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Not reading anything of much interest at the moment. Chipping away at the sci-fi novel that I've been working on this year. Trying not to stress about work, new president/political situation, march on Saturday, move, and trip to Costa Rica.

Be Zen. Or so I tell myself.
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370 Cities Across the World Just Announced Trump Inaurguration Protests.

According to Occupy Democrats, 14,000 are planning on marching in London.

Also..



The biggest marches outside of Washington are planned in New York City (which is technically unaffiliated with the D.C. march), Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Boston, Denver, San Francisco, Austin and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Internationally, 55 marches have been planned in cities such as Paris, Sydney and Nairobi.

The aim, Eyoel said, is not to detract from the March on Washington in any way, but to encourage people everywhere to join in what she took pains to describe as a “non-partisan,” not explicitly “anti-Trump” march.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/marches-inspired-by-the-womens-march-on-washington-are-now-happening-on-every-continent_us_587be3fee4b0e58057ff614b

Whoa. That's historic. I've never seen 370 marches in protest happen simultanouesly. And they are frigging long.

NYC is right now at 50,000- 60,000. And it's supposed to be sunny with a high of 50 degress on that day right now. So, we may end up with even more.

Also people are going to protest rallies on January 19 at Trump Tower.
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Among other things...

1. Victoria and The Crown I also watched another episode of "The Crown", episode 7. I think I have three more? Tried "Victoria", but gave up half-way through, may or may not come back to it. I agree with the critics on "Victoria", if you've been watching Netflix's superior "The Crown", "Victoria" falls a bit flat. Part of the problem with "Victoria" is that the writers have decided to try a Downton Abbey set up, we have the servants and Victoria's story going on simultaneously, which worked in Downton Abbey but not here. Here it is distracting, and a bit tedious. Also, Jenna Coleman's Victoria is played as a wee bit too eager and over-the-top, makes me miss Clair Foy's more understated performance as Elizabeth. After watching twenty minutes of it, I flipped to the 7th episode of The Crown, which is hardly fair, but there you go.

2. Sherlock - the final or last episode which I think is called The Musgrove Case? -- I've mixed feelings about the episode. I think it was in many ways a muddled mess from a plot, writing, and direction standpoint. Careening here and there, and way too gimmicky and fond of its own cleverness. That said, there were things I liked about it from a characterization and metaphorical stance. I don't think the plot made a lot of sense, and various bits defied logic, but metaphorically and character wise, it was interesting.
spoilers )
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Had the day off, so went to see La La Land thinking it would be an uplifting and inspiring fun film. I should have gone to Hidden Figures instead.

The movie theater was packed and expensive. It's $15.50 to see a matinee nowadays. I saw the film at 12:25 PM. I remember when it was $5. Actually I remember $1 movies.

Held the audience's attention throughout. We had a bunch of kids near us and they watched more or less compelled.

Singing in the Rain it's not, if anything it's a commentary and possibly a homage on Singing in the Rain and other musical films of the 1960s and 50s, and not necessarily a pleasant one. If you know anything about musical films, you'll pick up on the meta, if you don't, I think a lot of it may well be lost. So, in some respects it is film that rewards the film buff, more than the average film goer. Films it references include the Umbrella's of Cherbourg, American in Paris, Band Wagon, Singing in the Rain, Pal Joey...

spoilers )
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1. Didn't like the last episode of Sherlock ss much as the middle episode, too plotty. Although the ending was good. It just kept leaping about, and was clearly working to redeem Sherlock and get across his humanity in the face of his dysfunctional family.

Curious -- anyone who knows the novels, how far have they leaped away from them?

2. Vampire Diaries - the relationship between Damon and Stefan reminds me a great deal of Angel and Spike, except less ambiguous and more defined. It also does a nifty job of talking about how the past can destroy you or heal you. Not to mention the power of love. I like the brother dynamic a great deal, and this past episode was among the better ones. Good television last week.

3. This is Us was also good last week in how it explored the family dynamic and the various inter-relationships within it. It can feel a bit over-the-top at times but overall it works for me.


I'm on the fence about doing the Women's March in NYC next Saturday, apparently this is an all day thing? And it's around the old work place in mid-town Manhattan. We'll be leaving the workplace on Friday, not sure I want to head back to it on Saturday to march up to an area that I've been steadfastedly avoiding for the last year. Also there's going to be over 50,000 people doing this. Ack.

I don't do parades people. Me and crowds are unmixy things.
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Well, dlgood was right -- they found a way to repeal the Affordable Care Act through "the budget reconcilation".

NPR actually explains the process in DETAIL.


epublicans and the incoming Trump administration have been careful not to talk about exactly what they plan to do to the Affordable Care Act beyond repealing virtually all of its coverage expansions and the taxes that help fund them. But they seem to be coalescing around a strategy of repeal and delay, in which they would pass a bill to kill many of the major provisions of law by a certain date, then set to work on crafting and passing a replacement before that date arrives.
In House Majority Leader's Home District, Many Depend On Health Law He Wants To Scrap
Shots - Health News
In House Majority Leader's Home District, Many Depend On Health Law He Wants To Scrap

It would be quicker for Congress to simply repeal the health law outright. But Republicans can't do that, because they would need 60 votes in the Senate to fend off Democrats' delaying tactics, and they will have only 52 GOP members. So instead they will be limited to using a special budget strategy that will let them pass their bill with 51 votes.

That's called budget reconciliation, and the strategy does not let lawmakers repeal the entire law — only the parts that directly impact federal spending. It's been widely discussed as something the Republicans might attempt, but there has been less focus on how long the process takes.

No one in Congress can simply introduce a budget reconciliation bill. The word "reconciliation" refers to the process by which congressional committees that control permanent spending programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, as well as tax policy, take action to reconcile that spending with the terms of the annual budget resolution.

That means the first action must be to pass a budget resolution, which Congress failed to do last year. That is the resolution McConnell was referring to in his Monday remarks to reporters.

The budget resolution, which is essentially a planning document for spending and taxes for the coming fiscal year, does not go to the president for a signature. But like a regular bill, it does have to be passed by both the House and Senate in the same form. And while the budget resolution also may not be filibustered in the Senate, lawmakers have up to 50 hours to debate it and unlimited time to vote on proposed amendments, which in practice can take up to another full day.

Once that measure is agreed to by the full House and Senate, the action moves back to congressional committees. The budget resolution often includes reconciliation instructions to committees. Those instructions order proposed legislative changes to the programs the committees oversee, to meet the terms of the budget. That process triggers the reconciliation bill that goes to the president.



And this article explains their perspective and why they desperately want to repeal the law:

Everything You Need to Know About Why Conservatives Want to Appeal ObamaCare or the ACA




Wait a second. Isn’t Obamacare actually a Republican plan?
While Democrats were pushing for Obamacare, Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican from Wisconsin, was pushing for an ambitious Medicare reform that bore a strong family resemblance to Obamacare. Both Ryan’s Medicare reform and Obamacare envisioned giving beneficiaries a subsidy that they could use to purchase insurance coverage on a regulated marketplace or exchange, with an eye toward harnessing the power of competition to hold down costs. So why did Ryan oppose Obamacare if he was so enthusiastic about this approach in Medicare? Was it because he—along with all other anti-Obamacare Republicans—is a hypocrite?

Well, no. In Medicare, Ryan hoped to move a single-payer health entitlement in a more market-oriented direction. To put it crudely, the goal of Ryan’s Medicare reform was to move from more socialism to less socialism. For better or for worse, there is now a consensus that the federal government should finance a large chunk of medical expenditures for all older Americans, and that’s been true for decades. There is no such consensus for non-elderly adults, which is why Obamacare, which sought to move us in the direction of establishing a universal health entitlement, was so hotly contested. The problem with Obamacare, for Ryan and others on the right, is that it moved America’s health system in the wrong direction, from less socialism to more socialism.

Yuval Levin, the editor of the conservative policy journal National Affairs, has said that the debate over health reform is about “which way, not how far.” That is, while wonks on both sides agree that the pre-Obamacare health system was royally screwed-up, they disagreed about how to fix it. Liberals wanted to make the system more centralized and orderly—sure, there can be competition, but only insurance plans that meet strictly defined standards set by credentialed professionals can compete. Conservatives wanted to make the system more of a free market, in which government subsidies to help people buy coverage are visible and, ideally, capped. By capping subsidies, consumers would have a strong incentive to shop wisely, and insurers and providers would be pressured into coming up with new ways to offer more value for the money. Another way of putting this: While liberals think health care is too important to leave to the messy, trial-and-error process of the free market, conservatives think a trial-and-error discovery process is the only way the health system can get better, cheaper, and smarter over time.

There is nothing wrong in principle with establishing marketplaces where people can buy insurance. There are conservative plans that feature marketplaces too! Yet the Obamacare exchanges do much more than just provide a place where people can compare different plans. They shift responsibility for regulating the individual insurance market from state governments to the federal government, even in the case of the partner exchanges established by states in accordance with federal rules. The Obamacare exchanges aren’t best understood as simple marketplaces, where the main role of regulators is to ensure transparency. Rather, they serve as central planning boards that establish coverage mandates and review rates. You might think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it definitely limits opportunities to offer new types of coverage and new models for care delivery.

Of course, the exchanges are only part of how Obamacare expands insurance coverage. Just as important is its mammoth expansion of Medicaid, a program that conservatives have long criticized for delivering poor health outcomes and for its joint state-federal structure, which encourages overspending.

When you look at Obamacare as a law that greatly increases federal regulation of the insurance market and federal spending while doubling down on Medicaid, it should be clear that it is not ideal from a conservative perspective.


Sigh. I read this stuff, and I find myself wanting to lock the right-wingers in a room with nothing but Michael Moore Documentaries, and documentaries on poor Americans, people dying of cancer, etc for the next year and a half. They won't be permitted to leave until they agree to divest themselves of all worldly things, and do nothing but charitable works.
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It's late, but I had chocolate and I'm wired. Dark chocolate. No sugar. I'm a chocolate addict and should not have it. I know this.

Also still disturbed by my interaction with my Aunt, who is a favorite. But alas, it may pass over now that I deleted the post. I'm not sure I like FB, it's ...less safe somehow than here. If that makes sense? Probably not.

In some respects, I feel more understood or freer here. Like I can let my hair hang out. I can be geeky and fannish. Radical. On FB, I have to restrain myself. I'm more exposed.

Today, I watched television while it snowed. I may hibernate this weekend. It sounds like it is raining now. I hope not. I liked the pretty snow. The weather is funky, isn't it? At any rate I hope you don't mind the multiple posts?

Elisi has posted lots of links in her journal regarding the ACA and politics. Here's a few useful one's on the ACA. I can't talk about this without ranting. And I'm trying not to. I'm furious at the Republican Party. Actually I'm angry at a lot of people at the moment and I'm trying not to be.

IT's TIME TO FIGHT - THE ACA REPEAL

Also, this link cheered me up or made me laugh: Our calls to Senators are Apparently Working at least on some level

I finally got irritated enough with FB, which has been irritating me for a long time now - to state: "I'd apologize for all the political posts, but seriously? That's why I joined FB to begin with, to discuss politics. Way back in 2008, before my family joined and it was just me and the people from discussion forums."

Okay, back to the reason I was posting, television shows..and damn, it is raining. Stupid weather.

1. Nashville -- really good this week. Far cry from last week. The final song, even made me cry. And it focused more on the music and less on the melodrama. Also each character's relationship to the music and to each other through it.

2. Good Behavior -- the season finale was perfect. It even works as a series finale if need be. Satisfying in every way. I love what the male lead states to the protagonist's son at the end, that he trusts the boy's mother, because of her actions, which are honest and genuine, not her words.
She basically puts everything on the line to save both his ass and her son, and give them a better life.

Great anti-hero show. With two immorale characters that have a deep moral code underneath.

3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - still a rather clever and insightful satire on romantic love and how narcissistic it can be. There's a wonderful scene between Rebecca Bunch and her therapist, where Rebecca is on the cusp of a psychological breakthrough, but it's ruined when her clueless boyfriend pops in and literally pops the question. The therapist is about to have a hissy fit when it happens.

Bunch is about to admit that she was wrong, that a man isn't going to solve her problems. That her problems are still there. That moving or changing locals didn't make them go away, they just followed her. And maybe she needs to dig deep inside herself and find what she needs inside herself and not in someone else. Narcissists look for validation completely outside themselves. They are never secure or happy with who they are. It's always about getting approval, winning awards, how many friends they have, how loved they are, how much money they make, how big their house is, what their title is...success to a narcissist is measured by external things, and defined by others.
And they are never happy or satisfied.

Unfortunately, Josh Chen, who equally has issues, decides he has to propose to Bunch, they have to make it work -- because he's told everybody they are a couple. And if they don't work out, he'll look like an idiot. He's also doing this for external gratification, he cares what others think of him.

Then there's Ethan or is it Nathan? I suck at names. The new guy at the firm, and Bunch's new love interest. Apparently he's the male version of Bunch. His father drove him nuts and made him feel insecure, just as Bunch's mother makes her insecure. In this episode you see them echo each other in how they relate to their parents. Both are successful and have graduate from top schools, but neither is happy, because they need external approval.

Crazy Ex-Girl Friend shines a satiric light on the sickness at our society's core. Actually I think all of our media is shining a light on it...in various ways. We live in the age of narcissism. Just look at how many award shows we have on television, reality contests, and competitions. Heck look at our leadership. I find myself suddenly wanting to place everyone around the world into group therapy.
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The other day, I had the weirdest moment -- I thought I was in February and tomorrow was Valentine's Day. I was standing in the pharmaceutical aisle looking at all of these tempting valentine hearts filled with chocolates, so my confusion is understandable. Honestly, wouldn't the chocolates be a bit stale by Feb 14th, a month away? No worries, I passed the test and did not buy one. Bought 72% Coco Bar instead. The valentine hearts containing an array of chocolate candies had all sorts of nasty additives, including gluten, that would have made me one sick little puppy.

Anywho...I posted this on my wordpress blog, go read at your leisure.


In other reading news, I'm currently read, yet another romance novel ...this one is entitled "Beautiful Bad Man - Sutton Family 1 by Eileen...something or other", I tend to forget the writers of these novels. And if I didn't write down the novels, I'd forget them too soon after I read them.
Memorable they aren't. This one is a Western, about a gunman and a farmer's widow, who team up to fight off a bunch of ranchers stealing land in Western Kansas during the late 1800s, long after the Civil War. They apparently met up as kids, she saved him from being hung by a bunch of drunken brutes. Years later, while working for the evil cattle rancher, he comes across her being taunted by the men he's working with, and stops it. Kills one of the brutes. Injures another. And quits. Courts her. Tries to convince her to sell the land to him -- because he takes a fancy to farming it himself, but she refuses and talks him into marrying her instead and becoming partners. That's as far as I've got.

The villains are fairly one-dimensional, they always are in these types of books, and the heroes a bit more complicated. The writing is notch or two above some of the genre, but below the better writers or my go-to novelists.

I decided after reading Masq's reviews, to buy a Ben Bova novel -- which I can't remember the name of. I think it was Star Conquerors -- a predecessor to Star Trek or so the description stated. It is considered a favorite among sci-fi space opera fans. I like space opera...

Looked at some of the new novels being published and none of them strike a chord. All have characters that ring a sour note, thirty-something rich divorcees, or young marrieds in their twenties...and well, no. Or teens coming of age in small rural towns. It's not that I don't want to jump into another perspective, it's just that I've jumped into that particular perspective so many times now that I'm starting to wonder about the publishing industry and the people writing these books -- can't you come up with something new? I'm tired of reading the same stories all the time.
Tell me a new story. One without a 40 something divorcee. How about a 40 something virgin or a woman who is single and never been married or dated much? Or instead of a young married couple, how about a couple in their 70s or 80s struggling with their kids and getting older, and memory loss? I have found those books here and there but not as many.

Instead of a bunch of rich girl-friends traveling into the wilds and meeting disaster, what about a bunch of strangers on an adventure tour, who don't know each other, and are varying ages and races and nationalities?

See this is why I write...I write the books I can't find on the shelves. If it's already out there, why bother writing it?
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Retreating from Face Book posting back to interactive journaling. Mainly to get away from opinionated family members and church folks. Many of whom do not appreciate my sense of humor, which admittedly is rather dry.

They are busy doing something today - that is rather noisy in the hallway. The hallways of the apartment complex echo...reverberating sound back at you with hollow glee.

Last night on the phone to my mother, who is nearing 75, and I talk to daily via phone, I'm ranting about my boss, then half-way through my rant, as I tend to do, I switch gears and start to defend him.

Mother: You have an interesting way of handling things.
Me: How so?
Mother: You're telling me how horrible your boss is, and how much you hate the work assignment he gave you, then you suddenly switch gears and start to break down how what he did made total sense,
was reasonable and you understand why he gave you the assignment...
Me: Well, he had to give it to someone and I do have the background for it..
Mother: You did the same thing recently in regards to your brother, you were upset with him, really angry, then all of a sudden you started to defend him to me. It's fascinating. And when you were a little girl and your friend Cathan treated you horribly, you defended her actions to me and still do.

Also, possibly makes me look a bit nuts to the outside observer. I don't know if it is the writer or the lawyer in me or not, but I have this knack of jumping back from a situation, looking at it objectively, observing everything, analyzing it, and understanding everyone's position -- not only understanding their position but arguing it. I've always done it. Even when I was a small child.
I did it in fandom. I could see both sides, really clearly. It can get confusing at times. It's also really hard to understand why others don't do this as well. I rather loved a comment that Sherlock makes in this past week's episode, in which he states that he just analyzed everyone's motivations, figured out the probabilities of what they would most likely do next and went with that --- "And doesn't everyone do that?"

My aunts, per my father, accused me of overthinking recently on FB. I think I annoyed them. Their main posts on FB are pics of walking a beach, Disney World and puppies. What they don't understand and I'm not sure it is a good idea to enlighten them, is I joined FB to discuss politics not look at pictures of people's kids and pets. Not that I necessarily mind seeing the pics.

I'd written a brief post about how FB was scaring me again - in the space of an hour, I'd learned that there were creepy sites that had all my personal information, salmon carried tapeworms, and let's not even begin to discuss politics. I love you all, but seriously, sometimes I miss the age when there was no internet. We wrote letters. And read papers. With less news.

I do miss that at times. Although the drawback of letters, was that you rarely got responses, and if you did, not quickly. I corresponded a lot with people by letter in my teens and twenties. Overseas and in the US. Sort of like now, but with a journal. Some would respond within a week. Some within months. Some not at all -- which felt a bit like sending messages in a bottle. I'd write the letters in multi-colored ink. Sometimes doodle on the edges. And they'd be a bit like my journal posts -- except with crossed out words, and multiple typos. Cursive and printed letters fighting for dominance along the page.

The letters that came back, some typed, some hand-written, rarely responded to what I said, so much as circumvented it. It felt at times as if we were strangers or rather ships passing each other in the night and lighting a brief flare or honking a horn in greeting. Or maybe just throwing messages in bottles at each other -- the messages not connected at all. If you read the letters, it would seem as if the writers had not read each others correspondence.

That appears to be the etiquette on dreamwidth and live journal and other media sources. Most of the time. We write as if we are in bubbles. Not seeing each others posts, unless we directly respond to them. I wonder if that is the problem? This bubble existence. I'm nice and comfy here. I can ignore what is happening over there. That is until it comes barrelling through the bubbled walls of my life?
I don't know.

Off to eat breakfast and watch telly and give the internet a rest for a bit. Considering I left my cell phone at work (at least I hope it is at work, because if it isn't, I have a problem, I'm probably not wandering too far from home. Not that I can't. Seriously that sounds dumb, doesn't it? I rarely use the thing except as a watch, GPS, to check facebook, and occasionally listen to music. I'm just using it as an excuse to be lazy, write and watch telly this weekend.)
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Definitely better than last week's episode, with a lot of twists and turns. Unlike other versions of "Sherlock Holmes", it's sort of hard to figure out what will happen next because the plot is rollicking past you at a 100 mph. Also, Moffat/Gatis are going for a more noirish take on the series than most. If you aren't a fan of noir tropes, I can't see you liking Sherlock all that much. (ie. lots of shady ladies, the heroes deeply flawed, and often things not ending well. In the noir, the hero stares into the abyss, and more often than not, falls in.) I think the series skates across the line of the traditional noir trope, but just barely. Noir heroes are often jerks. But never boring, and quite fascinating in a way.

Say what you will about Moffat's Sherlock, he's not boring. Wish I could say the same thing about Elementary, gave up on that finally, because I kept wandering off or going to sleep during it. I like the characters in some respects better, but dang, is it dull at times. May be the 22 episode procedural format? (shrugs)

Yes, I'm being annoyingly opinionated. Not feeling up to snuff physically, and it leaves a slight after taste of irritability. Also, I'm trying not to worry about DJT's cabinet picks. Culverton Smith, the villain in this week's Sherlock, reminded me uncomfortably of DJT. Sort of Mini-Version of DJT on speed. (You know like Doctor Evil's Mini-Me? Well Culverton Smith is Mini-DJT. Which is enough to give anyone nightmares.)

I like how the series continues pulls back the veil on our ego driven culture. Where everything is a competition, and people are broken down into winners and losers, while powerful men like Culverton Smith see themselves as untouchable and able to do anything.

Other things I like about this episode, which I found easier to follow and more emotionally satisfying than the last one. Moffat is a better writer than Gatis, who I think is a better actor. Gatis plays Mycroft Holmes. Moffat utilizes gimmicks, but not to the same degree, and far more effectively. The flashback was utilized effectively here, but in a confusing manner in the last episode.

Spoilers )

Overall, I rather enjoyed that episode. And I'm still enjoying Sherlock, even when it gets a bit muddled.

YMMV.
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Have so far watched about six episodes of The Crown on netflix, starring Matt Smith, Clair Foy and John Lithgow. It's rather good and compelling. Didn't recognize Greg Wise, who portrays Prince Phillip's uncle, Lord Mountbatten and sponsor in England.

It also goes a long way towards explaining the British view of the monarchy, why there is a monarchy, and Queen Elizabeth II and Philip's reaction to the whole Princess Diana mess. I can sort of understand now why Diana irritated them. Also explains why being Queen of England is not exactly the most rewarding or desirable job on the planet.

How accurate or true any of this is -- I've no clue. It's hard to tell with fictionalized biopics or historicals. Will state that a couple of historical figures, long dead, do not come out well - "Churchill" and "the Duke of Windsor" both come across as manipulative opportunists. Although they actors are rather wonderful in these roles, and provide a certain amount of layering.

In other news, my cousin, or rather my mother's cousin, has taken it upon himself to clean all of the fake news off of Face Book and convince his friends not to like it, post it, share it, etc.
More power to him. As a result, I'm becoming an expert on how to root out fake sites, or unreliable ones on the internet.

It's rather easy. All you have to do is put a question in Google: "how reliable is (url or site)?"
And up pops information on the site. Also you can go to it directly and see if it tells you anything about it -- if not? Not reliable. And you can check the IPO address.

I did this with a site called truthmonitor - and yes, the name is an oxymoron. If someone calls themselves truth seeker or truth monitor, it bodes well to question them on that.

One of my aunts ranted recently on FB about the political posts. I'm like, did you really expect people to stop discussing this after the election? Come on. Also, people are on FB for different reasons. I joined it in 2008 to discuss politics and get information on politics, because a lot of sites posted info at that time exclusively to FB. Then people on LJ and DW friended me. Crazy relatives, friends from work, church, and college came much later. I don't have a lot of followers/friends on FB, nor do I want many. Hard to keep track of the one's I have.

In reading people's end of year television and movie lists..we really don't appear to watch many of the same things any longer do we? Outside of maybe Crazy Ex-Girl Friend (five people mentioned that one, interesting, didn't expect it to have that big a following on lj/dw) Doctor Who, Sherlock, and... quite a few The Americans fans (obviously you guys/gals don't feel inundated by Russians and do not want to hear the language or anything about Russian spies in film or tv for a long time.) No one mentioned Sense8 -- which I'm gearing up to try.
Also, a lot of people are watching Class -- Doctor Who spinoff.
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So, it snowed. Allegedly four inches, although since 8 am and didn't stop until roughly 5PM, so thinking slightly more than four inches. I like snow -- as long as I don't have to drive in it, shovel it, or travel through it. Which I don't until Monday, when it will all be cleared.

The city does over-react to it at times. Had an interesting discussion with a Russian woman in the elevator regarding this the other day -- to which she stated, "knowing this city, they will freak out."

Watched some telly, and drank home-made hot coco with whipped almond/coconut milk.

* Star -- I like the musical numbers better than Empire, has more dancing and a better R&B beat. But then I'm more of an R&B fan than "Hip-Hop" or "Rap" which tends to irritate me, unless it's women doing it. I like Destiney's Child for example. Also, more of a Benjamin Bratt fan than the lead of Empire...so there's that. That said? Empire is definitely better written, even though I didn't make it past the second episode -- because I can't watch television series about drug dealing any longer. And Empire is more about the drug trade than the music industry - - reminded me a little of the film Hustle and Flow. Have the same problem with "Atlanta" which is also more about the drug trade than the music industry.

A little back story on why television series about the drug trade irritate me -- way back in the 1990s, I did an internship with the Kansas Defender Project and spent a summer journeying to and from Leavenworth Penitentiary counseling clients who were in prison for their various roles in the drug trade. If it weren't for the drug trade, these guys would not be in prison. All three were addicts. One was a hit man for a major drug cartel on the east coast, which smuggled heroine up from the South to NYC. I spent half the summer reading his court transcripts to see if he had a case for ineffective assistance of counsel. He didn't. And yes, he was guilty and showed no remorse. His eyes were yellow, he slurred his words, and I could see the track lines in his arms. The next was a career bank robber, who was robbing banks to fuel his crack cocaine addiction. He's served more than his time, had rehabilitated himself, was running drug rehab clinics at the prison, and had written a pamphlet to scare kids off drugs. He was up for parole, and quite charming. The third was in prison for possession of crack cocaine, which had a lengthy term. I couldn't do a thing for him. Painful, but true.

So, when I watch television glamorize the drug trade -- with musical soundtrack, and get half of the facts wrong, I wince and flip the channel in disgust. Even STAR has this problem. Also, why is it that the black music series all feature the drug trade front and center, but the white music series about country music doesn't? Where is it written that if you do Hip-hop, Rap, or R&B -- you are a cocaine addict or dealing drugs? But if you are writing country music or rock, you aren't? Am I wrong to be irritated by this?

* Crazy Ex-Girl Friend

spoilers )

* Nashville --- oh, how far you've sunk. They got rid of the only thing that was holding my interest -- the great musical numbers. Now we barely get musical numbers, two strands of a song if that. Instead a lot of pointless relationship drama that doesn't really go anywhere and feels a bit cliche. This is Us and Thirtysomething did this sort of thing better. Nashville's strength was the music and references to the music industry, the romantic relationships always felt a bit soapy, now even more so...except with less point. Also, I really miss Luke Wheeler and the other gal -- who had great voices, far better than Rayna and Deacon.

We'll see if I stick with it. Right now...I'm thinking of ditching it and cutting my cable subscription back another five bucks to value added.

I think I'm going to give up on cable tv for a bit and watch The Crown on netflix.
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Finding a carry-on duffle with wheels is a lot harder than it looks. I can't find any that fit jetblues requirements of 22 x 14 x 9inchs. The closest I got was 22 x 12 x 10. Although I've been told by the reviews that if you don't pack it to capacity, it's not a problem.

Here it is:

Olympia Rolling Size Pocket Duffle - 8 pockets

The reviews are confusing me.

Amazon Reviews )
This in a nutshell is why I haven't bought any new luggage in 20 years. I despise it. I hate making purchasing decisions. I am not a person who enjoys shopping, can't you tell?


On another topic...as I told elisi recently, I've decided posting on the internet is akin to standing on a soap box in the middle of Times Square. Granted there are a lot of shiny distractions, but you are standing in the middle of Times Square. It's one of the reasons I don't bother flocking most of the time. I know people can hack into it if they really want to. Why they'd want to is another issue. I'm not that shiny.

At any rate...this does tend to make me rather self-conscious about what I'm posting half the time.
The other half? Well, I am prone to deleting...
shadowkat: (Default)
I'm trying to find a new carry-on bag for the trip to Costa Rica. Should be a roller-duffle or so I've been told. Currently have soft carry on bag, and a work back-pack which could double as a day-pack. Also need to get a waterproof fanny pack for wallet, iphone, and passport to carry when I don't want to lug around the day pack.

Ugh. Trip planning. Not a fan. I hate making decisions, I always second guess myself. I inherited this tendency from my mother. Today I asked my co-workers with iphones, how they changed the time on their phones when they traveled. They informed me that they didn't have to, it automatically did it - on it's own. Which is freaking weird. Worse, one of them told me that he was looking in the window of men's warehouse checking out coats, with his phone in hand, went to bed bath and beyond, then when he returned to his home, hours later and went to check email -- the ads on the side of his email featured "men's warehouse" and the coats that he was looking at. Freaked him out. More proof that evil marketing people rule the world.

Anyhow...Wed Reading Meme

For a bit of flavor, What was the best book by a non-white author that you read in 2016?

First of all, I would have to remember all the frigging books I read in 2016. Then figure out what the race of all the authors was, because I don't really pay that much attention to the author. I often forget their name. I know, this is a weird thing to admit as a writer, but there it is. When I'm reading books, I forget the author exists, more interested in the story. The gender, race, etc of the author is sort of meaningless to me. I think that's what I like about livejournal and dw blogs, there's a bit of anonymity to the writers...you don't always know their gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. I used to love that about fanboards. I'd have no idea half the time if I was corresponding with someone who was black, male, and in his 50s or someone who was white male, and in their teens. You really can't always tell by the writing style.

I know people couldn't always tell with my posts. A few people thought I was male. One or two that I was far younger than I actually am. I liked that anonymity. It meant that my words weren't defined by arbitrary stereotypes.

Having read authors of various races, genders, ages, I'm not sure it matters. Sometimes it does. Sometimes the writer writes about being female, fifteen or their race. But in fiction that's not always the case. There's a lot of male writers who write effectively in the female voice and vice versa. Also I'm writing a novel with a black heroine. And many people of color write about white people. Old people write in the voices of the very young, the very young write in the voices of the very old (I certainly did when I was young). I know a lot of homosexual and lesbian writers who write heterosexual sex scenes and do not write about homosexuality. And a lot of heterosexual writers who write about homosexuality. There was an interesting article that I saw flit by on FB a while back on all of this, which I can't remember the name of, so can't share it. Sometimes, I think, it is better if we know nothing about a writer/author when we read their work. Aren't given their name or anything about them. And then, see, if we can guess? Bet we'd get it wrong half the time.

Anyhow, what was the best book by a person of color that I read and remember? Probably either Trade Me by Courtney Milan or His at Night by Sherry Thomas. I actually liked Trade Me better, so going with that one. As an aside, Trade Me featured an asian american heroine in a contemporary romance novel -- which is a rarity. His at Night, was your standard Scarlett Pimpernel trope.

Speaking of Milan, she made an interesting comment on Twitter, which is why do people always use the romance genre to put down the publishing world or books in general? The Twitter remark she was responding to was : "Drugstore romance novels have publishers." Well, one could say the same thing about James Patterson novels, which really are just a step below the dime store pulp novels. He doesn't even write them. It's a brand. I actually have more respect for Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele than Patterson. Why? They write their books. He doesn't. He writes an outline and gives them to other people to write. Not that you should feel guilty for reading them. Read what you like. It's a free world, at least at the moment.

Also this just occurred to me -- but was that Twitter comment meant to disparage self-published writers or non-traditionally published writers? Sigh. The publishing industry continues to annoy me. So happy I don't work in it any longer.

What I just finished reading?

The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne -- a bit slow in places, but a notch above others in the genre in regards to writing style. She also has decent editors, since there are relatively few typos. I rather liked the plot -- which was about a French spy during the Napoleon War who discovers she's really a British spy and has to deal with that. To add to her confusion, she falls in love with the head of the British Secret Service.

It has sex scenes, but not that many and fairly understated. Focus is more on plot than romance.
Although the writer has pacing issues. I kept wanting to smack the writer and say, okay, I get it, can we move on now? Also it put me to sleep at various points.

What I'm reading now?

The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne -- also in the Spymaster series, about the 4th book. It's a stand-a-alone though, like most romance novel series. You don't have to read the other novels in the series to figure out what is happening. Good thing too, because I really don't want to. My mother adores this book.

It's okay. Also has pacing issues. I like the characters a great deal, but the plot plods along. They spend a lot of time talking about nothing or ruminating on whether or not they should have sex and stay together, if it's too dangerous, and what the meaning of the riddle they are attempting to figure out is. Is it Tarot or Chess?

And the writer, like most romance novelists, isn't great at action scenes. Sex scenes, she can do well. Action, Bourne struggles with. The action plods. And feels awkward. There's a bit too much description and of the wrong things, like placement of furniture and doors.

The plot itself is rather interesting -- again, about a French and British spy. In this instance, the French spy works for the Police Secrete in France. She's been a spy since she was 11. Prior to that she was in a child brothel. (Trigger warning, there are references to child rape and molestation, but nothing graphic -- it happened in the distant past not the present. So it is referred to.) The hero has been a British spy since he was 14, prior to that he was a street thief and pickpocket working for a gang in London. (Yes, a little bit of the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist). They meet when he's about 15 and she's 11. And over time, fall in love. He goes by the name Hawker, and she's Owl. Their conflict is that he's a British spy and she's a devoted French spy during the Napoleonic Wars. And the book does a good job of showing both perspectives, instead of painting one as better than the other. A lot of historical romance novels idealize the British a bit more than they should.

What I'll read next?

No clue. Although I'm flirting with Daniel Silva's spy series. Or might try something by Milan, or maybe a non-fiction by Le Carre, my father was raving about Le Carre's autobiography.
shadowkat: (Default)
Raining. Back aches, or rather neck. Tired of the rain. I'm one of those people who requires sunlight. I feel like a plant. A carnivorous plant. Less so than before. As I get older, red meat is harder to digest for some reason. Actually a lot of foods are harder to digest. What's up with that?

Finished watching the six episode series Mars on the National Geographic Channel. It's available on demand -- if you have cable and want to check it out. Do I recommend? Eh. It depends on what you like. The series is oddly told -- or has a rather innovative, if jarring, narrative structure. It's based on the book "How We Populate Mars", along with "Packing for Mars", and intertwined with the "scripted" narrative about a trip to create a settlement on Mars in 2033, is a present day documentary detailing how they got there - specifically the science behind the fiction, or what would be required to get to Mars, what risks are entailed, and what is currently being done to make this happen. In short, it's a bit like watching television novella with academic and scientific footnotes. Very odd experience. I found it a bit jarring, much in the same way that I find reading books with footnotes jarring. Mainly because I'm incapable of ignoring the footnotes, and so disrupt my reading to look at them. Here, you don't have much choice. At various breaks in the action, you jump back in time to a documentary explaining the science behind it.

In the second episode, we have the death of the commanding officer on Mars juxtaposed with the deaths on the Space Shuttle Columbia, Apollo 13, and a man who is spending a year in space, while his daughter explains how much she misses him. This is interspersed with interview footage of the team journeying to Mars. I got a bit lost in that episode, or rather my attention kept wandering.

It does get better. The series is at its best when they are problem solving. The human relationships feel a bit stilted. Mainly because the format doesn't quite lend itself to human relations. Way too much telling and not enough showing in that area. But with the problem solving, the juxtaposition of documentary with scripted story -- of what it would be like to go to Mars, does work. Like I said, it's a bit similar to reading a sci-fi novel with footnotes.

Captivated me enough to stick with it. Partly because I am a bit of a space nerd. I find the whole idea of journeying to a distant planet fascinating. And the science behind it -- compelling.
But I'm not sure you'd enjoy it if you weren't a space nerd.

Okay, off to bed. I'm up writing past 9 again. Can't help myself. I write better at night for some reason. Takes a while for my thoughts to gell, and they tend to do it best when I'm relaxed, which is at night.
shadowkat: (Default)
When writing I've noticed that I struggle with the following bits:

1. Comma placement. A lot of times it makes no logical sense to me. If something doesn't track logically, I don't remember it. I can't remember things that do not make sense to me logically.
It can't just be an arbitrary rule that someone came up with while sitting on the potty.

2. Affect/Effect. For some reason my mind flip them. I've no clue why.

3. It's and its. Also flips them.

4. Then and than -- screw this up all the time.

There's others I'm certain. My mind often is moving faster than my fingers can type, so my fingers often type the wrong things. Or there is a disconnect between my mind and my fingers. It's worse with oral communication -- I'll often say a word that is the opposite of what I'm thinking or not what I'm intending to state at all, and worse, not realize it. It's a sort of ephasia that I have no control over. Very irritating.

Example? I was talking to my mother about Sherlock. And said that the whole bit with Watson and the bus driver should have been told in real time. My mother said -- "you mean the bus rider, it wasn't the bus driver." Me - "Oh, I thought I said bus rider."

I worry about the details, because more often than not they trip me up. I can't count the number of times I've been blasted on the internet for screwing up on a detail. Or forgetting to fact-check a point.

It can make it difficult to write at times.
shadowkat: (Default)
On the whole DW move and why LJ moving to Russia servers bothered many of us, enough, to move over to DW.

It's notable that quite a few Russian and Ukrain bloggers also jumped over.

The US and Russia have different laws, particularly in regards to free speech and content ownership. While for the most part, Russian copyright law follows Western European conventions, there are a few differences. Less so now than before.

So, it depends on what you are blogging about. If you only blog about cultural things or what you did each day or your pets and kids, no issues. If however, you blog about politics, world affairs, and economics - you might want to jump over to DW.
shadowkat: (Default)
Finally some new "Sherlock" episodes. I think there are three to four that they filmed for 2017. Not positive.

Whether you like "Sherlock" has a great deal to do with whether you like this particular portrayal of the Great Detective, the actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, the writers - Moffat and Gatis, and Martin Freeman as Watson. If any of the above irritate or turn you off for any reason, you won't like Sherlock. It is what it is. (shrugs). And let's face it there have been numerous portrayals of Sherlock not to mention versions over the years to choose from. Which one you personally prefer has more to do with you than much else. One of my New Year's resolutions is not to argue over inconsequential things. Or people's personal preferences. It's a waste of time and not very good for my blood pressure.


Anyhow, I liked last night's episode quite a bit. Had some interesting twists and turns. That said Mark Gatis's plotting was a bit off in places, so I kept getting lost and having to rewind. The series has the irritating habit of skipping over stuff, then going back and showing it long after the fact and often when the audience has forgotten about it. Which is a neat narrative trick, but risks losing the audience if done poorly. They did a bit too much of it. (I don't think it was necessary in regards to John Watson. Mary and Sherlock, yes, possibly but not John too. That was overkill. spoiler ))

Also, at times, I felt the performances and direction was tad too manic. Such as the birth of Rosalind in the car and Holmes obsession with texting everything all the time. Humorous but over the top. Lacked subtlety. That said, I get why they did it, and it was to a degree effective satire of our world's obsession with cell phones and texting constantly. I've seen people texting all the frigging time as well. At the dinner table. In theaters. In cabs. At major events. I have no idea what they are saying or texting about that could be so vitally important. And I think that was the writer's point -- except here Sherlock is solving multiple crimes via text. We have John Watson's irritation with texting - and preference for blogging as a counter-point. Effective in places, but also over-done.

Other than that? I liked the episode a great deal and found the unraveling of the mystery interesting and sad. Not among the more uplifting episodes. Didn't realize how much I'd missed the series.
spoilers )
shadowkat: (Default)
Everything but my icons made it over to DW. Well one made it over. Not a problem. Needed updating anyhow. The mass exodus to DW after the confirmation about LJ moving its servers to Russia was rather funny. "ACK Russia may delete all our content, hack and/or censor us! I know, let's all hop over to dreamwidth, Stat!" Whoosh! 100,000 new subscriptions in a day. DW was a bit blown away by it, but in a good way. Apparently most of the influx was Russian and Ukraine users. Although not everyone migrated. (Whether or not you migrated or mirrored your content probably has a lot to do with how often you post and how much you care about your content?)

Hopefully this will cross-post since the other posts failed to.

I spent last night binge-watching Once Upon a Time, after attempting to watch Poldark. The first episode of Season 2 Poldark did not hold my attention for some reason. Too much brooding, not enough forward momentum. So chose to skip all the episodes in between and watch the final one. Since my mother spoiled me on the plot this wasn't a problem. Yep, too much brooding music and montages and not enough action. The series has serious pacing issues, it makes The Crown and Downton Abbey seem rather fast-paced by comparison.

Yes, I'm using this weekend or rather the past week to tear through the 42 some hours of saved television episodes on my DVR. Deleting 9 episodes of Poldark, after only watching two, helped considerably.

OUAT was...better than expected. Had a few interesting twists. Somewhat disappointed with the direction they took Rumple and Belle's kid. He turns out to be the villain. Also, poor Rumple, he has the worst parents. Peter Pan and the Dark Fairy. (What, Tinkerbell wasn't available? OR maybe it was Tinkerbell?) Meanwhile, Regina and Emma are stuck in the Wishverse that the Evil Queen (Regina's split off alter ego) wished Emma into. Not to worry, the Evil Queen got what she deserved, Rumple and Belle's kid turned her into a chained cobra and stuck her in a cage. So Killion is the son of the dark one and raised by the dark fairy, oh joy. Regina and Emma are stuck, because instead of jumping through the portal back to Storybrook when they had the chance, Regina got distracted by the Wishverse's version of Robin Hood. So let the portal close. Oh, and Snow and Charming are kept apart by a pesky sleeping curse -- when one is asleep, the other is awake. Not sure why they didn't just use Aladdin's lamp to undue the curse? Possibly because they were worried about potential side-effects. And it's too easy from a writer's perspective.

Also saw the fall season finale of Timeless (they do that now, fall season finales, go on hiatus for two months, then come back again. Sometimes just a month). Not sure why television series are afraid of airing in December and January, but they are. (Well, no, I do know. It's about sweeps. They have about 22 episodes, and they have to make sure the better ones air during the sweeps months, when advertisers check to see who is watching and air expensive commercials.) They do need to change that show up a bit, and they sort of did with the finale. Now we're chasing Flynn and Lucy, who he kidnapped. Although I'm not quite sure why he kidnapped her. Maybe to stop her from continuously getting in his way? (shrugs)

Saw The Doctor Who Christmas Special aka "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" -- which was quite funny in places. Sort of Moffat's sardonic take on invasion of the body snatchers meets superman.

Lucy: "Tell me who the Ghost is!"
The Doctor: "You seem to be rather clever, Mrs. Lombard, why haven't you figured it out for yourself by now?"
Lucy:" I know you know."
The Doctor (looking at The Ghost aka Lucy's nanny, Grant): "The question is why don't you?"
Lucy: "Tell me."
The Doctor looking at Grant who is shaking his head: "I'm sorry, some situations are just too stupid to be allowed to continue."

Grant takes off. Did take me a while to figure out who the fat bald-headed guy following The Doctor about was. I'd skipped most of the Peter Capadali/Clara arc. Did see the Many Husbands of River Song, so knew he was tucked away with River for about 24-25 years, until she had to go to The Library to die. So, now, he's a bit empty and sad, also rather cynical. Capadali works better for cynical and worldly than the past two doctors did. Each one is a bit different.

Watched Designate Survivor -- which a co-worker loves. Mainly because we both secretly want that to actually happen. (The premise is that during a state of a union address everyone but the designated survivor (a cabinet member) and a congresswoman, dies in a bombing of the Capital.) Yes, you know things have reached a sorry state with your federal when you sort of think the Designate Survivor premise isn't a bad idea. Hey, do that. Of course with our luck, the designated survivor would be someone like Sarah Palin. The television show itself isn't bad -- except once again, much like The West Wing, I like the guy playing the President better than our new President-Elect. Can we please have Keifer Sutherland's Tom Kirkman instead of DJT??? Please? With sugar on top? Damn.

Now watching Younger which is rather spot-on satire of the print publishing industry in NYC. It brings back memories...and makes me happy that I jumped careers and industries in my 30s.


May jump to Netflix soon to either watch The Crown or Sense8.

Should work on my book. Should do a lot of things. But hey, I need a people free, lazy weekend.
Going to be a busy couple of months.
shadowkat: (Default)
The year in music, although these songs are more about how events resonated in my head musically. I can't say many musicians released anything that hit a chord inside me.

1. I am not throwing away my shot from Hamiliton
I'm not throwing away my shot performed at the White House )

2. Look up Here, I'm in Heaven by David Bowie
Look up here, I'm in Heaven )

3. Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right...here I am stuck in the middle with you by the Steelers
Read more... )
4. I got sunshine in my pocket
Read more... )
5. Purple Rain by Prince
Read more... )
6. Brave by Sara Bareilles
Read more... )
7. You Want it Darker by Leonard Cohen
Read more... )
8. A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall - by Bob Dylan as song by Patti Smith
Read more... )
9. Come Healing by Leonard Cohen
Read more... )
10. For What It's Worth by Stephen Stills
Read more... )
11. Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkle as sung by Disturbed
Read more... )
12. Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me - by Elton John as sung by George Michael
Read more... )
13. If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out by Cat Stevens
Read more... )
14. Princess Leia singing a Day of Peace...in the Holiday Star Wars Special aired in 1978 - Carrie Fisher
Read more... )
15. Singing in the Rain - Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor
Read more... )

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