Tag Archives: stuff to watch

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

Leave a comment

Filed under miscellanea, movies, Read or seen, travel

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.)

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under miscellanea

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book related

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.]

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under miscellanea

The Martian

I saw The Martian on Friday.  It was excellent.  I’m not very sciency, so I checked with The Biochemist, who says that it was pretty good (even Neil Degrasse Tyson approved), which makes me even more impressed.

And today I realized that I bought a copy of the ebook a while back when it was on sale at Amazon.  I’ve just started it and really like it so far.  \o/

2 Comments

Filed under Book related

Fandom things unrelated to books – cranky post

I’ve been watching The West Wing on Netflix lately.  I was late to the show, didn’t start watching it until the third season.  And then I ended up missing most of the last season.  But I loved C.J. Cregg – my competence kink, let me show you it.  I will watch anything with Allison Janney in it, anything.  Now that I’m rewatching it from the beginning, I still love CJ but I find a lot of the other characters considerably less sympathetic than they were on first watch.  Part of it is perspective/age and experience, and another part of it is watching several episodes at a time and seeing repetitive behavior that irritates.

How many times did Toby undermine CJ?  How many times did he talk down to or underestimate women?  All the damn time.  The episode when Felicity Huffman’s character burns him hard?  He so deserved it; he underestimated her and treated her like she was stupid.  Why?  Mostly because she was a woman and he seemed to feel like it was okay to condescend to her (and to blow off CJ at the same time).

Sam’s call girl friend – the president promises that she’ll get admitted to whatever bar she wants.  Uh, that’s not really the way bar admissions work.  Moral turpitude is often grounds to deny admission.

Anna Deavere Smith as Nancy McNally is awesome.

But do not get me started on the political appointee/operative attitude toward government employees.  The contempt is not even veiled.  Which I guess is only to be expected since in my experience, the contempt that rank and file government employees feel toward Congress and elected officials and their appointees is reciprocal.

Also on a fan-ish note, I’m struggling with my enjoyment of professional hockey.  The NHL is problematic, as much as any other professional sports league, although they (and a lot of fans) seem to think otherwise. It’s mostly white bro-culture that’s homogenous, racist, and sexist (spare me the “hockey moms! hockey fights cancer!” PR program; try again when Ice Girls are either gone or get to wear exactly the same clothes as guys shoveling ice).  It has domestic violence, assault, and substance abuse problems that the league prefers to pretend do not exist.  I have always been aware of this and acknowledge that being a fan is problematic (to put it mildly).  But this summer has really been awful:  the deportation voluntary departure of Slava Voynov, the settlement of a civil assault case filed by a former nanny against Mike Ribeiro, drug charges against Jared Stoll and Mike Richard, the drunk driving and leaving the scene by Ryan O’Reilly, and pending rape investigation of Patrick Kane are just the things we know about.  What other stuff has been deemed small time and swept under the rug by the NHL or the teams?

The Blackhawks and Predators have been pretty tone deaf to how bad this looks to outsiders and to female fans in particular.  The league’s indifference has been infuriating.

My favorite team is currently not under the microscope for similar off-ice activities; I have no illusions that it always has been so or that it will always remain so.  I paid for my season mini-plan before the Kane allegations and the NHL’s most frustrating indifference surfaced.  The share of ticket revenue that goes to the league is already gone and there’s no way to get it back.  Only one of the games I have tickets to involves any of the teams involved above (although I also have no illusions about the possibility of equally awful but unreported behavior by players on any other teams).  I’m not sure what to do.  Make an equal donation to either Turn Around or House of Ruth?  Sell my tickets and donate the proceeds?

I’ve got a letter half-written to the NHL (like they’ll actually read it?) but I don’t think they’ll care or change their radio silence. Why bother unless/until fans who are revolted by this actually hurt their bottom line?

Tangent:  the CWHL announced a collaboration with the NWHL and NHL.  I’m very curious about the timing of it, since the NHL has basically ignored women’s hockey and the CWHL for as long as it’s existed.  Now it’s time to get some good lady-PR?  How convenient.

2 Comments

Filed under miscellanea

Documentary: Red Army

A week or so ago, Slava Fetisov was interviewed in the pre-game or intermission of a Red Wings game; I can’t recall if it was an NHLN broadcast game or NBCSN.  It was to promote the documentary, Red Army.  I missed the full interview, mostly because I tend to tune out during pre-game and intermission bloviating.  (Seriously, Mike Milbury, Don Cherry, and others need to stop talking.)  But I was reminded this past weekend as I checked out listings at my local independent theater.  Still showing Oscar Shorts and Birdman – nope – but also Red Army.

The title probably gives a hint about the material, yes?  It’s the name of the Soviet Army but was also the name of the army’s elite hockey team.  The documentary centers around Viacheslav (Slava) Fetisov, defenseman and captain of the Red Army hockey team.  It also covers the development of hockey in the Soviet Union, competition with the NHL, and the transition of Russian hockey players to the NHL following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In some ways, the film is heavy-handed and unoriginal:  do viewers need to be spoon-fed tales of how hard life was in the Soviet Union post World War II?  Possibly not, especially in the way the director/narrator did the voice-over as he talks to Fetisov.  On the other hand, there is a lot of Russian hockey history packed into the documentary that I was unaware of.  I’m looking for books on Anatoly Tarasov now.  And, dear godlings, the skating of the Russian team was gorgeous.  (I love beautiful skate work and passing, and would be happy if fighting and boarding disappeared from NHL hockey forever.)

Fetisov is an interesting interview/subject; he more or less ignores the interviewer, busy on his phone, until he wants to talk, and then he talks around some uncomfortable things.  By the end, the Minister of Sport appointment and photo opportunities with Putin kind of explain how he responded sometimes.  Of course, he was open about some really uncomfortable topics, like how betrayed he felt by his defense partner, Kasatonov, when he quit because the Ministry would not let him play in the US after promising publicly that they would let him.

The interviewees include Victor Tretiak, as well as Kasatonov, Krutov, and others.  Borrowed footage shows up from a variety of sources, with some amazing clips of kids being trained in hockey camps, etc.  Young(er) Lou Lamoriello has a brief appearance, and the announcing of Doc Emrick can be heard at one point 🙂  And once again the pronunciation of Russian last names and the mangling by North American announcers pains me.  Really, is it that hard to get the emphasis right?  Fet-EE-sov, not FET-i-sov.

All in all, I’d say that Red Army is worth seeing if you are a fan of ice hockey or if you are interested in mid-to-late 20th century politics and history in general.

From a purely personal perspective, I found the selection of the few recent Russian draftees odd:  Ilya Kovalchuk, first overall pick in 2001, but currently retired from the NHL and playing in the KHL; Alex Ovechkin, another first pick who is shown negatively in the documentary in terms of PR; and Nail Yakupov, another first pick who is really struggling in the NHL.  No mention of Pavel Datsyuk, who has ridiculous hands and speed, two Stanley Cup rings, and a boat-load of awards.  No mention of Evgeni Malkin, second overall pick behind Ovechkin, with a Stanley Cup ring to go with the Conn Smythe, Calder, Hart, Art Ross, and Ted Lindsay awards.  But then again, maybe the point being made was that perhaps Russian players would be better off playing in Russia, where they’d be more respected?  I don’t know.

Leave a comment

Filed under Read or seen, russian