Summer update

July 23, 2019

It’s that point in the month where I realize I’d better get going on all the things I said I was going to finish by the end of the month.

A couple of reminders:

The Jean Cocteau Cinema has signed books by me for sale.

My long review of the film Tolkien, and mini-critique of the genre of Idyllic English Schoolboys Do Things, is up at Lightspeed.

I’m behind on movies. I don’t even know what’s showing, which isn’t like me at all.

TV? I’m trying to catch up on last year’s season of Supergirl, that’s how far behind I am. And guys, I gotta tell you, it’s a slog. The standard 23 episode season isn’t really designed to be binged, and feels interminable after the short streaming seasons. It’s like you need that whole week between episodes to forget just how bad it all is, but when you watch episodes back to back, all you see is how bad it is.

I still like the show’s positive ethos. I love that it has rooms full of professional, sharp women solving problems. But holy cow there are times when all these characters are dumb as bricks. The entire plot is built on characters keeping stupid secrets from each other for stupid reasons. There’s a point where Kara is explaining why she can’t tell Lena she’s Supergirl, and I’m thinking, “Lena is literally the only person in that room who doesn’t know, how the hell does this make any sense.”

And the heavy-handed “issue” episodes are groaningly, agonizingly bad. Like, fine, include issues. Have ripped-from-the-headlines stories, sure. But having the characters deliver lectures cribbed from FB memes? Having deep important issues suddenly be relevant for all of ten minutes and then never mentioned again?  It’s painful. Just stop.

I think for next season I’m going to watch all the DC crossover episodes and skip the rest.

This is why it’s been really hard for me to find something to watch. Apparently my tolerance has bottomed out this summer.



So I’ve made it through all 19 seasons of Midsomer Murders available on Netflix. “I don’t know what to watch I guess I’ll just put on Midsomer Murders while I sort the yarn stash” has come to an end. This is going to take some adjusting.

I have thoughts. Like, watching the evolution of the show in a short amount of time is interesting. About halfway through, people of color suddenly start appearing, and the show progressively becomes more diverse. Also about halfway through, the detectives start rescuing the would-be final murder victim at the last minute, as if the showrunners realized that having three or four murders in sequence was making Barnaby & Co. look rather incompetent. How many people would live if they could just figure things out sooner?

I could rate the sergeants, that would be fun. Troy might still be my favorite and not just because he’s first, but because his personality seemed more distinct. Vaguely clueless, still awfully brave, and so on.  My least favorite is the guy who only lasted like three episodes, departed with an off-hand comment about being out sick, and was literally never spoken of again. (All the other sergeants at least get a mention, if not a future guest appearance.)

Playing “where else have I seen that actor?” is a huge amount of fun on this show, because I think just about everyone from the BBC Jane Austen films shows up sooner or later. And Doctor Who. The best was probably seeing the one with Olivia Colman right after seeing her in The Favorite.  It was also massively startling when John Nettles, aka Tom Barnaby, showed up in my binge watch of Robin of Sherwood. British acting really does seem like a tiny, tiny world sometimes.

The same themes come up over and over again. The same patterns, and I’m not sure if these are things that are actual concerns in rural British life, or if they’re common tropes in English cozy mysteries, or if they’re just things that make for easy mysteries on this particular show. The newcomer starting a business that will “destroy village life.” The landed gentry fallen on hard times and having to face selling or converting the use of the country manor. The business based on some new technology moving in and causing suspicion. A person vanished ten or twenty or fifty years ago returns. The local person become famous for art/music/writing/something and then ownership of that thing causes strife. It’s a lot of traditional conflicts of old vs. new, upper vs. lower class, and so on.

And is every pub scene filmed in the same pub or is that just me?

I think my favorite episode, or at least the one I’ve thought about the most, is “Death and Dreams,” from series 6. This is the one with the three psychopathic children who systematically and gleefully murder all their mother’s potential suitors, and then it comes out that their father did not die by accident in a mountaineering outing but was pushed. This one stuck with me I think because of the visceral horror of it. Not the blood and guts kind of horror, but the profane kind of horror. The sheer psychological ick of it.  Their mother is an old friend of Barnaby’s. The episode ends with him preparing to explain to her what has happened. We don’t get that explanation, or the reaction, on screen, which is probably for the best. But it’s that elided moment that I can’t get out of my mind. She’s a psychologist, her children–all of them–are monsters. What is she going to do with that?  The episode takes us right to the edge of that cliff, and it’s gut-turning.

This is also the episode with the obsessive marching band that made me realize that I think I understand The Prisoner much better after watching this show. Village life, indeed.

I can’t remember which episode it is, but it’s about my favorite exchange in the whole show:

Jones:  “This village is weird.”

Tom Barnaby:  “Jones, they’re all weird.”


TV watching update

April 29, 2019

So while everyone else is watching “Game of Thrones,” I’m catching up on season 3 of “Mr. Robot,” because that’s how we roll over here.

I am even more convinced that “Mr. Robot” is the greatest cyberpunk film/TV thing ever. They keep raising the stakes and it captures the anti-corporate hacker social commentary aesthetic so dead on. Fantastic style and musical choices to boot. Love it.



I’ve posted a story at Curious Fictions:  “Just Another Word” is about the time Janis Joplin met the Queen of Faerie. It originally appeared in Realms of Fantasy in 2010. Almost ten years ago. Sheesh. Don’t forget to subscribe to my page if you want to keep up with my stuff there, or if you feel like buying me a coffee, put a couple bucks in the tip jar. Or I might get a cup of tea. You get the idea. Thank you for reading!

My longish review of Mortal Engines is up on Lightspeed.  In a perfect world this would have been the giant beautiful steampunk epic we’ve all been waiting for, but it had a few too many problems and came just a few years too late to really hit. Also, it should have been a 10 episode series, probably.

There’s so much amazing new TV that everyone is talking about incessantly, and I just keep going back and watching 20 year old mystery series. I’m on Brother Cadfael, starring Derek Jacobi right now.  I’m not sure what it says about current events that I’m finding so much comfort in submerging myself in Norman England over these last couple of weeks.

Update!  One more link for you, just to remind you that Kitty/KNOB swag like t-shirts and coffee mugs exists and you can have some for your very own. Click on the link!


more Robin of Sherwood

March 18, 2019

All right, I have binged the entirety of “Robin of Sherwood” in the space of about two weeks.

On one level, this show is deeply silly. Like, who knew there were so many Satanic cults hiding in so many medieval abbeys? So many witches, so many fur-covered Welsh barbarians. Was that a thing? And my memories of the show were that it was actually the god Herne watching over the band of outlaws, but no, it’s just a guy living in a cave wearing a deer head and everybody just goes along with it? Why?

And yet, the whole thing is so earnest and so full of heart. Well. It’s just lovely. I would still be watching if there were more episodes.

AND…I just know there’s some amazing slashfic out there involving, like, everyone, in every possible configuration, up to and including Old Robin/New Robin.

No, I don’t want links. It’s enough know it’s out there.


Robin of Sherwood

March 1, 2019

I’m still on my Robin Hood obsession. On my fourth novel and now starting in on movies.

So, this. Robin of Sherwood, the British TV series from the early 80’s that was absolutely iconic for many of my generation. The Clannad music. Michael Praed’s pretty, pretty mullet. The weird paganism. I was always aware of the show — it aired in the U.S. on PBS or on Showtime or something like that. I didn’t watch it with any kind of consistency, but I caught a few episodes here and there. The thing about this show is you really only need to catch a few episodes for it to imprint hard. You never forget it.

Turns out it’s streaming on Amazon Prime. So… I’ve watched a few episodes, for the first time in probably 30 years. How does it hold up?

It’s delightful. I’m enjoying it immensely. The weird paganism is still weird, the birdsong is so loud like all the time, and it seems to anticipate some of the Robin Hood tropes that have become standard since then:  a Muslim character, the narcissistic and sadistic Sheriff ala Alan Rickman but half a decade earlier, and so on.  Or is this how some of those tropes entered the mainstream? Hmm….

But what I like most is the hugging. There’s so much hugging and back slapping and hair ruffling and so on among the Merry Men and it’s just so pleasant. These people like each other!  There’s an episode where Will Scarlet, played by a young and burly and kind of hot Ray Winstone, declares to the gang, almost tearfully, “I would give my life for every single one of you.”

So that’s why I’m going to keep watching, to spend time with these endearing people who really care about each other, because apparently that’s my thing now.



January 29, 2019

Yesterday was my birthday!

I had a pretty mello day, mostly staying in and keeping warm and drinking wine.

And watching the first episode of season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery. I thought I could stay away but it keeps dragging me back in! Mostly because I wanted to see what Captain Pike is all about.

I realized, though, that Tilly perfectly embodies all of my feelings about the show. Like, she’s adorable and great and I love her! But what’s her actual job on the ship? Like, she’s an ensign, in a training program, but she’s on the bridge and doesn’t seem to have an actual post, and now she’s in engineering, and now she’s in charge of mission-critical projects and giving orders and things, and I don’t really understand any of this and none of it makes a lick of sense…