Monday, 5 April 2021

Wonderful Electric

 Right.  That's the first quarter of the year done.  To aid in the preparation of the end-of-year review/Coven Awards, I thought I'd continue on from January's book post and Happy with a round up of what I've read, watched and listened to so far in 2021.

Read

Lords and Ladies, by Terry Pratchett - A Discworld novel starring the Ramtops witches (Granny Weatherwax, Gytha Ogg, and Magrat Garlick - who is now a queen rather than a witch), in which they thwart an invasion of Elves.

The Sea and Little Fishes, by Terry Pratchett - A short story I read online also featuring the Ramtops witches.

Star Trek: The Lost Era: Well of Souls, by Ilsa J Bick - This is a rather grim, but engrossing story set during the time of the Ambassador-class USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C (2336).  It largely concerns Captain Rachel Garrett's strained relationship with her archeologist ex-husband and son, and her new first officer who has found himself embroiled with a notorious crime syndicate.

Star Trek: The Lost Era: The Art of the Impossible, by Keith R A DeCandido - Another Lost Era story, this one concerning the Betreka Nebula Incident - a dispute between the Klingons and Cardassians, mediated by Federation Ambassador Curzon Dax, spanning the years 2328 to 2346.

Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock, by Christopher L Bennett - A fascinating tale set mainly in The Next Generation era (2360s-80s) that weaves together various of the televised Star Trek universe's instances of time-travel, along with several original temporal trips.  As always, Christopher L Bennett serves up a precise and characterful story that's difficult to put down.

The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red, by Martha Wells - The first novella of The Murderbot Diaries series which I only read because of this wonderful animatic set to Tegan & Sara's "I'm Not Your Hero" that I discovered at Tor.com (and last featured here).  I enjoyed it enough to want to read the next in the series.


The Galaxy and the Ground Within (Wayfarers 4), by Becky Chambers - Another delightful story from the Wayfarer's series (and possibly the last).  This one is about how five very different aliens form a friendship during a disaster, and is just a lovely, warm, character-driven piece with one or two stomach-lurching emotional moments near the end.  Just wonderful!

Watched

Futmalls.com (Netflix) - I was intrigued by the premise of this Taiwanese series: Police investigate three cases which are linked by a shopping website that sells things from the future.  Plus, the lead actor, Bryan Chang, is rather cute!

Superstore (S1-5) (Netflix) - as first mentioned here.   Funny, ridiculous, and a welcome escape from the grinding misery of real life.  There is a sixth season (not yet on Netflix), but I don't think I'm going to watch it when it becomes available over here as I like how things ended in season five (I've read that America Ferrera's lead character, Amy, is only in the first two episodes and I don't like the in-story consequences of Amy's departure).

Invisible City (Netflix) - A Brazilian series about a(n extremely handsome) environmental police officer (who gets his shirt off at least once, thankfully) investigating the death of a pink river dolphin.  During the investigation, he discovers mythological creatures living amongst humans that seem to be linked to the death of his wife.


Staged (S2) (BBC iPlayer) - Michael Sheen and David Tennant return playing "themselves" in this amusing lockdown video-conference series.

[Is love enough?] Sir (Netflix) - I loved this bitersweet Mumbai-set romantic drama about about a man and his maid, and the obstacles of their social and class differences.

A Suitable Boy (BBC iPlayer) - In a newly independent India, a widow tries to set her youngest daughter up with a "suitable boy".  However, her strong minded daughter has other ideas about the arranged marriage, and their extended family's issues don't make things any easier.

Sputnik (Netflix) - A Russian sci-fi horror film set in 1983 about an alien lifeform inadvertantly brought back to Earth.  Rather grim.

Only Yesterday, From Up On Poppy Hill, Whisper of the Heart, Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbour Totoro - Utterly beautiful, charming and enchanting Studio Ghibli animated films, all on Netflix.  I've already started rewatching them.

Space Sweepers (Netflix) - I was really surprised by this heartfelt and emotional South Korean "space western".  The trailer made it seem like a gung-ho action film (some parts are) which put me right off, but it has some wonderful characters and an excellent trans allegory (this review at Tor.com is what made me watch it).

Sorry To Bother You (Netflix) - "White-voice" telemarketing and naked horse-people with huge wangs.  Bizarre.

I Kill Giants (Netflix) - Instead of coming to terms with the absence of her mother, a young girl fights giants.  Or does she?  As the story went on, I got more and more into it, loving what I was seeing, and then came the ending which left me rather disappointed (I had hoped for something more ambiguous).  Oh, well...

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (YouTube) - An excellent documentary (including almost all of the cast) which could have gone on MUCH longer, as far as I was concerned.

 Amongst all that new stuff, I found time for some rewatches: Marvel's The Defenders, Marvel's Jessica Jones (S3), Russian Doll, Special, Alphas, Dead Like Me, Absolutely Fabulous, a smattering of Star Trek, The Meg, and A. I. Artificial Intelligence.

Listened To

 Continued from December's Overheard and Wonky Words, and other posts containing the 'Music' tag/label, here are my most listened to tunes so far this year (a number of which I was introduced to or [re]discovered last year):

From my rather ancient CD player:
Goldfrapp: Black Cherry - Here are my favourite tracks, "Tiptoe" and "Strict Machine" (from which the post title is taken)
 
And from YouTube:
Matt Bianco - Sneaking Out The Back Door (thank you, Ms Scarlet)
 
Tegan and Sara - I'm Not Your Hero (The Murderbot Diaries Animatic)
The Weeknd - Blinding Lights (Breakfast Club Dance Scene)
 
Gustavo Dudamel at the Proms Arturo Márquez Danzón Nº 2 (thank you, Jon)

 
The Ones - Flawless (and the Club Mix)
Gravitonas - Lucky Star (again, thank you Jon)
 
Métisse - Boom Boom Ba (because I've just binge-watched Dead Like Me, as noted above in the 'Watched' section)
Pink Martini - Que Sera Sera (again, from Dead Like Me)

::  ::  ::

 So, see anything familiar?  Or anything take your fancy?  And what have you all been reading, watching, and listening to?

22 comments:

  1. Wait! There was/is/is going to be a war between the Klingons and the Kardashians?! Bring it on. I want to see lasers bouncing off those fat arses! Jx

    PS we really must try and get around to watching Staged at some stage [geddit?!], if it is still available on BBC iPlayer...

    PPS as for our recent watching - just finished our mammoth catch-up of Gavin and Stacey (except for the recent tenth anniversary Xmas special, basically because it is the wrong season altogether for that malarkey), loads of documentaries including the wonderful Blitzed: The 80s Blitz Kids' Story on SkyArts [a channel we have now lost from Freeview 'cos there's something wrong with the aerial that we need to get the landlady to fix], Chris Packham's Animal Einsteins, behind-the-scenes at the V&A, the British Library and the Natural History Museum, and stuff about yomping hikes we're never going to do, fabulous art we'll never own, and lifestyles of fabulously rich people we'll never be (like our very own Royal Family). And we became hooked on Cruising with Jayne McDonald - we'll never go on a cruise [the very thought makes me shudder], but she's is utterly faboo!

    Oh, and Gardeners' World is back!

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    1. PPPS Love the music! [Understandably...]

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    2. Oh, for those Kardashians to be obliterated from an orbital bombardment! They'll be easy targets what with the size of those bottoms.

      Oh, yes, do try and watched Staged - it really is most entertaining. You could probably binge the whole lot in a couple of evenings.

      I have watched bits and bobs of Gardeners World. I liked the city jungle garden featured in the first ep - That's how I'd've liked my Norwich Back Passage to have looked!

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    3. Gardeners' World is (alongside Antiques Roadshow) an absolutely pivotal part of our weekly viewing, and we mourn its absence when it goes off air in Autumn.

      As for "jungle gardening", it's a fabulous idea in theory, but most people (including us) wouldn't have the space to keep all those mainstays of such a scheme (cannas, bananas and the like) over winter - although we have always wanted to grow a Colcassia/Taro! It would need to be treated as an annual, I guess, or else stored like we do with dahlias and begonias. Jx

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    4. Yes, that's the thing with growing exotics - the winter storage. Still, I think you should try a Taro as they are gorgeous!

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  2. Matt Bianco! I never think of them... Whose Side Are You On - back in the day, late night television, this cheap ass music video show that would play the same clips each week, pretty much. Fell in love with them then. Late 80's. Goldfrapp rules. Strict Machine is the first time I heard them. I snagged a free copy at a gay bar on my way out... and have sought them out since. Adore. Tegan & Sara... we don't hear enough of them. Adore The Weeknd. Everything he touches. And Erasure! Adored Drama... bought all the singles. As I read your viewing list and reading list my first thought was... oh, he's making up stuff. This is a parody. LOL. I like Russian Doll. And Superstore, of course. Those are really the most pedestrian things you view. Good for you. I am watching of kilter, unbeautiful rom-coms. Not the pretty ones. They odd ones. Keeps me hopeful? I dunno. I don't watch much. And now with summer here??? Outside I go! Thanks for sharing all this. Kizzes.

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    1. Ms Scarlet got very cross me because until she featured Matt Bianco on her blog not long ago, I hadn't heard of them!

      Strict Machine was my introduction to Goldfrapp, too. Since then I've snapped up most of the singles and all of the albums (except the We Are Glitter remixes because I have most of them as B-sides). I love Erasure - up to a point. I must admit to being less than thrilled with Andy & Vince's later music (from Loveboat onwards), although there are usually one or two tracks on each album that made it worth buying.

      Hah haa haa! I love that you thought some of those books and TV shows were made up! Having said that, some dubious "books" have made it onto my reading list in the past.

      I'm intrigued by these "off kilter, unbeautiful rom-coms". What would you recommend? The only one that comes to mind that I've seen (many times) is Austenland (as featured in the "Most Watched Movie" section here).

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  3. The Brazilian thriller looks interesting, I'll have to see if it's availbe on Netflix here yet.

    I love studio Ghibli (I've been to their museum outside of Tokyo, it's lovely!) The first three mentioned are my least favorites, too slow for me, I hope Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away are available for you to watch.

    We've been finishing up on the lastest season of a few shows here including Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (have a slight crush for that Hobgoblin) and The Magicians, which started so strong, but just not feeling these last two seasons.

    Yesterday I was using my magical sewing skills on a few projects and listening to Tracy Chapman New Beginnings CD which I haven't pulled out for a long time. I was reminded of what an underappreciated songwriter she is.

    I'm so behind on reading but I did manage to fit in an Indie Authors Novella called "Taming Demons for Beginners" and that was a fun little break from research reading.

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    1. Funnily enough, at the beginning of this year, I read a book called Practical Demonkeeping. I saw it on a shelf at my sister's and thought I'd give it a go.

      Oh, I've watched (and re-watched) Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Tales From Earthsea, Ponyo and the like, but last year, so they didn't make this list :)

      I watched the first season of Sabrina, but didn't warm to it, so I didn't bother with the 2nd (is there a 3rd?)

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    2. P.S. You've been to the Studio Ghibli museum?! How I envy you!

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    3. Was Practical Demonkeeping a good book? The one I read was pretty good, not great. It reads Manga-style complete with the tropes and I suspect sex wouldn't happen until book seven. I'm all for delayed gratification, but excessively stringing people out because they can is disingenuous.

      Sabrina has 3 or 4 seasons now. I like that there was a transgender character with an authentic story arc. Even though I'm of the X generation I very much support the Millennials push to let people be accepted for who they are even if its messy and complicated and they don't fit into little boxes. This greatly amuses the hubs, that I can be so old-fashioned in some beliefs and yet so adaptable at the same time. I guess I have a Steampunk spirit! Hahaha

      Did you ever watch Another Life with Katie Sackoff? I was thinking it was "okay" but it really got its claw into with the last two episodes and now I'm looking forward to the second Season. It's very "Millennial." (Nerd Alert: I secretly love ship schematics.) I closely watch the little details and map how ships/vessels are designed in my head. The ship design in the movie "Passengers" was brilliant, but story was lame.

      I found these Studio Ghibli pictures for you on someone else's blog, but yes, you should go! I had planned to go back to Japan this year, but then Covid happened. It's a great country to visit! You could get by with just knowing "Hello", "Thank you" and "Please"

      https://youtu.be/qAtBbgtMnZ8

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    4. PD was rather good, actually. A bit of mythology, a town of actual fleshed out characters, a demon that - despite eating people - was funny and somewhat sympathetic, and a salt-water drinking Djinn.

      I watched the first ep of Another Life but absolutely despised the surly, self-centred, "beautiful ones" crew except for Katie Sackoff (and the super-hot but bonkers first officer). Ms Scarlet also recommended AL, so you're not alone.
      I LOVE ship schematics and diagrams - it's one of my favourite things about Star Trek, and have no end of art/design books on the subject!

      Perhaps if I ever renew my Passport, a trip to Japan would be in order...

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  4. Oh my goodness - I am still listening to the Lucky Star/We Are The People combo!! And I always think of you and Jon when I do! I think of you both and then make a mental note that I really ought to write a post.
    I ought to follow your example and write down all the box sets I've watched. I have just finished watching The Flight Attendant, which was okay. Started watching The Intruder on Channel 5 last night, which has potential, BUT, am totally obsessed with The Circle on C4, and. of course, Line of Duty is back.
    Really need to finish the book I started reading in January 2019.
    Sx

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    1. Ha ha! I'm still listening to that combo, too! Although, I haven't listened to We Are The People as much as Lucky Star which is why it didn't make it onto this list.
      I haven't heard of any of those shows (except Line of Duty) - I shall have to look them up.

      Have you still not finished that 2019 book? Ms Scarlet!

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  5. Damnit you're so highbrow.
    ImI going to do one of these, just with things I've sniffed, things I've peed against and things I've dug up!
    Seriously I will admit to watching a film called Frightmare about a cannibalistic tarot reader....

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    1. Highbrow?! Ha! I thought you'd say "nerdy".

      I bet a sniffed, peed on, & dug up list would be quite fascinating, and would make a welcome change from these rather pedestrian read, watched, & listened to lists.

      Frightmare sounds like it might be quite schlocky - but entertaining?

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  6. Endless ghastly repeats on TV, but the colonial equiv.(see what I did there?) of the Beeb did have a re-run of Gerald Durrell's family life on Corfu so I watched that. And I have just finished "Spy of Venice" about Will Shakespeare by Benet Brandreth. I think I'd rather read Shakespeare. Moving on now to Simon Winchester's "Land." More rain so more seedling-weeding...

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    1. Oh, I keep meaning to watch that new(ish) Gerald Durrell drama, but just haven't got around to it yet. I vaguely remember the old one with Brian Blessed and those "magenpies" - and I read "My Family and Other Animals" at school of course.

      Good luck with all those weeds!

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  7. I'm about to start reading Rickie Lee Jones' autobiography, "Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of an American Troubadour."

    I'll be surprised if there's any mention of Star Trek in the book.

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    1. Funnily enough, Rickie Lee Jones had a small non-speaking part as one of the children in the original series episo-

      Just kidding!

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  8. I found it almost impossible to read fiction this past year (tyvm COVID-19), BUT after being fully vaccinated I seem to feel far more relaxed and fiction receptive! So, it's back to mysteries and thrillers for me! Started with Tana French and now it's Ruth Ware! TV binging has been a French (with subtitles) series called "Murder In..." and set in various locations around France."C.B. Striker" out of the UK and "Brokenwood Mysteries" set in NZ have been constants, but now Fridays are reserved for the darling Monty Don and "Gardener's World" xoxo

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    1. Ah, another Gardener's World fan! Preparing something for this year's Garden Photo Event, are you?

      I note your TV watching is rather multinational, too - As physical travel is still ill-advised, it's good to get "out and about" via telly!

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Tickle my fancy, why don't you?