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and so it goes ~

enough of the vacillating; it's decision time--whether to fish or cut bait. and i came around these last few weeks, cleaned up some dust, thought about the possibility of starting up shop again, but it's a no-go. looks so it looks like this is where the line ends and the snipping begins. for you intrepid few who remain here at lj: it's been a delight to know you through your words and pictures. thank you for your kind final posts to my last few entries.

i loved lj and enjoyed my time here, but the sun sets on all things eventually. write well. be good to one another. post less; get out more.

happy life!

: D
apparently there has been yet more brouhaha at lj (i post from dreamwidth.org in case you didn't realize it). while i have not yet decided to return to any kind of regular blogging, i may quit cross-posting. if you have a dreamwidth account, look me up. otherwise, i think, at long last, this is truly goodbye lj. i'm glad i didn't buy a permanent account when i was tempted. haven't really bothered seeking people out on dreamwidth or plugging into any communities, etc. like i said, i don't know how often i may post or if this too will all just go away.

but enough of the doom and gloom. hope everyone is having a productive sunday. i know i have lots of writing to do.

and on that note, behold: the state of my desk (it's been a long time, hasn't it?).  the "clean space" below is more generally occupied by my tea kettle, so the desk is still pretty cluttered, but it's a good working space. i find i paint better these days using a clipboard and watching movies, so i moved all the art stuff over to the side where the computer sits (at the other desk). the writing area i am trying to keep pretty simple: i have my outline for reference, my notebooks to write in, and an assortment of pens and whatnots. my research books are banned from the desktop except on a need-to-read basis. i find as my hands grow more cripply with arthritis the writing slope is a big help in keeping me from pinching my wrist, which is what i tend to do when i write flat.


Starting off 2012 with Patrick O'Brian

I am amazed at how much time I used to put into blogging. Wish I could say that it explains why I never got anything done, but then what would my current excuse be? At any rate, I am tentatively returning to the blogosphere. Mostly at my Reconstruction website, where I will be cross-nattering endlessly about the Civil War and other 19th Century-related topics, but possibly also here where I can natter about books and movies perhaps.

Last year I endeavored to read Zola's Rougon-Macquar
t series. I got through the first 7 books and half of the 8th, but then had to take a break (L'Assommoir was just too much ~ sooo good, but man, what a depressing book). Late in the year, for reasons I can't explain, I decided I would like to read Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. So I picked up Master and Commander over the Thanksgiving holiday and now I am just shy of halfway through book number 4.   A quick catch-up on my opinion of the series [from my Goodreads account]:

Master and Commander:
Other reviewers have likened O'Brian to Jane Austen ~ but with battleships. I get the comparison.

I can appreciate the wealth of historical detail and the slavish attention to all things nautical, but this first novel is sadly lacking in things like, well, plot, for one. And yes, Stephen and Jack are charming and there are some genuinely wonderful moments, but I felt exasperated waiting for something to happen. How can a book so chock-full of battles be so wanderingly aimless?

I didn't hate this, but neither was I madly in love with it. This was just so-so; impeded by strange choices in the pacing, truly bizarre dialogue at times (and I don't even mean the period vernacular ~ I mean it felt like the writer was paying no attention as to whether a reader could make context out of random snippets), and again, an odd plotlessness in which the setup never pays off and the final battle is just a 50-page denouement.

Post Captain this second book is a stronger effort in my estimation. there appears to be a more cohesive plot (or set of plots, really). Generally I enjoyed it much more than Master and Commander, though it still had its detractors and plenty of aimless boat boat boat blah blah blah kind of stuff that I occasionally skimmed.

Stephen was kind of weird in this one (and getting on my nerves as a result). He comes off very Mary Sue ~ with O'Brian attempting to temper his awesomeness by constantly referring to him as "reptilian" ~ but i don't buy it. I actually enjoyed my time with Jack much more this go round, though the two of them together continue to be pretty awesome. There were numerous interactions that were comic gold.

And Pullings is just adorable. He desperately needs more page time.

HMS Surprise: best so far of the series. Stephen is much less weird and bitchy in this one (perhaps torture humbles him a bit), and it feels so much less all over the place than the previous two; there's an actual plot with some over-arching complications, and an ending satisfying enough that were this the only book O'Brian penned, it would have been just fine. I am almost afraid to be disappointed with the series moving forward, but move forward I shall.

A handful of bits out of this were borrowed to plot the Weir film adaptation. I am grateful that the film didn't bother trying to include either Diana or Stephen's intelligence agent storylines ~ the former I hope to be done with and the latter really feels more like an intrusive (and convenient) plot device. Also, lovesick stephen was mercifully restrained (I thought I would hate it, but it was just right), while lovesick Jack was hilariously adorable.

As was Mr. Pullings, who once again did not receive sufficient page time.

~ * ~

p.s. I realize there is a whole subculture out there of Aubrey/Maturin slash fandom (and had the misfortune of encountering some of it in my trawl for an image for this post). I seriously have to wonder whether people who go there with this series have ever bothered to actually read the bloody thing ~ beh.

Phoenix Comic Con!

This weekend, Here There Be Monsters Press is at the Phoenix Comic Con (booth #666, perhaps appropriately?). If you are in the area and have a chance to stop by, please do!

We're still working on our new book, but this year we have Jack in a trade paperback (collecting the complete 2-issue story into one lovely and highly affordable volume). We will be bringing this along with our new book to San Diego in July.

from LookingLand.com

Nucleus LiveJournal Plugin © Evgeny Lykhin

Gilman and Gore

I'm still taking a break from Zola, but I need to keep reading, so I was looking for some light, trashy fun stuff. Something in my range of interests (which are admittedly narrow). I decided to look for some western pulps, give them a try and came across George Gilman, author of The Edge series, which ran a little over 50 books in the 70s and 80s. Gilman gained notoriety for writing a different kind of western (for his time). His are considered some of the most violent (and graphic) westerns ever written.

Fabulous, I thought. Sounds right up my alley. First, I discovered that the books are a little hard to come by. Pricey when they can be found, and pretty scarce in any kind of bulk sales where you can get more bang for your buck. It doesn't help that Gilman was a British author writing American westerns. Since these have gone out of print, there's been no occasion for them to become fashionable again--not in this country anyway.

I finally find one titled Black Vengeance (book no. 10, pictured). It was just a few bucks and was really hoping to enjoy something, well, edgy. Sadly, I was disappointed.

The book was violent. Very violent. So many heads exploded in this single slim volume of 150 pages that I lost count. Gilman managed to pack enough mayhem and gruesomeness in this story to rival anything on cable TV these days and no one was spared: men, women, children--all ripe for the chopping block. You would think this would be something I would really dig, but I couldn't get into it. Despite being well-written, the characters just weren't very interesting to me (how much character development can you really do between all those exploding heads anyway?). Edge (the title character whose name used to be Josiah Hedges), is an anti-hero in every sense of the word, but strangely un-compelling. A drifter, a murderer, a bounty hunter, etc. I tried to appreciate his cool, silent lone gunman manner, but he kind of lost me at slaughtering a whole household of plantation people (no quarter-style). Ostensibly this is done to liberate the slaves on the premises, but it's also pretty clear that Edge and his band of Yankee guerrillas just like killing. Later he's put in command of the liberated slaves who want to become soldiers (for the purpose of vengeance). Then, after a whole lot of Nat Turner style marauding, he has a falling out with the leader of the ex-slaves and ten years later the two settle their spat on the frontier.

And there's a woman in there somewhere, but she's so boring it's not worth bothering about.

I feel like I ought to give the series another try (maybe I got a dud?). But reviews generally say it's a pretty thin series anyway. And that it covers all the usual tropes--that the only difference being the buckets of blood. Seriously? I would have never guessed that well-written slaughter could be so banal. But I guess anything will lose its luster after 100 pages or so. If I have a chance to have another go with this one, I may take it, but I won't be scouring the bookstores for it.

from LookingLand.com

Nucleus LiveJournal Plugin © Evgeny Lykhin

desk ~ !

i can't believe it's been over a year since i posted a picture of my desk. what does that tell you about my productivity (or lack thereof)? perhaps in fairness i should say that i have been working, but the desk has been a nest of random for so long that i have been despairing of ever getting it under control. the truth is it's definitely been worse than this in the past, but i guess i used to feel that any amount of scattered catastrophe was okay so long as there was some satisfying work going on. currently the state of things is catastrophe and total disorganization.

every weekend for the last several months at least, i have put on my list of things to do: clear desk. and every weekend i manage to not only not clear my desk, but scarcely get anything else done in my avoidance. i have this dream of what i want my desk to look like and what it will take to make it productive, but i'm pretty sure that's just rainbows and unicorns; clearly my working processes is doomed to this kind of constant disorder. and i fall into that trap of: well, if i only just had another bookcase. or: what i really need is one of those desk organizer things with the slots.

i hereby crown myself queen of the procrastinators. even writing this post is mostly just a way of avoiding facing the tasks before me. so many tasks. so little time.

if i can get this blog in some sort of decent shape today, that would be a victory. and, i don't know, maybe actually do some writing? if i were enid blyton, i would have finished ten books since the beginning of the year. looks like i have some catching up to do.


the rabbit hole ~

yeah yeah: i get a new toy and there goes all my attention. try as i might to stay focused and on track with everything i need to get done, i admit i have been rather distracted by all the shiny.

and then there's this: so tempting.....

hopefully this weekend won't be as lost as the last one.

i am still working on setting up a new blog. and i keep meaning to post a review of the last Zola book that i read, L'Assommoir. i've also read a couple of other books in the interim. needed a wee break from Zola. love the series, but it can be heavy and that last book was a lot to digest. so i am reading some trashy fiction as a palate cleanser (about which i shall also report).

otherwise it's a rainy saturday and i am itching to spend money (see what happens when the IRS sends you a check?). i spent the morning antiquing (without luck), but i have also been very naughty browsing eBay and there's plenty of danger there. i'm looking for an antique lap desk. or something like that. because i am nothing if not completely impractical.

and no, i don't see anything schizophrenic about buying an iPad 2 and a 19th century lap desk. same technology, different eras.

: D

lament or rejoice? you decide ~

where to begin?

i have decided to spare you all what could otherwise be the longest film-related blogpost in the history of movie reviewing by restraining myself to nine points on three levels of assessment regarding Robert Redford's The Conspirator (which opened today, and for which i left work early to view). 

so this is what i have to say for now:

The Good
  • honest performances by Robin Wright and Tom Wilkinson. Wright especially didn't embarrass herself despite one or two totally overwrought and absurd moments.
  • some attention to some detail some of the time (at least the gallows were well built).
  • what appears to be an attempt by the screenwriter, et al., to capture, at minimum, the spirit of what's at the heart of any serious study of the conspiracy trial. this is worth something, at least.
The Bad
  • pretty bad performances by everyone aside from Wright and Wilkinson, particularly McAvoy. and even Kevin Kline! wow.
  • a terrible failure to depict filthy malarial Washington DC in 1865 with any degree of accuracy, including very hit-and-miss costuming (why is Aiken dressed as a soldier when he's not one? why aren't the Catholic priests wearing Roman collars? is that a windsor knot in his tie?), some weird casting choices (i love me some Colm Meany, but did they even bother trying to make him look like David Hunter? etc. etc. etc.), and an almost complete disregard for the weather/season/etc. (where's the rain and the heat and the sludge, people? why is everything so clean? nobody smokes in this movie. um, no). i will say : some of this looked so low budget, however, that i am willing to make concessions, which is why this is listed under "bad" instead of "ugly".
  • no inclusion of Paine's gallows testament that Mrs. Surratt was innocent? or the public's sentiment about her execution? really? very odd choices.
The Terribly Ugly
  • perpetuating idiotic myths about Mary Surratt in chains and handcuffs and being treated so awful. shame on everyone involved in the production. and shame on them giving Anna's thank you to Aiken out of her brother's mouth. grrrrrrr. this one really gets me.
  • Aiken: Union do-goody hero. oh dear.
  • last minute reprieve due to Aiken's do-goody heroism??? no, not really: off to the gallows she goes! oh please!  what's even worse is that the way this is depicted in the film robs the truth of the events of their actual drama. why why why rewrite something that was actually pretty dang dramatic (i.e. Anna Surratt begging at Johnson's door, Hancock dashing to the courthouse after Judge Wiley, etc.). oh fer shame.
and now i promised i would stop. there's so much wrong with this movie, it is perhaps not worth getting too wound up about. however dreadful it is, i think its heart was in the right time-zone, at least, and it's leaps and bounds above the dreadful efforts of the past (The Trial of Dr. Mudd and other such abominations).

i want people to see this film because it can generate interest and conversation about important stuff people ought to think about (both past and present). but i know people who do see it will wander away with some of the same confusions and misinformation that has been proliferated for the past 150 (nearly) years. boo on that.

but in many ways, perhaps i ought to be grateful.  the truth remains untold. still. which leaves me a chance yet to tell it.

: D

my mood ~

J.M.W.Turner probably says it all in the picture below. i have been trying to make decisions about blogs and slogs and hogs and other nogs, but my cogs are fulla clogs apparently. and something has got to change, but i am dithering on the edge of the precipices that surround me. i need to take a leap, but i'm not feeling ready for the drop. are we ever ready?

There is a certain relief in change,
even though it be from bad to worse! 
As I have often found in travelling in a stagecoach,
that it is often a comfort to shift one's position,
and be bruised in a new place. 
~ Washington Irving

catfight, 19th-century style ~

last night i began reading the seventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart series (wow ~ can't believe i've made it this far!). the first chapter is already a big improvement over the whole of the last book and sported a fabulous catfight between two women in a public washing house, replete with hair tearing, scratching, rending of garments ~ all you could hope for from a vicious altercation.

the context of this story is pretty grim: poverty, abuse, alcoholism, etc., so i ain't expecting no rainbows out of this one. and while this fight seemed played somewhat comically, i have a sense that the book can only get darker from here on in. it's impossible to fathom the workingclass lives of 19th century people. it's even more impossible to fathom that some of these conditions and situations are every much a part of the day-to-day for modern people as well. despite all of our "progress" there seem to be certain areas in which no matter what kind of assistance or programming is offered, we are making no headway.

there's a cheery thought.

anyhow ~ just checking in for no other reason than to do so. whoever is on and reads this needs to tell me whether i should have pizza or chicken for dinner. i can't decide.

: o p


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