3. Other Things Media Consumption

I sat, I watched, I peeled things.

I did lots more viewing than anything else the last couple of weeks. The final garden harvest came in, herbs needed to be cut for drying, and I had  a bushel+  of apples to process from weekend Wisconsin field trips.(Grilled cheeses! All the apples! WINESAP apples! WOO!)


Fire with Fire and Trial by Fire.  Yes, only two. These are Big Books, so they took a while to chew through. Plus they’re wordy books and it’s a new author, so it took time to  get up to speed on the presentation. So. What were they?  Interstellar exploration SF. Good stuff.

Reminds me strongly of Gordon Dickson and David Brin with a shake of David Weber and a garnish of mid-career Heinlein on the side. Contrasts strongly and thus complements the Expanse series, which dealt with a lot of similar themes. Complex conspiracy-laden plot, thoughtful premises, plenty of action, excellent characters (in archetypal, comfortably familiar ways) but the bottom line is: Too Much Explication For My Taste ™ It’s a style thing. Mileage on this typical science fiction feature varies wildly from reader to reader.

Me? I am losing more tolerance for the convention of having characters explain things more every year. These books avoid all the usual pitfalls, but there’s still SO MUCH TALKING ABOUT THINGS.  I resorted to skimming over much of the detailed, (tho’ accurate, gloriously accurate) scientific underpinnings that were thrown at the reader every damned time a page turned.  It’s all show not tell, so that’s good, but it’s showing by telling, if that makes sense, and it’s evidently no longer my flavor of tea. Another thing that’s an annoys-me-thing accepted in futurism? So many aspects of daily life are ‘ported unchanged from the present day to stories taking place 200 years in the future with planetary colonization, interstellar flight and so on.

I like these books vety much,  I’m starting #3, and I’ll keep reading the series because I have bonded with the main characters and am a sucker for good heroic adventures, but… I also eat peanut butter & jelly on white bread with potato chips stuck in. Doesn’t mean that’s for everybody. I would recommend these to anyone who enjoys cultural-meetings SF, alien race stories and space-based exploration tales, but don’t expect the glorious out-of-ALL-the-boxes style choices of the Expanse books or you’ll be disappointed.


Seasons have begun for Madame Secretary, Lucifer, NCIS, and…that’s it so far. All are impressing me with the new-season plot foundations.

My only new addition to the roster so far is Designated Survivor, which I am liking more than I expected.


London Has Fallen. I feel I might’ve watched it already, but it made zero impression on my memory if so. And it made me wince a lot watching it this time. All the messages I hate about protagonists being excused villainous acts because they’re “heroes?” Yeah. This.

5th Wave. Oh, the emotions. Voiceover angst, even. The first 10%+ of the movie? ANGSTY END-OF-WORLD PROLOGUE IN VOICEOVER with a scoop of awful science. (Avian flu is not, for the record, NOT the most deadly virus ever. <eye roll>)  As for the actual plot once that started? As stale as sampling a can of Pringles someone opened up last year. I think I’ll go read Legacy of Ashes on Wattpad again. I like my post-apocalypse alien parasite invader story MUCH more than I liked this one.

10 Cloverfield Lane. A closed-room mystery? A creepy trapped by crazies horror flick? A post-apocalypse psychological thriller? An alien invasion movie? Maybe it’s all of them?  What a cluttered, meandering, stray-thread tangled mess of a plot. I LOVED it, except for the drawn-out action chase that didn’t need to be nearly that long or that ‘spody. Hollywood excess for the lose.

The Danish Girl. Beautiful. Tough material to handle, directed and acted wonderfully.  Painful to watch sometimes, but well worth it.

Lilo & Stitch. Because I needed happy tears after Danish Girl.

And the tangible result of all the watching:  banana bread, three paper grocery bags of peppermint and one of lemon balm drying,  two gallon bags full of dehydrated apples, and six quarts of sauce in the freezer along with 3 quarts of stemmed/seeded chilis & jalapenos from the garden.

Mmm, autumn.

3. Other Things Media Consumption

Hibernation Fun

The week was dreary and rainy and cool, so indoor work & play took precedence over most other things. Here be the entertainments of the moment:


Lady Bridget’s Diary, Maya Rodale. Cottony, fluffy, and brain-free.

Trial by Fire by Dr. Charles E. Gannon, who I met through Wordfire Press booth at WorldCon. Conversing with him about Science Things and Culture Stuff was one of the many high points of my con. So far the book is the high point of my wee, and I have two more to enjoy after it.


The Miss Fisher Mysteries. The 20’s costumes! The 20’s sets! The snappy dialogue! The smoldering tension between Miss Fisher and Inspector Robinson! The locations I recognized! Social Commentary! ALL-CAPS SWOONING EXCITEMENT.
Ahem. High recommend, unless you’re looking for convoluted mysteries. These are all classic character-driven whodunnits with locked rooms, evil villains & dramatic reveals.

Marvel’s Luke Cage (as opposed to someone else’s Luke Cage? I dunno.)  Base impression: gritty noir. The violence was bloody, on a par with Daredevil.  The story had glorious depth and was filled to the brim with delights. (The music. Oh! The music was purely wonderful.)
I could ask for villains who don’t quote scripture as they commit cold-hearted, evil acts, and I could wish for less anti-science bullshit, because those tropes are hella awful, but…but…could not ask for a better hero. BULLETPROOF BLACK MAN IN A HOODIE.

They totally had me there. Toss in a muchly-female-cast of unique and identifiable characters, all presented without forced  “Why They’re Female” backstories,  add smashing good writing and acting, and  I’m willing to swallow the bitter annoyance  of the “scientists” who spout off idiotic canards, misconceptions, and moronic gibberish ten minutes with Google could have prevented.

I’ll swallow it, but it still tastes disgusting. Equating scientific method with unthinking devotion to rules and procedures is as dangerous as it is fallacious.  You want more anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers? Because this is how you get anti-vaxxers and flat earthers.
(why yes, this is a red-button temper topic for me. What tipped you off?)


Noah. Heh. Hrrrgggle. Heeheeheeheeheehee. So badness. Such wrong. Swords and sandals epic meets 21st century action aesthetic with a generous CGI budget. I had to watch it because Russell Crowe, but even his pugnacious scowl couldn’t keep me from giggling.

All the Rest of the Stuff

  • Gave this blog its first annual housecleaning (I erased 100+ random graphics I’d collected and never used, re-organized menus, went through tags and categories, did some planning, blah, blah, boring blah)
  • The usual Daily-Weekly-Monthly Commitments
  • Baked cookies, made applesauce, pork roast & cole slaw, wrote up a spice purchasing wish-list, and generally had fun in my kitchen.
  • Scheduled two book promotions and bought ad space with the year’s ebook “profits”
  • brought in rosemary pots for the winter and cut a bunch of peppermint to dry.
  • Polished up a bunch of draft posts  on writing/philosophy/advice/world-building. I have material scheduled twice a week nearly to the end of the year. Huzzah for authoring.

That’s all the sharables for now.

1. Storysculpting Media Consumption

Long Time No Lists.

TL;DR: If a post is categorized as Other Things, it will be free of any practical writing/authoring/work-related material, and you can plan your reading or avoidance accordingly.

I had been writing in two blogs, one for personal-me and one for professional author-me, but it turns out I’m less plural than I thought. Starting with this post I’ll lumping all of me onto one big messy blog. So to speak. On with the week’s show & tell.

Six weeks since I tallied up my media consumption. Six weeks! My blogging time went to news of convention travels and authoring accomplishments, gripes about various illnesses,  and a lot of etc. Life has slowed with the turn of the seasons, and thanks to the technological wonders of library due slips & a Netflix activity profile, I can bring the record up to date.

Bookses, my precious!

Most of my recent reading fell under the heading “Fluffy Romantic Fantasies of a British History that Never Was.” All these books are delicious mental cotton candy: pretty to look at, easy on the emotions, quick to finish, and dissolving in memory as quickly as flavored sugar melts on the tongue.

A Gift for Guile / Alissa Johnson
The Knave of Hearts/ Elizabeth Boyle
The Untamed Earl / Valerie Bowman
The Spinster’s Guide to Scandalous Behavior / Jennifer McQuiston
Only Beloved /Mary Balogh
An Invitation to Seduction /Lorraine Heath
Once a Scoundrel /Candace Hern
How to Treat a Lady /Karen Hawkins
The Wicked Duke /Madeline Hunter
Just Wicked Enough/Lorraine Heath
Lord of Wicked Intentions /Lorraine Heath
I Thee Wed /Celeste Bradley
How the Duke Was Won /Lauren Bell
Heir to the Duke /Jane Ashford

The two books that weren’t that kind of treat were salty, urban fantasies:
Fire Touched / Patricia Briggs
The Curse of the Tenth Grave/Darynda Jones

Moving Pictures:

My summer blockbusters tally this year is a quarter of what it usually is. A lot of movies didn’t pass my threshold for “is this worth half a day’s time plus the hassle of the drive plus major money for tickets?” Suicide Squad, Sausage Party, Mechanic:Resurrection, Ben Hur, War Dogs, Pete’s Dragon–I’ll catch them on disc or streaming. Kubo & The Two Strings is the only one I’m sad I missed. Stupid rhinovirus.

First, the feature movies I collected these last few weeks:
The Wave. Wholly forgettable.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. OMG THE STUPID. “Hey, kids! Let’s start up the hydroelectric power plant after 10 years shut down. How hard can it be? Flip the switches! Connect cables! Everything starts right up!” BWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA. No.
The Big Short. Funny, informative, moving, clever. Superlative. I didn’t find the information in it to be revelatory, educational mind-blowers the way all its reviews mentioned, but then I learned about the havoc potential of secondary markets and the sociopathic cray-cray culture of Wall Street at my daddy’s knee in the late 70’s. The crash was never a shock or a mystery to me. Greed & corruption burned down a building that was already sliding off a cliff. Plenty of experts were raising alarms about the dangers of deregulated banking & the housing bubble from the late 90’s onward. Anyhow. It made me laugh, even while I got angry all over again.
Allegiant part 1. I see why the finale’s going direct to DVD. Bad. Dull-bad, not fun-bad.
Bridge of Spies. Atmospheric, brilliant, and damnably depressing.
The Giver. Could’ve been great. Wasn’t.
Zootopia. FOX! BUNNIES! OTTER! Progressive social message delivered with a fethery tickler instead of a mallet. Fifteen stars out of five.
Seven Samurai.  This is the first time in four viewings that I realized the villagers are the main characters. I think this is the only version where that’s true.
Magnificent Seven (1960) Watched right after 7 Samurai. Fascinated to see how 45 minutes of story development were condensed to 5 minutes of screen time in this iteration.
And finally a theater-worthy flick:
Magnificent Seven (2016) A few too many Hollywood cliche writing flourishes for my taste, but a fine updating nonetheless.

In serial viewing:
Zoo season 3: last three episodes in one sitting. I may have broken brain cells.
All 7 seasons of West Wing. Details offered in an earlier Other Things post.
Designated Survivor.  I’ll definitely be watching this one.
Miss Fisher Mysteries. Just starting now. Already in love with it.

Six weeks. It adds up to a lot.

Yes, I could get much more media creation done if I didn’t consume so much media. Then again I could also get a lot more writing done if I gave up gardening, cooking, volunteering, exercising, or socializing.  Value judgments. They’re sneaky. If I was independently wealthy and didn’t work at the library and had servants to do all my shopping and cleaning for me, I would get tons more writing and reading and movie-watching done.

I refuse to devalue any of my joyful work for the meager reward of bragging rights. I will not pursue monomania for quantity’s sake. Beyond physical survival & fiscal solvency, I strive for a balanced, healthy, grounded life. Productive? Enh. I’ll define it my own way.