Dave McKean

Wednesday reading — adapted screenplay

What I've been reading

Well, I've mostly been watching the Olympics, except for when I've been watching the Olympics and a baseball game at the same time. (That's pretty disorienting, especially when the announcers start talking about gymnasts warming up in the bullpen.)

But I did reread "The Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang—just the novella, not the whole short story collection—after I saw the trailer for Arrival during the Olympics and was very confused by the idea of a movie being made out of that story as I remembered it, although I wasn't entirely sure how well I remembered it.

On reread, the trailer definitely has them changing a bunch of stuff about the setup for no immediately apparent reason that isn't necessarily important either way, but makes me wonder even more how on earth they've attempted to represent the important part of the story, which the trailer doesn't even really hint at. Which, I mean, it shouldn't; that would be horribly spoilery. But I'm so curious! How did they even end up making a movie out of something so seemingly unfilmable? I'm so curious now!

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Wednesday reading — good and bad luck

What I've been reading

I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Thanks to the long time between the play opening and the script being published, it was the first time I consumed a Harry Potter book (-like object) without it being a scrupulously-unspoiled experience. I did start out avoiding the spoilers, but it ended up being untenable.

spoilersCollapse )

I read The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It, a really entertaining collection of oral history. Deservedly a classic.

I read But Didn't We have Fun?: An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843-1870, which covers even earlier days than The Glory of Their Times. I was personally looking for more about gameplay and how it changed during that time period, which this book touches lightly on but focuses more on changes in attitudes towards playing baseball at all, and also the shift from local amateur teams to recruiting professional teams, which is also very interesting.

I read Full of Briars, an novelette in the October Daye series but with Quentin as the POV character, and i don't know why. I mean I do know why, because I still keep up with the series and I like Quentin, but then I feel like Seanan McGuire's writing really only works for me with a POV character who fits within this very circumscribed range that is her sweet spot and this…does not fall within that range. At all. Also the whole encounter with Quentin's parents just fell unbelievably flat. I dunno, this made me actively less excited for the next actual Toby book, which is not great.

I read Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball, which follows a pretty good number of minor league players and managers (plus an umpire and a groundskeeper) through a minor-league season.

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Wednesday reading — boggling

What I've been reading

I read Whatever Life Throws at You, a young adult/new adult romance novel (I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, which I believe makes me an old adult) about how the daughter of the Kansas City Royals' new pitching coach falls in love with their new hotshot rookie pitcher. My expectations were low; I was mostly curious and expecting to be mildly entertained by how it depicted, or more likely failed to depict, the town where I live. It delivered roughly what I expected, occasional moments of semi-accuracy amidst a lot of blandness.

What transfixed me, though, was the author's complete and utter lack of understanding of how a major league pitching staff functions. I suffered through all the boring, poorly-written romance bits just to see what insane pitching changes they were going to make next. At one point, the hotshot rookie pitcher/love interest pitched at least three innings every day for four days in a row. They appear to use starting pitchers in relief constantly, but I think this is just a misunderstanding about what the terms "ace" and "number five pitcher" actually mean, because elsewhere there is a reference to a "number five mid-relief pitcher, which is…not a thing.

Then there's this gem from the deciding game of the ALCS against the Yankees:
The other starter was coming off four days in a row of pitching and Brody was fresher and more ready, so his name got pulled from the roster.

That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.

I think my favorite part, though, is where Brody is throwing a perfect game in the World Series—because of course he is—and he's already been named Rookie of the Year—because of course he has, even though that doesn't even happen until the World Series is over—and apparently he's been relying either entirely or almost entirely on a mid-nineties fastball, with his slider and curveball being described as "newer pitches" that he's still "trying." What? No. No way has he even been starting without commanding, at a bare minimum, two pitches that he can mix effectively, much less is throwing a perfect game, much less is he throwing a perfect game in the World Series. Especially since his arm fell off from overuse months ago.

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Slash different.

Wednesday reading — take me out

What I've been reading

I read The Girl in the Spider's Web, the continuation of the Millennium books, because I was just mildly curious enough (mostly about shippy stuff, TBH) even though I didn't think it looked very good. It, in fact, wasn't very good, and didn't really do anything I liked with the shippy stuff either. Cut more to spare you from boredom than from spoilers.Collapse ) So, meh.

Also, I'm sorry, Lisbeth was the world's biggest Apple fangirl. You can't just have her go switching platforms all abruptly like that. And there was nowhere near enough quoting the specs of actual computers. I expect this from my Millennium books!

I read The View from the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman's collection of selected nonfiction. A lot of the bits I'd already read, but they're still much handier to have collected in one place, and I had missed out on gems like this aside from an introduction to Bone:
The first time I read Moby-Dick, as a boy of ten, I read it for the exciting bits (and finished it convinced that it would make a terrific comic; then again, I recall, at about the same age, finishing King Solomon’s Mines utterly certain that it would make a brilliant musical. I must, in retrospect, have been an odd child)

I read The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America by Joe Posnanski, whom you may know as the guy who wrote that blog entry about taking his 14-year-old daughter to see Hamilton. (That was a piece of fandom cross-pollination that I was not expecting.) It's a really lovely book, both really personal and intensely focused on its subject.

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Dave McKean

Wednesday reading — through the wardrobe

What I've been reading

I read Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan Maguire's novella about a boarding school for kids who have returned from portal fantasies, because I liked the idea so much that even though most of the non-spoilery reactions I'd seen were pretty neutral on the execution, I thought it couldn't be all that bad, and anyway, it was short. I definitely did not expect to hate it as much as I did.Collapse )

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Mai Yamani

Wednesday reading — essays on Bujold

What I've been reading

I read Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I felt like a lot of the essays tended towards bland summaries with the occasional dash of critical namechecking without ever actually saying much. There is some good stuff in the essays on disability, and I liked the essay about the use of alternate history in the Five Gods books. The essay on the Sharing Knife books maybe does the most to really dig into them and see what makes them tick, maybe because they are relatively unpopular.

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Wednesday reading — explorations

What I've been reading

I read Girls Standing on Lawns, which is a sort of multimedia collection containing vintage snapshots from MoMA's collection, paintings inspired by said photographs, and bits of text by Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket). I'm not sure how much the latter two elements really add to the original photographs, but I like the idea of the collaboration anyway. I scanned a bunch of old family photographs of a similar vintage and girls standing on lawns were everywhere.

I read Bertram Cope's Year, which caught my eye when lysimache read it. It's so odd to think that it was actually published in 1919—self-published and to a pretty cool reception, from the sound of it, but still. Without being explicit as such it's very frank about its gay characters, especially their various foibles. I could personally have done with a little less of the A-plot of single girls hopelessly throwing themselves at the hapless Bertram Cope and a lot more of the tensions among the various male characters, but so it goes.

I read The Worst Night Ever, the sequel to Dave Barry's middle grade book The Worst Class Trip Ever. Owing to not being set during a class trip, it returns to Miami, which is where Dave Barry's work comes closest to approaching realism, and it made me laugh muliple times.

I read Sex with Shakespeare: Here's Much to Do with Pain, but More with Love. You might recall that Jillian Keenan wrote that Modern Love column about her spanking fetish; this is the much longer version of that story, with a lot more imagined conversations with Shakespeare characters. I related pretty hard.

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Junie B.

Wednesday reading — amphibians and dragons

What I've been reading

I read The Frogs and Toads All Sang, a collection of silly poems written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel for private distribution among his friends, which were rediscovered and published a few years back with the illustrations remastered by his daughter, Adrienne. They are super charming and fun.

What I'm reading now

The new Temeraire book, except slowly because I don't really want it to end.

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shoulder reading

Wednesday reading — family problems

What I've been reading

I read Birds, Beasts and Relatives and Fauna and Family, the second and third volumes of Gerald Durrell's memoirs about his childhood on Corfu, which I had to request as interlibrary loans. As the introduction to the second book promises, he left a lot of the best stories out of the first book; both of these books lean more towards funny stories about his family and funny stories about his various animals with a little less rhapsodizing about nature, which is about where my sweet spot is.

I read My Sister Rosa, which is the followup to Liar that I've been wanting Justine Larbalestier to write which she has failed to provide for me until now. I mean, it doesn't do anything like that particular narrative thing that Liar does, but it's another ridiculously gripping, ridiculously creepy book, this time about a boy trying to keep the world safe from his little sister, who he clearly sees is a sociopath (which is also set in contemporary New York, so it's not like they have nothing in common). Loved it, couldn't put it down, definitely would recommend.

I reread "There are Rocks in My Socks!" Said the Ox to the Fox to make sure that I still thought it was readaloud-worthy before I inflicted it on a friend as a baby shower gift. I remember we acquired a copy somewhere when I was long past the age of being read to but I used to read it repeatedly to my little brother, in spite of the fact that it was pretty beat up and a previous owner had scribbled in pen throughout. It's too bad it's not in print.

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