Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TV is back and the DVR piles up

I tend to do a lot of my TV chatter on the Twitter but, for an overall recap, it's easier to do that in longer form so, as it stands so far...
-"Sleepy Hollow" returned and was the brand of nutbar adventure I expect. 
-"Red Band Society" is a show teen Tara would have had quotes from posted in her locker.  I'm sticking with it even if adult Tara can see them yanking at my heartstrings.  Plus, who can resist sassy nurse banter.  Not me folks.  Not me. 
-"Gotham" struck me as a little too comic booky in parts of the dialogue.  I realize it is a show about a comic book city, but, there are things that work in comics that sound dumb in TV.  However, I ultimately thought the layers of corruption they established in an hour was fascinating enough to keep going for a bit.  I also think in addition to the expected excellence of the McKenzie and Logue partnership of grizzled and new to town cop, Jada Pinkett Smith's work was amazing. 
-"Blackish" was charming as expected from Anthony Anderson and Tracy Ellis-Ross, if a little heavy handed with the voiceover.  Nice family comedy.
-"Selfie" I watched early, and, eh, I wanted to like it more than I did.  The commercials lead me to believe that ultimately they will both learn from each other so I'll give it a few more because I like the leads a lot. 
-"Nashville" I have fallen behind on and must catch up before my DVR starts taunting me. 
-"Brooklyn 99" was just as charming as it had been. 
-"How to Get Away WIth Murder" which I was notionally open to anyway turned out, in it's first episode at least, to share a lot of parallels with "Legally Blonde" and I seriously, totally, and completely love "Legally Blonde" so yay!  (It is a darker "Legally Blonde" given that, well, there's flash forwards to a body being dumped, so, looks like those kids will need to put this knowledge to use.) 

Upcoming or things I haven't gotten to yet:
-"Happyland" - Color me excited.
-"Gracepoint" - I watched some of "Broadchurch" so technically have no need to watch "Gracepoint" but, for some reason I am interested in how it works with American accents. 
-"Reign" is coming back and while it should offend the part of me that won't watch innacurate Scottish historical movies, given the glitter on the corsets, they are really making only the tiniest attempt at historical accuracy, and viewing it as "Gossip Girl" with corsets means I find it amusing. 
-"The Flash" - I hear good things about. 
-"Parenthood" - The last season of "Parenthood" is here, and in a packed timeslot, so I will have to catch up on Hulu. 
-"Madam Secretary" has a great cast and so I am hoping it develops into something I want to keep watching. 
-"NCIS: New Orleans" - Again it's the cast pulling me in. 



Monday, September 29, 2014

Week of Book People

It has been quite a week of overlapping events and I will try to summarize somewhat briefly.  Monday, Ann Aguirre, Marie Rutkowski and Caragh O'Brien were all at the Bethesda Library as part of the Fierce Reads tour to talk about their books.  Ms. Aguirre provided instructions if it turned out that your copy of Mortal Danger was infested with demons (you should burn it, after calling a news crew). Rutkowski mentioned her inspiration was partly the economic theory around auctions.  And O'Brien talked about how reality shows provided some inspiration.
Tuesday Piper Kerman, or Keenan as my phone kept trying to say, was at UDC in their newly refurbished theater (so new that apparently crews worked late into the night Monday get the last seats installed).  She talked about the book (which I have read) and the TV show (which I have not yet watched) and also shared various statistics and some suggestions for criminal justice reform that might help the US slow the trend of imprisoning the most people in the world.  She, as in her book, is very aware that she is the one that made a decision that brought prison to her, but also very aware that there are huge differences in how prisons are set up (she was in two during her stay) and how sentences are assigned and how people in prison are treated. 
Friday, I took the day off of work to head up to day one of the Baltimore Book Fest. I started off in the Science Fiction Writer's Tent where the folks from #WeNeedDiverseBooks were chatting.  Ellen Oh, Justina Ireland, Caroline Tung Richmond, and Karen Sandler all talked about books that had been meaningful to them, things they had read that had them shaking their heads, and the joys and challenges of writing characters that don't currently get a lot of protagonist time in most books.  Ireland also mentioned that she felt there are far too many plucky redheads in YA, in proportion to the world population, causing one audience member to shake her head because she had a plucky redhead in her current manuscript. 
Then I hopped next door to the Maryland Romance Writers tent, where there was a panel of writing diverse characters.  Lea Nolan, Robin Covington, Denny S. Bryce, Damon Suede, and Laura Kaye.  They talked about covers, the importance of getting things right, especially if you were dealing with a marginalized group, and also reader perception and misperception. 
The next panel was on plotting, with Stephanie Draven, Lea Nolan, Damon Suede, and Kate Quinn.  They said heretical things like pantsers don't exist (we do too) but also suggested that some pantsers might have more innate plotting skills.  (Maybe.) 
Then there was a panel of authors who had hit the New York Times bestseller list, with Laura Kaye, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Tessa Bailey, Cora Carmack, Kami Garcia, and Jen Mclaughlin.  They has some interesting stories based on what they'd hit with (from first book to eleventh) and where they were when they heard.  After that I headed home.
I had Crafty Bastards and vet appointments on Saturday but returned on Sunday to Baltimore. 
It turns out when there's a football game on, parking is hard to come by, so but caught most of the Alpha heroes panel with Laura Kaye, Diane Alberts, Magda Alexander, Jean Murray, and Tessa Bailey.  They talked about the balancing in keeping an alpha on the right side of alphaness.  (No alphaholes.)
Then there was Writing Fast with Mindy Klasky, Diane Alberts/Jen Mclaughlin, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Megan Erickson, Megan Hart, and Laura Kaye.  There was a mix of word spewers vs. word crafters and I remain impressed by Mindy's detailed scheduling (she already knows what she'll be working on in February 2016) They also talked about how once you've turned something in fast, people expect that sort of speed from you and you may have to push back and demand breaks so you can recover. 
For Balancing Jobs, Writing, And Families, Robin Covington, Avery Flynn, Sara Humhpreys, and M. D. Waters talked about figuring out schedules and boundaries and one author has a side of her family that doesn't know she writes, but she mentioned they still help by volunteering to visit and help with the kids and such. 
I hopped over to the Literary Salon to see Andrew Auseon, Elizabeth Chandler, Hannah Moskowitz, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Elissa Weissman.  They talked about how writing for kids was natural for them, and some of the most amazing things happened in kid's literature. 
And then things wrapped up back in the Maryland Romance tent with Christi Barth, Laura Kaye, Mindy Klasky, and Megan Hart talking about writing at different lengths and how it doesn't seem proportional as far as plotting or writing time, and the challenges inherent in each. 
And that was it.  Let me tell you, I went to bed early last night. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. There are some beautiful quotes from various banned books. 
2. With the MacArthur "genius" grants going out recently, here was a look at what one of them had been doing in studying justice and implicit racial bias
3. Given my interest in names, I was interested to discover Tennesse has some restrictions on your child's last name.  This tied in interestingly with my recent (for me) re-listen to the Freakanomics podcast about names.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week.  And once again, I want to say, I love books, I love reading, I think everyone should do more.  I respect any parent's right to monitor their child's reading habits. Where I become concerned is when parents (because most of this comes from parents) decide that material carefully selected by a librarian with knowledge of the community should not be available to anyone.  Certainly, material in elementary school libraries will have some differences from college or public libraries.  But your child may or may not be ready for something another child is.  And well, if your argument is that this book shouldn't exist at all, then I cannot agree.  I certainly don't like everything I read.  I sometimes want my money, time, or brain space back.  I sometimes vibrate with rage over something stupid or offensive I read in a book. But that doesn't mean that book might not speak to someone else very differently.  And hey, that's the way the world works.
I also find it fascinating that parents think reading books that are "bad" or "racist" or "stereotypical" or that depict sex or violence couldn't be excellent discussion points.  At some point, part of the process is recognizing that the world contains lots of things you either don't want your kid to ever do, or don't want them to do yet.  No one ever objects to kids reading about driving or voting before they hit they age we have deemed it appropriate for them to do so. I read Huck Finn very young and managed not to run away on a riverboat or use language that is not appropriate for use in today's conversations. 
I personally think the idiots in Wuthering Heights needed a good talking to, but other people love their yearning.  I'm not mad I had to read the book. 
This year I was thrilled to see several examples of kids making use of social and other media to object to books being puled from their library or their curriculum.  I wish they didn't have to fight these fights at all, but at least they are learning how to fight for themselves.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Three Interesting Things

...are arriving a wee bit late.
1. There are changes afoot with at least two of epub sellers making books available only through an app or on a store specific device.  There's some more info about it here and how to tell which format the book is available in before you buy. B&N info here.
2. A fellow writer tipped me to Godchecker where I confess I discovered that there is a fascinating amount of info about various gods and goddesses housed there.  Warning: can lead to lost productivity.
3. And because I have been hanging with just the right sort of people, I happen to know one of the folks in this photo of Regency costumed Jane Austen enthusiasts who reclaimed the world record for, well, folks in Regency costume.