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the island of conclusions

Alfies and Alveys

the island of conclusions

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Alfies and Alveys

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Happy Halloween! It’s been a busy couple of weeks since I last posted.

On the 19th, I ran my second half-marathon. I trained much harder this year and…finished a whopping 5 minutes faster. A fast runner, I am not. But I felt good about it, and had fun—it was a beautiful day in my hometown, I saw friends cheering along the way, and, heck, anytime I run any distance at all, I’m surprised. (Me: Well, no matter what happens, I enjoyed the training; R: Enjoyed? You loved the training!; Me: Yeah, I did.)

Then last weekend, we went to Colorado to see Son #1. CO was as gorgeous as ever, and son #1 seems to be doing well, better than last year, which is excellent, but a bit bittersweet, since I miss him a lot. (The boys and I had the most fun going to this old-fashioned pinball arcade , “Where it’s always 1978.” Along with the pinball, they had ping pong, pool, and, best of all, a giant Connect Four set and a giant Jenga set. Still, the traveling, and seeing friends and family so intensely is…intense.

And thinking about Yuletide. Assignments went out yesterday, and while mine isn’t all that exciting, it doesn’t look that difficult, either. I also snagged one of the initial pinch hits, from a fandom I’d been eyeing anyway. I need to spend some time reviewing the sources for both, though.

What I’m Reading

Nothing in print right now, but I’m listening to The Fever, by Megan Abbott, because I read this great review article about it, and the library had an audiobook copy. It’s compelling, but a little…garish? hyperbolic? The subject can’t help but hover on the edge of the ridiculous, and this book sometimes teeters over. Plus, high school has clearly gotten worse since I was a teenager. The level of sexual shame is WAY higher than it was in the 80s—but maybe that’s just the book? The social media frenzy is well done, though.

I’m also listening to, but have gotten distracted from, the fourth Twelve Houses book, Reader and Raelynx

What I Just Finished

Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie. [from my goodreads review] For me, this was one of those books that is redeemed by the last thirty pages. I loved Ancillary Justice, and was very much looking forward to this sequel, but the surprising power of the first book only came through at the very end of this one. In retrospect, I realized that what made AJ so engaging (for me) was the way it was structured around two intense relationships that were rendered unfamiliar and oblique by the fascinating world Leckie constructs. But both those relationships are sidelined in the sequel, and nothing really takes their place. The worldbuilding is still really interesting, Leckie’s style is still great, and Breq's POV is still unusual and compellining, but the political allegory is anvilicious and somewhat boring, and there isn't much of a plot to hold things together (though I did like all the talk of tea sets others complained about on goodreads). None of this means I won't read the next installment, though!

Euphoria, by Lily King (audiobook). [from my goodreads review] . Ostensibly about the sexual habits of interwar anthropologists (fictional versions of Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, Gregory Bateson, Ruth Benedict, et. al.), but the euphoria of the title is distinctly intellectual, rather than physical. Which is to say: the best novel about an intellectual woman I've read for a long time. I thought the ending was a bit of a cop-out, especially in light of the real lives it riffs on, but most of the novel is intense and engaging. It's not mentioned into the blurbs for the book, but Nell Stone/Margaret Mead's affair with Ruth Benedict/Helen Benjamin is a real presence in the novel--making it more of a love square than a love triangle. I really recommend this one.

Dark Moon Defender, Sharon Shinn (audiobook). As enjoyable as the first two!

What I’m Reading Next

I’m trying to find time to start Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests, and I’m curious about Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings, which I have out from the library. But my parents are visiting this weekend, so who knows.


So, is anyone else watching Kingdom, the Direct TV show about MMA fighters, starring Frank Grillo as Alvey Kulina? I’ve watched the first three episodes, and while it’s a little clichéd/overblown, the actors are giving it 110% (and the actors include Grillo, Jonathan Tucker and Nick Jonas). The naked lady stuff disappeared after the pilot, and now the show is at pains to show that women are training at the gym, too, and the main lady, played by Kiele Sanchez, can take care of herself, thank you very much. But if you want to watch men all over each other, this is your show (and by all over each other, I mean, along with the MMA fighting, injecting each other with elicit substances, and throwing darts at each other in fun) It has a nice sense of place, too, though I have no idea if this is what Venice, CA is actually like.

And then there’s Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons on Peaky Blinders S2, doing one of his cardiganed thug turns as a Jewish breadmaking gangster (do the baggy clothes, slump and facial hair muffle his charisma, or do they just amplify it?). I’m a week behind, but so far I’ve been really enjoying watching the show get its Godfather on, even introducing a Michael Corleone character—Polly’s long lost son, who’s entering the criminal life with a kind of steely watchfulness that would make Al Pacino proud.

I’m a week behind with Homeland, too. I’m enjoying it okay, though Carrie is the worst, most unbelievable Station Chief, ever. She’s a great agent—but leadership skills? People management? Not so much.

Happy Halloween, folks! Have a great time if you’re participating!
  • I expect they will put Kingdom on DVD. Direct TV seems very proud of it, and has ordered another season already. (but I can send you a flash drive if you're interested--pm me).

    And thanks! It was really fun, in a painful kind of way, and I was glad to feel more in control/less despairing in the last few miles, this year.
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