreciated the flipping of the dumb blonde trope to a dumb blond, I just didn’t care about Kevin…mostly because I can never remember which Chris is which and don’t find any of them to be particularly attractive.

In terms of the Chris thing, I have a similar problem with the new Star Trek series. ¬†I just don’t care about Kirk or Spock – I think they are both acted in a terribly wooden fashion and the Vulcan’s bowl cut does him no favors. ¬†Give me more Uhura, more Sulu, more Bones, more of the newly introduced Jaylah, or the curiously missing Carol Marcus.

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Full Disclosure?

Scrolling through the new release post for the week over at Dear Author, I hit one contemporary titled Full Disclosure and my brain made a full stop. ¬†I’m sure it’s a fine book and the title makes sense in the context of whatever the plot is. ¬†But all I can think of is “full and fair disclosure”, which totally kills any kind of romance or sexy vibe that it might have been going. ¬†[Unless maybe you work at the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance. ¬†Which, okay, go you. ¬†But not me.]

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A new comic book and gaming shop opened late last month.  There has been a sign in the window since maybe November announcing that it would open; it took over the premises of what used to be an antiques shop.  I stopped in today to see if they had any of the Rivers of London comics in stock.  Not currently but an edition is coming out in two weeks, so they put me down for a copy.

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I’m almost all the way through binge-watching The West Wing on Netflix. ¬†Man, all the male characters are prone to pedantic asshole behavior and constant disrespect for the judgment and expertise of the female characters. ¬†CJ Cregg is awesome, but she wibbles about men pretty regularly and is lied to and underestimated on the regular by Leo, Josh, Toby, and the president; only Charlie seems exempt. ¬†Donna stays Josh’s secretary way too long and he punishes her professionally because she decided she was qualified to do more than take his lunch orders – after she tried repeatedly to explain to him that she wanted more out of her job/professional life but he ignored it because it was inconvenient. ¬†Dr. Bartlett, who admittedly violated state laws, is punished far more and criticized more than her husband, the one who actually was the public official who failed to disclose his serious, life-threatening illness. ¬†Ugh.

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Afterthought: ¬†I opened a book at random on my Kindle while on the elliptical. ¬†It was Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews, a series whose voice/tone I like but which is riddled with continuity blips and rather poor copy editing IMO. ¬†And a passage struck me in this book: ¬†Evdokia mentions Kate’s mother attending her own mother’s funeral. ¬†Except, wait for it, in the most recent book, Kate is told by her father than her maternal grandmother is alive and in Seattle. ¬†Now, maybe he’s lying. ¬†But the continuity blips have been bad enough through the series that I’m not willing to assume that they intentionally wrote him as lying rather than making another blip…again.

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