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That time again, folks—chime in here or at your own journal. I have no fun pictures or links—but there is TV for once.

What I’m Reading

The Far Side of the World, Patrick O’Brian (Aubrey #10) (audiobook). Almost finished with it, too. Some truly crazy shit happens in this one, almost none of which made it into the movie (for obvious reasons, mostly). There are a surprising number of comic episodes (surprising--see what I did there, in a Jack-like way ;)), which appear to be just POB flexing his writing chops, which are considerable. I’m not complaining; the whole thing is a delight. This is the one where, like Keats, they all declaim upon the delights of first reading Chapman's Homer. There is also a sailor named Macbeth.

When I started listening to these things, I couldn’t believe there were 21. Now, I can’t believe there are only 21. They seem to be dominating my year.

I haven’t cracked the spine of a print book since I finished the Kate Atkinson below. Busy and unpleasant week so far, sadly.

What I Just Finished

Treason’s Harbour, Patrick O’Brian (Aubreyad #9) (audiobook). Nothing to say about that I didn’t say last week. I liked this one, and was sorry to see Jack and Stephen leave the Mediterranean, even if they weren’t.

Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson. I liked this (witness the fact that I made it through all 500+ pages, unlike 80% of the books I start)—and I absolutely recommend it, especially as a beach or plane novel, or for a book club.

cut for length, not spoilers )

What I’m Reading Next

Dunno. Life After Life made me want to read more about the Blitz, so I have Sarah Waters’s Night Watch on hold at the library—but I’ve tried to read it before and found it hard going. I’ve read good reviews of The Woman Upstairs, so want to give that a try, too.

TV!

Now that you can stream Top of the Lake on Netflix, I feel I should make a proper rec for it. Watch it, if you can face the sexual violence—it’s very, very good. In the end, it’s harsh, but not dark, if that makes sense, with much more faith in human resilience and agency than lots of things I’ve watched lately. The acting is superb, and it’s an interesting meditation on the problem of justice outside the law. And, like I said a few weeks ago, for a show that is so centrally about rape, it’s very sex positive, with a broader representation of the shapes and practices of desire than, again, you’re likely to see elsewhere.

I also saw all of Broadchurch, which I also recommend, if you have a chance. The plot was so similar to Top of the Lake it was almost confusing. Of the two, however, Broadchurch was by far the more conservative and the more depressing. I’ve already ranted to [personal profile] thirdbird about the finale, so I’ll spare you, but up until the penultimate episode, it was damn fine TV.

I’m not sure I’m even going to say anything about the season/series finale of Southland (tragic? Inevitable?), but I’d love to hear what you thought of it, if you watched it.

What should I watch now? I seem to be out of miniseries.

Caught up!

Apr. 15th, 2013 10:34 am
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I watched too much TV yesterday, when I should have been doing more remunerative things. But, since I did, I thought I’d seize this rare moment of being caught up with four (4!) shows.

Okay, I am caught up with Southland, and...I kind of wish I wasn’t. Or, maybe I wish I’d been spoiled for the latest episode (5.9) before I watched it. spoilers )

I am also caught up with two mystery miniseries—just because I totally can’t wait to find out what happens next/who did it. Top of the Lake and Broadchurch are both variations on the old Twin Peaks formula of “dead child in a tiny community that is not as bucolic as it seems; outside detective (with demons of their own) arrives to solve the case." You've seen the formula many times—but these shows do it well.

Top of the Lake. There’s this moment in Patrick O’Brian’s Post Captain when, Jack Aubrey asks a young girl who's in a ship that has been taken by the French, "I hope I see you well. Quite well?" and the narrator points out that what he really means is "no too much raped?"

So, okay, that’s not a question you’d want to ask any of the female characters in Top of the Lake. ‘Cause you’d get some pretty explicit answers. The show has maybe the harshest worldview I’ve seen on TV—no one is trustworthy, violence is around every bend.

There are a bunch of reasons to watch it, though. 1) Elizabeth Moss is astonishingly good—strong, smart, vulnerable, violent, complicated, sexy. The other acting—particularly by Peter Mullan—is excellent as well. 2) The New Zealand scenery is as spectacular as you’d expect. The human scenery is also amazing: the show is probably worth watching for the tattoos alone. 3) Aside from the preoccupation with rape (or along with it?), the show’s take on sexuality is really interesting. You see a lot of middle-aged people, with realistically middle-aged bodies, having sex. This never happens on TV.

Another thing about Top of the Lake is that it makes the ongoing family angst of Broadchurch seem fluffy by comparison. This is the ITV series with the Dr. Who actors—David Tennant and Arthur Darvill—and a whole bunch of actors you’ve seen before somewhere. It’s total crack: everyone is alternately suspicious and sympathetic, and the seaside landscape shimmers endlessly. The last two episodes have been a little draggy (montages, slow motion walks, etc.)—but who am I kidding? I’d watch these guys stare moodily into the sea forever.

I am also caught up on Grimm, and I don’t have much to say about it, except that much as I like Juliette and want her and Nick to get together again, the Nick-Monroe domesticity is endlessly pleasing (plaid flannel bathrobe!) and I can’t believe there aren’t a million fics about it.
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There is too much to watch on TV! Some things have already been regulated to the status of “okay, I’ll watch it with the boys if they feel like it after dinner” (sadly, this seems to mean that H50 and Elementary and Arrow are duking it out with Dr. Who, Alphas and Psych).

Here’s what’s rising above that at the moment (idiosyncratic, I admit):

Last Resort:

Read more... )

Merlin: Yeah, who would’ve thought that Merlin would have such staying power? But I continue to really enjoy it on both the cheesy (shirtless knights, anyone?) and emotional fronts (stories of good leaders are my number one bullet proof kink).

Read more... )

I blame tumblr for this

SPN )

Homeland: I’m not sure what’s going to happen now that the “is he or isn’t he?” question has been answered. But I don’t care, because I’m still mesmerized by Carrie, Saul and Brody (only halfway through 2x02 on this one)

I have also, thanks to [personal profile] garryowen’s persuasive abilities, been watching Wallander. I watched the third, most recent, series first, because it was streaming on PBS (yes, this is one of the simple pleasures of sad souls like me that Mitt Romney would take away). I usually associate Kenneth Branagh with bombast, but he’s lovely and restrained and vastly appealing in this—middle-aged and poignant and tough and smart (and a hot mess). Also: Sweden is beautiful. I’m making my way through S1 now, which is grimmer and shot with a lot of surprise!close-ups and surprise!blurriness which bug me, but still well worth watching, if you like your procedurals with a lot of angst.

And that's more than enough!
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So, I broke my Yom Kippur technology/media fast by watching H50 3x01 with the boys. In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I never saw most of the S2 finale; I think I got the gist, but it may be that I missed some of the subtleties of this episode.

spoilers )

I like to think there’s a world where Doris McGarrett and Kelly Burkhardt from Grimm get together for some unsweetened ice tea and a few diet-breaking cookies.

Let’s call it the Land of Over-used Plot Devices.

the poignant dreams of ninja moms )

Next: Danny and Monroe meet in a bar and discuss appropriate forms of address for your BFF’s mother when she comes back from the dead. “At least she isn’t sworn to kill you and all of your kind,” says Monroe. “I’m not too sure about that,” says Danny.
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Monday afternoon, when we were still exhausted from travel, the boys and I saw The Bourne Legacy, which we enjoyed very much, though I may have to go back and see it without small squirmy persons who I have to take to the bathroom during crucial character bits.

more, w/ very minor spoilers )

Son #2 and I watched Grimm 2x01 and enjoyed it, though there was so much new story arc dumpage I think I might have to go back and take notes. Monroe, as usual, was the best part, with his running commentary on Nick’s maternal reunion.

I finally finished Generation Kill, both series and audiobook (with the addition of reading Wright’s 2008 afterward in the print book).

my usual grumpiness about such things )

I finished both seasons of The Killing and have only about 15 minutes to go in Blackout. I may have exhausted all TV dramas about corrupt mayors in extremely rainy cities. If you have any suggestions, though, please let me know!

hope everyone has a great weekend!
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You know what I missed after not watching House for several years? Hugh Laurie's face, that's what.

It's not just that he does such glorious reaction shots, it's that his reactions make you believe he's really watching and listening--and seeing and hearing more than the average bear. And when House is reacting to Wilson? Well, it doesn't get any better than that. I mean, all Holmeses love their Watsons, but the way House loves Wilson is something else.

Ahem. Feel free to discuss 8x19 and 8x20, just know that I know nothing about what happened before these episodes.

Also: Running Hot II is simmering along nicely. Click the link for prompts for things like:

Inception
Whitechapel
Farscape
Downton Abbey
Warrior (2011)
Pirates! Band of Misfits
Phineas and Ferb
And many more!

The master list of this year's fills is here and the AO3 collection for both years is here
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So, I have watched the first four episodes of season two of Game of Thrones and I have learned two things:

1. HBO likes boobs

2. Richard Madden somehow upped his hotness quotient greatly since season one. Or maybe everyone just looks hotter with a giant CGI wolf following them around.

I think that might be it for me, though. I don't entirely blame HBO. This is just the point--the rise of the Theon Greyjoy plot arc--at which I lost interest in the books. The gratuitous sour grimness perhaps? The increasing ratio of torture scenes? YMMV, obviously.

I am also up to date with Grimm, though I haven't posted on it for a while. I clicked on the Grimm tag on tumblr the other day, and was dismayed to find if not shipping wars, at least shipping skirmishes. I think you all know how I feel about that.

but let me just say (spoilers) )

And I think I've mentioned how much I've been enjoying Awake? It's like someone turned Freud's essay on "Mourning and Melancholia" into a TV series.

mild spoilers )
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The boys got Men in Black out of the library. I’d forgotten how wonderful Tommy Lee Jones is in it.



The River

spoilers through 1x07 )

Grimm 1x14

spoilers )

Let me also rec you a lovely m/m romance novel, Bonds of Earth. This is straight-to-the-vein h/c id!fic.

more )

Also relevant to your interests: another great Casey-centric (with Casey/Walsh friendship) Unusuals fic, this one by [livejournal.com profile] topaz119

Happy weekend, folks!
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Usually, when I have a free Sunday morning, I try to get up reasonably early (~7:30) and go to Mysore. But this weekend I practiced the yoga pose of sleep. I was out latish Sat. night at a work-related dinner, and then up even later finishing my [livejournal.com profile] purimgifts fic, and so didn’t go to sleep until 1:30. I woke up at 7:30 or so, and thought screw this. And I didn’t wake up again until 10:30. Can’t remember the last time I did that. It might have been in high school.

Anyway, 28 hours of freedom is not so much when you spend 9 sleeping and 4 at a work dinner, so I hardly caught up at all on TV. I did watch, out of curiosity, the House episode in which Jeremy Renner plays a dissolute rock singer. And enjoyed it very much—I forgot how much I like S4 House and I don’t think I’d seen that one before.

Nor did I realize that this image, that you see all the time on the interwebz, if from House of all things!




Also Grimm
spoilers )

Have two book recs, though (both about doctors, as it turns out).

My Own Country, by Abraham Verghese.

cut for length )

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
cut for length )

Even though I'm going to be out of town from basically March 23rd to April 1, I signed up for remix again. Possibly stupidly.
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Actually, probably more like blonde Mack trucks.

I was supposed to be in New York City this morning for some interesting work-related stuff, but I had to cancel due to ongoing family circumstances. So, yeah, feeling a little sorry for myself, but, hey, at least TV has been consoling.

I know that this journal has been inhabited mostly by pocket commandos of late, but hey, let’s hear it for the big blond guys:

Southland 4x04



I don’t think it’s a spoiler for the episode to say that I have never loved John Cooper more.

slightly more spoilery )

Whitechapel 3x03

How about a guy who looks like this from behind.



And this from the front:



spoilers )

Feel free to post pics of either big blonde dudes or pocket commandos in comments *g*
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Very brief thoughts on three episodes I think I'd like to see again.

Merlin 4x12 )

Grimm 1x07 )

Homeland finale )
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Did anything happen in H50 2x06 except Steve getting in the ring? 'Cause I saw him put that mouth guard in, and start hopping up and down like a bunny, and then I started thinking about this:



And wondering if Steve would get anybody in an unbreakable thigh lock and force them to tap out like Joel Edgerton does repeatedly in the movie. And then I started wondering what would happen if Steve had to fight either Tommy or Brendan. And. Yeah....I kinda lost track.

I guess other things happened? The boys were pleased to see Kono with a rifle.

Homeland 1x04 spoilers )
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I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up the pace of TV watching I set myself at the beginning of the season :( Here's all I managed to see last week. (+ Psych, which I watch now because my boys love it so much they need me to share the joy. Not that I mind--it always has a good line or two).

Merlin 4x04 )

Downton Abbey 2x05 )

Alright--hoping to see Homeland and H50 in the next few days! And DA 2x06.
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H50 2x05 )

Homeland 1x03

Someone else is watching this, right? right? If not, maybe you should try it; it is pretty fucking good. If someone is, can they please talk to me about the whole "Semper Fidelis" moment and how awesome Damian Lewis is? And about one of the most disturbing, not-sexy sex scenes I've ever seen on TV?

(these are not spoilers: Damian Lewis is consistently awesome and the psycho-sexual stuff is consistently disturbing, though not gratuitous or unrealistic, I don't think)
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I seem to have hit a patch of work/life busyness. So much busyness I don't have time to participate in [livejournal.com profile] mad_server's wonderful Again, but with More Colds meme, or my most favorite thing, the Five Acts Meme going on this week. :( Too busy to have watched the latest episodes of Downton Abbey, Person of Interest or Homeland yet. :( :(

I got no sleep over the weekend and I'm sitting here trying to convince myself that going running will make me feel less like crap.

BUT--there are some lovely things!

The talented and generous [livejournal.com profile] twasadark recorded a podfic of my Jewish!Lestrade series for the Fall Fandom Free-For-All. I've never been podfic'd before, and I'm tickled pink! She does an absolutely lovely job with it, and it's a wild experience to listen to someone else reading your own words aloud.

Here's the link -- thank you, bb!

Merlin 4x03

spoilers ahoy )

Oh, and thanks to tumblr:


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I have watched too much TV in the past week, y'all. This really can’t go on. But, since I did, I might as well give you a brief report:

I have already shared my rant thoughts about Downton Abbey 2x03. Kudos to Julian Fellowes for pinpointing the exact moment in history when it became impossible to sympathize with the British ruling class (Evelyn Waugh notwithstanding).

But I also watched Merlin 4x01, which I loved with an unembarrassed love.

Merlin 4x01 )

H50 2x03 )

And two new shows, b/c 2011 seems to be the year of creepy stalkers as heroes. Both shows are obsessed, in an classically Foucauldian way, with the way in which the sheer quantity of information we are able to gather about other people only makes us that much more anxious about the things we can’t know—the people who live, and the things that go on, off the grid and under the radar and behind locked doors.

I’ve now watched two episodes of Person of Interest, and the second (1x02) is much better than the first. Jim Cavaziel and Michael Emerson even managed some chilly, lizard-voiced banter with each other, and I approve of the show’s penchant for rendering Cavaziel bloody and battered in an early scene and leaving him that way through the rest of the episode. I actually found the plot pretty interesting and coherent, and I think with just a little more character development the show could spawn some fic. It would be great for xovers with other shows set in NYC. What if the machine spat out Elizabeth Burke’s social security number? Mike Ross’s? What would they make of Reese lumbering around in the shadows.

I watched the first episode of Showtime’s Homeland, and, really, this is the best of the lot. It has a kind of Old Spice cast (“take a look at your cast”—“now look at our cast”—“now look back at your cast”)--Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Mandy Patinkin)--and a creepy Manchurian Candidate style plot: Lewis is a POW who’s found in Iraq after eight years of captivity; Danes is the CIA analyst who thinks he’s been turned; Baccarin is his wife and Patinkin is her mentor.

Homeland 1x01 spoilers and warnings )

Still listening to Regeneration, and it is just as unrelentingly poignant as I remember. It’s been twenty years since I first read it, and I am now much closer in age to Rivers, the psychiatrist, than I am to the young soldiers he treats, and that has made a re-listen really interesting. It’s also made me want to read other novels that take psychiatrists/psychologists as their protagonists—any suggestions?
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Long post is long—sorry!

So, I listened to all 24 hours of Wolf Hall and I loved every minute of it. Mostly I listened in the car (I drive a lot—mostly 10-15 minute trips from pillar to post) but some while I was running.

(and so, strangely, the novel was good for my fitness level, between my new Vibram five fingers, which look like this:



And kind of make me resemble this:



But make running less painful for me than it ever has been before (though, sadly, no faster)—anyway, between the shoes and the narrative, I actually wanted to run!)

It’s a kind of strange experience to listen to narrative as you run, though. The novel has some very sad parts, and I happened to listen to those as I was running during the last heat of the summer. So there I was slogging along in my blue shoes, pouring sweat and crying. I’ve been listening to Regeneration for the past few days, and I’m sure my face is fixed in a permanent sympathetic grimace.

I’m an aural person at the best of times, and I think in some ways it’s easier for me to process and remember books I hear than books I read. Also, of course, listening is slower. So I found that I had a greater awareness of the novel’s technical achievements than I think I would have done if I’d read (all 600 pp. of) it.

Which of course my book group had not interest in talking about , so I’m just going to go on about it for a minute now, feel free to scroll by.

rambling about Wolf Hall )

So then I wrote a little Downton Abbey snippet last week about WWI war wounds. And that made me want to re-read Pat Barker’s Regeneration. But, things being as they are, that means re-listening. Anyway, the novel completely holds up (it came out in 1991), though I expect it wouldn’t be everyone’s first choice for what to listen to in the car. It may, however, have spoiled my enjoyment of Downton Abbey. Because really, talk about two different perspectives about what was going on in the north of England in 1916! In Regeneration, women in service are telling off their employers right and left and going to work in the munitions factories—just for example.

spoilers for Downton Abbey 2x03 )
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Okay, I know everyone is eagerly anticipating the return of Hawaii Five-O tonight (and no one more than my six-year-old, who is Steve McGarrett’s biggest fanbody), but I have two words for y’all: Downton Abbey.

Which is back, and as glorious as ever.



Downton Abbey 2x01--don’t click if you are waiting for PBS to air it in 2012 )

Dr. Who 6x11: cut because even though I like it very much DW falls into the category of things I fail to have the proper reverence for )

I will probably watch H50 tomorrow, when I can share the joy with my six-year-old. The fandom is so big now, and so intense, that it all makes me a bit nervous—everyone seems to have so much riding on it….

Oh, and happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

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