purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher. I have to confess its not really my sort of book, though it is entertaining enough in its way. The manner in which it treads the line between fictional and audiobiographical is a bit disorientating.

Listening: I just listened to Cressida Dick on Desert Island Disks almost entirely because she and Maggie Smith are the only famous alumni of my school.

Watching: Not a lot, to be honest, my television watching generally reduces to virtually zero when B. is away. The Teenager and I have finished watching The Good Place and can't fix on anything else we really want to watch together (though I have tried tempting her with various 1960s TV shows).
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
A day late, but I felt more like this than throwback Thursday.

Reading: I have just belatedly finished Thick as Thieves the latest in The Queen's Thief series of novels. It was fine, but very like The Thief in some ways (it was mostly a travelogue) and the "twist" was pretty obvious if you've read the other books in the series - also I was frankly far less interested in the two main characters than I am in Attolia and Eugenides.

Listening: With the banishment of Doctor Who from our screens my podcasting list has shrunk back to a normal size (there are several podcasts I can't really be bothered with if they're not talking about actual new Doctor Who). I've put David Tennant's new podcast in which he talks to various celebrities on my list, though I've not listened to any yet. In general I'm not terribly engaged by celebrity interview podcasts so I'm a little dubious about this, but will give it a go and see.

Watching: Mostly we are watching A Series of Unfortunate Events and I'm torn between admiring it's presentation and production values and finding it rather repetitive. We've ground to a bit of a halt with Grimm because it seemed to be about to descend into tedious relationship drama - I suspect said drama will only last an episode or two, but I don't think either of us particularly want to watch through it.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Just finished After the Dinosaurs, moving on to Ninefox Gambit.

Listening: Still mostly Doctor Who podcasts, particularly now Radio Free Skaro have started their advent calendar.

Watching: Grimm mostly, though we did show the Teenager the first episodes of Blakes' 7
purplecat: The Thirteenth Doctor and Tards (Who:Thirteen)
Reading: Both After the Dinosaurs: The Age of Mammals by Donald Prothero and Ninefox Gambit by [personal profile] yhlee mostly because although the former is above the latter in my "to read" pile, Prothero has a habit of getting a bit list-y in places and only really perks up when it gets an opportunity to denounce those who think mass extinctions are caused by asteroids.

Listening: I upped my podcast selection in order to listen to reviews of the latest Who season, so was adding Radio Free Skaro, This Week in Time Travel and The Ood Cast to my list. That was a bit much so I've dropped This Week in Time Travel mostly because I prefer the more free-flowing presentation style of Radio Free Skaro and The Ood Cast is worth it for the songs (and sometimes for the comedy sketches).

Watching: Doctor Who which I will no doubt finally get around to reviewing long after it has finished showing. In general though I'm feeling about this much as I felt about the Eccleston season. A couple of standout episodes, but a lot of the stories, particularly those written by the show runner, leave me a bit cold - I mean, I can see why the people who love them love them, but they are not really my sort of Doctor Who.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Grass by Sheri S. Tepper. Someone must have recommended this but I do not recall who. I'm only a couple of chapters in and so far have mostly been struck by the distinctive prose style and the way the text does not describe things familiar to the characters leaving one with a strange sense of dislocation. The mounts and the hounds are clearly not horses or dogs but it is a mystery to the reader what they are.

Listening: I'm cautiously liking a new Doctor Who podcast, The Moment, in which the host discusses one particular moment from Doctor Who with his guest. There is more post-processing and enough of a focus on actual analysis rather than random chit chat to hold my attention and give it a distinctive feel.

Watching: B. is away so G. and I have resumed our The Good Place watching.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein recommended to me many times by many people. I am mostly a bit bemused. Heinlein is Heinlein and his writing in 1966 is, frankly, a lot less eye-rolly than much else from the era. What puzzles me somewhat is that the book seems to consist mostly of the narrator, or his friend the Prof, explaining How the World Works. This is fair enough, a lot of SF, and a lot of Heilein is in part a political manifesto, it's just that there doesn't seem to be a lot more to this and, given one aspect of How the World Works is an assumption that humanity placed in a sufficiently harsh environment with sufficiently few actual laws will naturally develop into a terribly polite society in which people respect each other, each other's property and person and, assuming there are few enough women, treat said women particularly well seems, well, not quite as elder statesman imparting wisdom as the author intends. In fact, Heinlein's Luna colony makes me think mostly of Tolkien's shire only without the nostalgic focus, the vague assumption of sufficient resource to go around, and the implicit classism to provide some kind of legal structure.

Listening: Miscellaneous podcasts as usual - though I have started to listen to series of public lectures hosted by the LSE. It admirably oscillates between left and right wing speakers but so far I have found speakers from both sides rather irritatingly inclined to construct straw men, prefer a bon mot over an actual point, and to argue somewhat from conclusion back to evidence rather than vice versa.

Watching: B. has discovered a genre of Japanese amine which mostly involves someone cooking a dish, someone else eating it and experiencing the joy of the wonderful flavours and... well that's about it. It is remarkably relaxing to watch.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Queen Emma and the Vikings recommended, I think, by [livejournal.com profile] philmophlegm. It's attempting to be an approachable historical textbook about Queen Emma (mother of Edward the Confessor and much more besides) though, at the moment, I'd say it was grappling rather with the lack of much concrete evidence from the time.

Listening: Some time ago I got invited onto the University of Liverpool podcast (to talk about AI and Ethics) and I've listened to it on and off ever since - any time the subject seems interesting or someone I vaguely know pops up on it. It's an idiosyncratic thing. The host is Canadian and lives in Canada (which seems an odd choice for a podcast show-casing a UK university) and its remit to cover University of Liverpool research makes it naturally rather eclectic. I find it surprisingly listenable though, given its is such a localised concern.

Watching: Still haven't managed to see Infinity War but G. and I did manage to watch two more episodes of The Good Place. B. has cried off it since it didn't really grab him and G. promptly went and binge-watched the lot on Netflix leaving me feeling a little at sea, but she's offered to rewatch the rest of it with me.
purplecat: The Avengers (MCU) (MCU)
Reading: The Legends of River Song - a short story anthology all told in the first person by River. So far, rather consistently better than these collections often are. I've read four out of five and they've all been entertaining with a strong sense of River's character.

Listening: I've more or less listened through a lot of the podcasts I originally found and liked when I first started looking around the Doctor Who scene. It's a bit difficult to tell where to look next since I find a lot of the general discussion and news podcasts more hit than miss (and, you know, there are only so many times one wants to listen to Paul Cornell being interviewed). However I'm currently trying Reality Bomb which I'm cautiously enjoying, it's had a lot of segments with a history/nostalgia focus which nevertheless manage to bring new material to the table. However I'm not a fan of its comic sketches.

Watching: B. is not a great fan of the Marvel movies (though he doesn't particularly mind them). However G. and I are exploiting his current absence in an attempt to catch up, so we watched Thor:Ragnarok at the weekend on Amazon which was a great deal sillier than I had expected. I think I was fooled by the title into thinking it would be terribly angsty. We're hoping Black Panther will still be in a cinema nearby this weekend and we will be able to watch it on Saturday and Infinity War on Sunday (and then G. can watch Infinity War again on Monday with her friends).
purplecat: Chrisjen from The Expanse (Space Opera)
Ooh! Haven't done one of these for a while.

Reading: Companion Piece. One in the line of books that started with Chicks Dig Time Lords. I was somewhat bemused by the popularity of Chicks Dig..., I think in part because it didn't seem to bear any relation to my own experience as a female Who fan but I rated Queers Dig Time Lords very highly. So far I'm feeling a bit `meh' about Companion Piece though I'm only a couple of essays into it - in general (though not exclusively) it's been a bit short on the analysis and a bit long on the summaries, but early days yet....

Listening: I've started listening to the Philosophise This podcast. I'm enjoying the survey of the history of philosophy but I find some of the presentation a little hokey.

Watching: Apart from the Randomiser we're not really watching anything consistently at the moment. Odd episodes of Tintin, and Star Trek (both TOS and Discovery). Comparing and contrasting original Star Trek with Discovery is interesting, for all its cheesiness to modern eyes the original series was trying to be high concept in a way Discovery isn't (or at least from what we've seen so far). Discovery seems to be going much more down the space opera/politics route which feels very familiar, particularly viewing it hot on the heels of The Expanse. I feel there is quite a lot of Discovery-like stuff about at the moment but not much original Star Trek-like stuff (possibly Black Mirror but we bailed halfway through the first episode unconvinced by the set-up and another episode I was shown by a friend left me with too many questions about how the concept was supposed to work to feel satisfied- high concept, particularly when you have to both tell a story and set up a convincing world in the space of 45 minutes is hard).
purplecat: A pile of hardback books (General:Books)
Reading: The Regiment - The Real Story of the SAS as recommended yonks ago by [personal profile] fififolle. I'm not, in general, that much interested by the military but do keep having to write them in stories. I've only just finished the first chapter on the Iranian Embassy siege.

Listening: The Writers' Room have been wrong about a lot of things recently. I've just finished listening to them being wrong about Ian Stuart Black, before that they were very, very wrong about Stephen Gallagher and before that a little bit wrong about Douglas Adams.

Watching: We ran out of Netflix available Killjoys, fortunately the second series of The Expanse turned up to fill the gap.
purplecat: A pile of hardback books (General:Books)
Reading: I finally finished Crime and Punishement which was interesting but very monologuey. I've moved on to Unshapely Things by Marc del Franco, which seems quite good but I have a feeling I've exhausted my patience for wizards in garrets brooding about their tragic pasts.

Listening: I just listened to the first of the David Tennant and Catherine Tate Big Finish audios which I enjoyed more than I expected to - although they paired Donna up with another London temp and I actually, on audio, found them quite hard to tell apart.

Watching: A mixture of Wallander, Killjoys, Yuri on Ice and classic Doctor Who. We're doing quite well for choice of viewing options at the moment.
purplecat: A pile of hardback books (General:Books)
Reading: Still Crime and Punishment. I have reached part 2. I'm finding Raskolnikov, the protagonist, somewhat irritating though, unlike Anna Karenina, I assume this is deliberate and much of the book is intended to be a study of poor decision making, its causes and effects.

Listening: I've come late to The Ood Cast, currently in a fore-shortened form as "The Ood One Out". It is a little self-satisfied, but it is interesting to hear a fan podcast where most of the participants are professionals and so mingle skits and songs with episode discussion. I don't think I shall go back and listen to the back catalog, as I have with some other podcasts, but I've been happy enough to listen along to the Oods reactions to the latest season.

Watching: B. is away again and G. and I do not currently have a watching project. So there hasn't been a lot of watching this week.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Still Crime and Punishment which should be no surprise. However I had anticipated being further in than Chapter 5 by this point.

Listening: Stuff you Missed in History Class on William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman. So far he's invented a lie detector and is investigating women's emotional responses to bondage - suddenly Wonder Woman's lasso takes on a whole new dimension. He appears to have been both a feminist of sorts* and a polygamist. The former of which is, I gather, very evident in the early Wonder Woman comics (particularly his belief that the world would be a better place if run by women) the latter somewhat less so.

Watching: We have discovered Stanger Things. Very reminiscent of E.T. (it opens with a D&D game, is set in the 1980s and much of it is short from a child height viewpoint (a characteristic of E.T. according to B.))

*neither of his partners got suitable credit for their, in some cases considerable, input into his work.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Crime and Punishment - I've just finished chapter 2. This could take a while.

Listening: Of late, I've been frustrated by podcasters' apparent inability to check basic facts. There was the episode of Doctor Who:The Writer's Room in which one of the hosts discussed the trial of James II by parliament (comparing it to the trial of the War Lord in The War Games). Then there was the episode of Podcast Detected on the theme of "What we've learned about the UK by playing Zombies! Run!" which, among other things, discussed the extensive network of government run CCTV cameras that monitor our fields and country roads and the lack of swearing among members of our armed forces.

Watching: Almost exclusively Doctor Who of various forms. Need to find something to vary the diet.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (books)
Reading: Moved on from James Tiptree (though I liked the later stories in the collection more than I liked a lot of the ones in the middle) to a very battered copy of The Steerswoman which I'm enjoying a whole lot more despite the fact that generic fantasy settings (or at least generic with a twist, on the assumption that the picture on the cover is a spoiler for a twist) are not really my thing.

Listening: Slowly listening my way through A History of the World in 100 Objects. It isn't quite what I was expecting (though I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting). I think, as it has moved into recorded history, I was expecting a more linked narrative to emerge, rather than it to maintain it's focus on brief snapshots of time. I'm also not terribly enamoured on the random commentary by contemporary people with, on occasion, only tangential relevance to the object or the history. Overall though, it's a Radio 4 program that definitely benefits from being listened to in order some time after the fact (which, I have discovered, many don't - or at least don't really work from me in that context).

Watching: Almost exclusively watching new and old Doctor Who at the moment. B. and G. are watching Attack on Titan but I find it a little blood-thirsty for my taste so have generally been absenting myself.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Still labouring my way through Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. I've had this problem with single author anthologies before that, no matter how good the individual stories, their similarity gradually makes each one seem more of a chore to get through. I gave up half way through a Jeeves and Wooster anthology for this reason. I am, at least, through the novellas now and back into a run of shorter stories.

Listening: Just finished listening to The Writers' Room podcast on Chris Boucher. I am not at all sure Boucher is pronounced the way they are pronouncing it (Bow as in "he took a bow") but I'm not entirely sure it's pronounced the way I've always pronounced it (Boo). Other than that, I've agreed with most of what they've said ("Robots of Death" is the strongest of his three stories and "Image of the Fendahl" the weakest - there are some plot oddities, particularly in Fendahl and Robots isn't really a Whodunnit much as it apes the form. It is odd that Boucher goes from an interest in AI and Robots in his first two stories to something much more traditionally in the gothic horror model in his last).

Watching: This week it has been most new Doctor Who (Oxygen) and old Doctor Who (Planet of the Daleks).
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (books)
Reading: Her Smoke Rises up Forever, a collection of James Tiptree Jr short stories. It must be said, while I appreciate the prose I'm finding a lot of them quite dated and weirdly gender essentialist (which may just be dated attitudes made more obvious since so many of them have female protagonists or are specifically about male violence against women). It's also kind of depressing that in the vast majority of them the main protagonist dies at the end.

Listening: The [community profile] otpodcast episode on Fusion AUs. The podcast was recommended to me by [personal profile] dunderklumpen and it gets definite points for being a mostly interesting discussion of fanfic. But I do get a bit of a disconnect every time they refer to shows from the 1990s as "really old" fandoms.

Watching: We've abruptly come to the end of seasons1 of both Killjoys and The Expanse on Netflix. So we're back with Doctor Who and The Avengers.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Plantagenet England by Michael Prestwich. A weighty tome which briefly touches upon the works of Robert Burnell who may be (but let's face it, probably actually isn't) an ancestor of mine. I'm about 200 pages into its 600 and Burnell has already come and gone. Still it's interesting in a recall my school history but get more detail and analysis kind of way.

Listening: The Verity Podcast is, as is so often the case, currently at the top of my Podcast playlist. But I feel I say "Verity Podcast" most weeks. The Zombies! Run! podcast has reanimated itself and I listened to that but while I like Zombies! Run! I'm not sure I'm really fannish about it enough to really appreciate the podcast.

Watching: The Child has become a Voltron: Legendary Defender fan so we have watched through the whole thing with her. I feel a bit old, I'm not convinced it is as great as all that and I never saw the original Volton as a child and so don't have any particular feeling of nostalgia about it. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not feeling the "it's soo great!" love that Child has.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (books)
Reading: When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time by Michael Benton. This was recommended as part of The Primeval Writer's Bookshelf on [livejournal.com profile] primeval_denial. I'm only two chapters in so at the moment it's mostly doing a quick history of paleontology.

Listening: I listened to an episode of Doctor Who: The Writer's Room which I discovered via The Doctor Who bookclub. The idea is to look at the writing on Doctor Who. This particular episode was on Terry Nation and was focusing on his two non-Dalek stories. Although the writing was discussed it was a lot closer to a more generic episode discussion than I expected. Still, I've downloaded the next and we shall see.

Watching: We watched Persuasion last night on the grounds it was Valentine's Day. I had forgotten (or not noticed) how often this story involves two characters involved in some interaction which is causing other characters to map the outcome onto their own thoughts about their own affairs. This made the experience a little exhausting since G. kept needing all the nuances explained to her.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Back to End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. This continues to be an intriguing mixture of mystery novel and end-of-the-time surreality though I'm concerned by [livejournal.com profile] a_cubed assertion that ultimately it all fails to gel. Still, enjoying it so far.

Listenining I've minorly injured my leg which has put a hold on my running listening. The last thing I listened to was a slightly defensive history of African Art on "Stuff you missed in history" - I felt this would have worked better with a) an actual focus on the history of African Art and/or and explicit acknowledgement that more African voices would have been valuable.

Watching: Doctor Who, Mindwarp. Hmm.... more on this anon.

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February 2019

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