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July

So, heartonsnow said that I had to post something. That was more than a week ago actually, but I still haven't thought of anything worth posting. Still, let's see where this goes. I'll start with books, as that's easy.

So, I've read quite a bit of stuff since I last posted. There was the final Temeraire book, which was rather a damp squib to be honest. I don't want to go into specifics because of spoilers, but it was a ho hum ending to say the least! Still, I'll forgive it, as earlier books in the series really were very good indeed. And I read The Grapes Of Wrath, which is one of those books you always feel you ought to read. It was good, if a bit grim. Somewhat Moby Dick in its habit of winding all about the houses, but at least Steinbeck managed to keep all his meanderings relevant, which is more than can be said for Melville. An interesting mix of fiction and social history, and clearly aiming for capitalism's jugular. Basically it's a five hundred page Springsteen song. I'm glad I read it, but it was definitely solo acoustic Springsteen, and I'm an E Street Band fan. If I'm going to sit through five hundred pages of Springsteen, I want at least a little Max Weinberg to brighten things up a bit. (I'm quite pleased with that analogy, but it strikes me that it's unfathomable to anybody who isn't a Springsteen fan. Ah well).

After that I read The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. I've always wanted to try some Bester, partly because he's supposedly the science fiction author, and partly because one of my favourite Babylon 5 characters was named after him. It was absolutely terrific, anyway. The main character was an unlikeable sod, which is usually a turn off for me in a book, but for some reason it didn't matter in the slightest. Fab book. I shall have to look out more of his stuff. I seem to have been in a classics mood, as I thought next I would give Ngaio Marsh a go. I love Allingham, and Sayers is pretty cool too, but I had never read a Marsh. My mother is going for some sort of world record for the amount of murder squished into a bookcase though, so it wasn't hard to find the first one, A Man Lay Dead, from 1934. Pretty good. Nothing brilliant, but then it was just the first. Good weekend reading, anyway. I was much amused by a line early on about the book's main female character, which described her as having "extremely progressive ideas on acceleration". So thanks to lost_spook she immediately grew Nova Pilbeam's head.

What else? Laramie continues to be fun. I've been watching stray Bonanza episodes as well, because Sundays are built for Bonanza. So my life has been books, and shoot-outs with dastardly outlaws. Also awesome fist fights. Wherever possible, always hire an ex-stuntman as your hero. The results can be truly epic. *happy sigh*

Um. Pictures? As ever, I've been wandering about the place, but let's face it, there's probably a limit to how many pictures of ducks, trees, and Gloucestershire hills that the world truly needs, so have some flowers from the garden instead.

Random clematis:



This is called a penstemon, apparently:



I like it, as it's basically the mouth to Hell:



I bought this packet of seeds called "Sea Of Blue". The slugs ate most of the seedlings, but some survived, and they are indeed blue. Also purple. The black and yellow stripy thing isn't a flower though.



Definitely blue. This poor thing is called a love-in-the-mist, apparently. What it did to deserve such a lousy name is anybody's guess. But it's definitely blue.



Also Freddie is looking good at the moment:



PS: Not that I'm obsessed or anything (that's probably a lie), but I gifed the leaping fishy! Look look!



Hurrah.

I shall now vanish back into the ether for another eighteen and a half years.

Comments

( 28 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
emeraldarrows
Aug. 3rd, 2016 01:23 am (UTC)
Pretty flowers! :D

Love the fish gif. :P
swordznsorcery
Aug. 3rd, 2016 11:45 pm (UTC)
Bouncy fish make me happy. :)
adabsolutely
Aug. 3rd, 2016 04:18 am (UTC)
Been a long time, but I still remember being very moved by Bester's The Demolished Man. Lovely flower pics. Love in the Mist is also known as Nigella if you like that better.
swordznsorcery
Aug. 3rd, 2016 11:48 pm (UTC)
Nigella isn't a brilliant name, but it's not so sappy at least!

And thank you, I shall hunt out "The Demolished Man".
meathiel
Aug. 3rd, 2016 07:08 am (UTC)
I was so disappointed with how Temeraire ended ... it seemed so rushed and just ... blah ... I don't know. Not a real end, I think maybe she'll write another one down the line ... in a few years.

I really like the love-in-the-mist flowers ... pretty!!!
swordznsorcery
Aug. 3rd, 2016 11:50 pm (UTC)
Yes, it did seem rushed. And no proper confrontation with Lien. She's the big bad for ages, and then she just vanishes. A shame.
lost_spook
Aug. 3rd, 2016 07:49 am (UTC)
the first one, A Man Lay Dead, from 1934. Pretty good. Nothing brilliant, but then it was just the first. Good weekend reading, anyway.

I like Ngaio Marsh very much, but she does take a few books to get into her stride. I think about Death in Ecstasy is where she gets going probably? Once she does, she's only rarely off it until about 1980s, though. Of course, she is rather famous for the murders getting later and later. (You get to a point where you forget you're reading a murder mystery and are enjoying this book about theatre/random feckless aristocrats/whatever and then suddenly half the way through somebody dies! Or, you read on and wonder if Inspector Alleyn will ever actually turn up at some point? But she carries it off nicely. You don't mind, though, or I don't anyway. I think the sort of study of groups of odd people before and after the murder is part of her appeal.) One thing is, I always think of her because of that as the mildest, but her murders are the most improbable and grotesque, it's just brilliant. One day I will make a list. (Died in the Wool though probably takes the biscuit.)

I approve of a bookshelf stuffed full of crime novels - can I come and visit your Mum and sit in a corner with my nose in two books at a time?

ETA: LOL at casting Nova Pilbeam! Not a bad person to cast, though.

Edited at 2016-08-03 07:51 am (UTC)
swordznsorcery
Aug. 4th, 2016 02:41 am (UTC)
I'll definitely try more Ngaio Marsh. She certainly sets up scenes and characters well; that much was obvious from the first one. I wasn't sure what to expect from a first book, but it was good. Lost its way a bit with the odd Russian subplot, but the main murder was handled well. Allingham has the edge because I like Campion so much, whereas Alleyn obviously takes a backseat more, and is a much more understated character accordingly, but if the other characters are good, that shouldn't matter.
lost_spook
Aug. 4th, 2016 07:24 am (UTC)
My favourite Marsh is Surfeit of Lampreys while I think possibly the most technically accomplished as a murder mystery is possibly Death at the Bar (but that's just my opinion). Being understated amongst the cluster of eccentric golden age detectives is Alleyn's raison d'etre really, but for me at least, it's a trait that grows on you. :-)

I like your fishy gif btw.
swordznsorcery
Aug. 4th, 2016 11:34 pm (UTC)
Everybody loves a leaping fishy. :)

Having an understated detective in the midst of all those quirky types was a very good idea; and it's no bad thing to focus on the civilians. That way you're sure of never slipping into the old cliche of the murders always happening to friends and family, so that the detective stays centre stage!
pedanther
Aug. 3rd, 2016 04:33 pm (UTC)
The other Alfred Bester novel that people usually recommend is The Demolished Man, which is about a telepathic detective and so is probably the one that the Bab5 character is named after.

Oh, so that's what a penstemon is. There's a character in one of Diana Wynne Jones's novels named Mrs Penstemon.
swordznsorcery
Aug. 4th, 2016 02:43 am (UTC)
"The Demolished Man" has also been recommended above, so I shall definitely look out that one. Interesting title!
heartonsnow
Aug. 3rd, 2016 05:17 pm (UTC)
I had missed seeing you on here!! I am glad you've been reading tho cos I love to read too, I had a big long reading list once!

I never did learn how to make gifs, my niece can make them for me now!!

Flower photos are always lovely cos flowers change every day and are such lovely colours.
swordznsorcery
Aug. 4th, 2016 02:46 am (UTC)
I have a handy program that makes gifs for me!

Flowers are good to take pictures of. They make some fascinating close ups. Also they stand still, which makes them much easier subjects than some other things I could mention! :) (Blasted birds. They always move at the wrong moment!)
heartonsnow
Aug. 4th, 2016 02:00 pm (UTC)
My brother gave me a disc with a gif maker on it but I had no idea what to do with it.

Birds! I have a film clip setting on my camera but I keep forgetting about it! I did a Blackbird singing once!!
swordznsorcery
Aug. 4th, 2016 11:36 pm (UTC)
A film clip facility is good - that's how I got the leaping fishy footage. It tends to be very grainy though, at least on my camera, so not much good for taking still shots from. Fun though.
heartonsnow
Aug. 5th, 2016 11:26 pm (UTC)
Some clips are good and some are grainy and I haven't figured out why yet.
liadtbunny
Aug. 4th, 2016 03:15 pm (UTC)
Reading books? I thought you were only allowed to leave LJ to dig up people's gardens. I've been reading more too: 2016 the year of reading? And watching the defeat of dastardly evil doers;) Sorry to hear the last 'Temeraire' book petered out. Still nine books is a lot of words.

The black and yellow stripy thing isn't a flower though. Lol. Good to see Freddie's doing all right.

:-D to fish gif!
swordznsorcery
Aug. 5th, 2016 02:41 am (UTC)
I seem to have been reading a lot lately. It's weird. I didn't read much of anything for several years, then recently it was like I suddenly remembered how. It's nice! Blimey there's some dross out there though... :)
liadtbunny
Aug. 5th, 2016 03:48 pm (UTC)
Weirder still is finishing a book quickly. I started a non-fic book about hares a couple of weeks ago and now I'm on the next book. How did that happen? Non-fic books take forever to read! Don't they?

I've managed to avoid the dross happily. The last book I read was not as good as I hope though.
swordznsorcery
Aug. 5th, 2016 11:33 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's non-fic that takes a long time to read. Just dull books that do! Non-fic can be awfully dull and turgid, but a good non-fic book can beetle along just as well as any good story.

Are you particularly interested in hares?
liadtbunny
Aug. 6th, 2016 02:07 pm (UTC)
Where I live and where I lived before there were loads of hares so I thought I'd increase my knowledge. Slightly!
dimity_blue
Aug. 5th, 2016 04:46 pm (UTC)
Yay! The fish gif is wonderful! *applauds*

My mum used to like Ngaio Marsh. I've read a number of her books too. My favourite is Black as He's Painted, mainly because the main character gets adopted by a badly treated stray cat. (Happy endings for the cat and MC, btw.)
swordznsorcery
Aug. 5th, 2016 11:39 pm (UTC)
Happy endings for cats are always appreciated. :) And another vote of confidence for Ngaio Marsh. I will definitely try book two soon; even if her first name does keep confusing my typing!
oonaseckar
Aug. 7th, 2016 11:45 am (UTC)
I used to like Ngaio Marsh, although I was mostly reading for the incidental background romances, I think, rather than the detecty goings-on. Patricia Wentworth, also fun.

It is a bit perilous, getting attached to an unfinished series of books. I'm beginning to have doubts about Mercy Thompson out of Patricia Briggs' multiple-book paranormal series. She's... I wouldn't disparage her to the extent of a pejorative like 'Mary-Sue'. But her character flaws are beginning to seem... photogenic, and not quite authentic. Like an 'adorable' gappy-tooth grin on a supermodel. It's not as real as it could be, considering most people have a crack through the heart in one way or another. I'm still hanging in there, though.

I couldn't tolerate the later books in the Anne Shirley series of L.M. Montgomery's, either. Too politically conservative, way too sentimental. Even though I can still snivel a bit over Matthew and Marilla.

solo acoustic Springsteen
Death! Misery! We're all trapped, and then you die! Vote slightly left of centre!

Is the Bester the one where the protagonist's a rapist? *grimaces* Not sure I could stomach it, however good. Even though I love old-school sf.

Re: Laramie/Bonanaza, I've been watching some Howard/Crawford Sherlock Holmes - the fistfights are awesomely terrible! No physical contact is made, I swear, half the time before the assaulted gentleman goes down like a ton of bricks! Maybe they're just swooning at the idea of being biffed.

Hey, there's no such thing as too many duck pics.
swordznsorcery
Aug. 7th, 2016 11:22 pm (UTC)
Just for you then, a duck pic:



And yes, that's the Bester book. They completely skim over the rape at the time, but it's always perfectly clear that he's a complete bastard. He learns the error of his ways as the book progresses, but he's still basically a bastard. Not in a good, "Blake's 7"-y kind of way either. It is a good story, but I can certainly see why it wouldn't be for everybody.

There's an episode of "The Protectors" (1970s 'tec' show from Gerry Anderson) where Paul gets walloped over the head by the bad guys. Or supposedly he does. It's hilariously obvious that the wallop goes nowhere near the back of his head, but he obligingly falls over anyway. Now that is what I call a co-operative hero.
oonaseckar
Aug. 9th, 2016 10:27 am (UTC)
Is that a still-fluffy and slightly awkward teenager in the middle? That's sweet. I feel I've failed to fulfil a lot of punny potential regarding 'duck pics' here. But on the other hand, restraint can be praiseworthy.

The Bester is such a classic and so recc'ed, I might have to read it anyway. I quite like a grim and pessimistic outlook fictionally, but the prospect of a completely unsympathetic antihero is a bit dispiriting.
swordznsorcery
Aug. 9th, 2016 11:28 pm (UTC)
Yes, there's a lot of teenaged ducks about at the moment. They don't up-end themselves in the water quite as well as the adults, but they're getting there!

I knew nothing about "The Stars My Destination" before I read it. Had I done so, I might not have tried it, as generally I'd avoid a book so devoid of likeable people. (The main character is the worst of a largely unpleasant bunch). I'm glad that I did read it though, so if you can get past your understandable reservations, you may find it worthwhile. It all depends on your personal tolerances I guess.
( 28 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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