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Really good book, mixed TV + life, & cooking - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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October 2nd, 2014

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02:04 am - Really good book, mixed TV + life, & cooking
I just finished an interesting, if somewhat unusually written book that was enjoyable and well worth reading The March North by Graydon Saunders. It's military fantasy, a genre I mostly strenuously avoid, but it is unusually in both the excellent worldbuilding and in being deeply humane - it's set in what is mostly a crapsack world where most kingdoms and occasionally entire continents are ruled by sorcerous darklords who rule by virtue of their vast power - magical talent is common, but extreme magical talent is both very rare and gets nation-shatteringly extreme - there's even a good explanation for why so many sorcerer-kings are deeply unpleasant. However, rather than wallowing in grimdark, as is all too common (and from my PoV, vastly too popular), the novel is set in a genuinely humane and just republic, which was made possible by the development 5 centuries before of a method of harnessing low level and latent magical talent and combining it to great effect, which is used for everything from the military to all manner of public works. Essentially, this is the story of a crapsack world that seems to be getting better (at least locally). The fact that characters are only given gender markers (including pronouns) infrequently, makes for interesting, and entirely non-awkward reading. The only downside of the book is that its only available via Google books (drm-free, but downloading Google books takes non-obvious knowledge of how to do so - hover over the title in your Google Play library, and click on the entirely enigmatic vertical stack of three small squares in the upper right corner of the title that reveals itself to be called "options" and select "Download Epub"). It's also available from Kobo books, but is even less easy to download. That said, it's well worth reading.

(talking about a non-human character to a child) [is X] "a monster, or a weapon?”That gets a look of total affront, and a “people!” response. I nod. “If it can really talk, it’s people.”  There are hundreds of special cases, it’s a continuum, there are things like Halt’s howdah, but that’s the rule you learn when you’re a child.

New TV is a far more mixed bag - Scorpion is entirely dire - the first episode is somewhat fun, if also really shallow and full of truly vast plot holes, the second episode reveals that my guess that its failure condition would be All-about-the genius-man-child-protagonist's-manpain" was proven exceedingly correct - avoid this show.

My verdict is still out on Gotham, the Batman namechecks are fun for comics fans, and it's edging towards moderately good. My initial fear was it would be just another cop-show with occasional Batman backstory references seems unfounded, but it may become too grimdark to watch - I'm somewhat expecting an on-screen hand or finger amputation scene in episode 3 and if I see it, I'm gone for good.

teaotter likes the first episode we've seen of How To Get Away With Murder. I find legal/law school dramas to be inherently dull and uninteresting, but this one is well acted (so far), so it's a maybe. Having seem downloads of the pilots for both The Flash & Constantine, I'm looking forward to The Flash, but unless the premier of Constantine is better than the download (which sometimes happens), I may try episode 2, but expect to turn it off partway through - if the premier is by some means worse than the downloaded version, then I won't even get that far - the download featured some of the most sterotypical, dull, and entirely unsurprising writing and acting I've seen for quite a while.

In any case, life has been busy and fun. The three of got back from 6 days in Oakland visiting our friends lyssabard, Sean, and Bryce, who all recently moved there from the DC area and are finding the West Coast as preferable to the East as I did. Lyssa and I also geeked a great deal about an awesome cookbook I recently acquired, which is basically how to commit acts of molecular gastronomy at home. Tonight, I tried the pressure cooker marinara sauce (done as the bolognese sauce version (ie with ground meat and (in my case cashew) cream. Good, but not awesome, in park because the sauce needed a bit more brightness, I may combine the pineapple maraina variation with the bolognese sauce next time. Also, and more seriously, it has an undesired smoky undertone, because the bottom burned a bit. This was my first attempt at using a pressure cooker for something other than soup, and the previously unnecessary and disregarded by me recommendations to keep the heat as low as possible will definitely be used next time. There are some recipes like making the "perfect" over easy egg by cooking the yolk and white separately that Lyssa and I agreed was far too much trouble for any possible benefit, but pressure cooker chicken broth (cooked for an intimidating 90 minutes in a pressure cooker) look very interesting, so experiments will definitely continue.

If it looks like using a digital temperature controller to turn rice cookers into a sous vide cooker seems to be both affordable ((which at first glance looks likely) and possible for someone with limited electrical skills (at first glance, a far more dubious proposition), I'll also likely also begin experimenting with that.

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 2nd, 2014 02:40 pm (UTC)
My biggest issue with Gotham is that parts of it are a gritty look at what the titular city was like before the Batman showed up, something you usually only get to see for 10-20 minutes in origin stories. But the rest of it is a level of over-the-top that borders on operatic. It doesn't know if it's trying to be a cop drama set in a comic book world or simply a comic book action-adventure story focusing on the cops. (if you get the distinction)
In a nutshell, for example: The show's having trouble reconciling Fish Mooney's scenes with Oswald's, tonally. The latter is a gritty tale of bitter revenge. The former is, well... Adam West Batman-era Eartha Kitt as portrayed by Jessica Rabbit, all femme fatale and over-the-top. It's like two separate shows were produced simultaneously, became aware of each other, and just tried to combine their efforts. I'm willing to give it a couple more episodes to get itself together, but I'm not holding my breath.

I haven't seen the Constantine pilot, but I have heard that after the initial feedback from convention screenings and such they reshot a couple of scenes, recut some other stuff, and they're retooling the show slightly. In particular, after the pilot they're replacing Liv with a character from the comics and one of the changes to the episode involves a new scene where Constantine explains that she won't be working with him after their first adventure.
[User Picture]
Date:October 2nd, 2014 09:47 pm (UTC)
Those seem like they might be fairly major changes to Constantine, I don't know if they'll be an improvement, but I'm more willing to watch the first episode.

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