Sunday Lowdown #1

Thanks to Kim @ Travelling in Books, I’ve been inspired to write my own “Sunday Sum-Up” of sorts. Most Sunday posts I read are a rehash of what bloggers blogged about that week — and I’ve already read their blog posts, so why read the Cliff’s Notes version? Kim describes what she’s been doing, watching on Netflix, how Star Trek is going, what she read, is reading, and will read. I’m going to do something similar!

This Week at the Theatre Job:

Aaron Sorkin’s famous play A Few Good Men hit the stage last weekend and continued this Wednesday through today. On Wednesday we did our first ever free childcare with purchase of tickets event. Something like eight kids played with musical instruments, colored, and played while their parent(s) watched Col. Jessup yell, “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” This was a stage debut for many of the actors, and they pulled it off with respect and the appropriate level of seriousness.

John Applegate (left) and Jude Ash (right) as MPs. Russell Pluta (front) as Kendrick.
Photos by Peter Ringenberg.

This Week in TV & Film:

I get out of work at the theatre at 7:00PM and race home for dinner and Jeopardy! at 7:30. This week some guy named Bif kept winning and will be back on Monday. When you get someone on a roll, you hope for the next Austin Rogers, though no one is as eccentric.

I finally convinced my husband to watch Beasts of No Nation, a film from 2015 about a child soldier taken into a resistance group led by Idris Elba in some unnamed African country. While I explained what was happening based on all the nonfiction about African and Asian dictators that I’ve been reading, my husband was simply more and more traumatized and needed to bleach his brain by watching someone else play a video game on YouTube.

To be fair, he tried to make me watch Swiss Army Man earlier this week. I can sum up my feelings easily:

This Week in Reading: Finished Books

I was juggling several books thanks to a new system of reading I’ve got myself on. The explanation is a different blog post, but I was reading 7 books at the same time for different reasons. Here’s what I finished:

  • Sourdough by Robin Sloan, narrated by Thérèse Plummer. A young woman heads to Silicon Valley to work as an engineer, but when she realizes her favorite underground take-out restaurant is closing, she’s surprised by their parting gift of a weird bread starter that changes her life and sends her into the crossfire between science and food.
  • You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar. In her first-ever solo book (she’s edited anthologies), Tovar scratches the surface of how dieting ties to patriarchy, racism, and fatphobia. Not many people read my review, making me think the title is too bold, or the subject matter not of interest.
  • Arrow’s Fall by Mercedes Lackey. The last book in the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy. I’ll post a review tomorrow. Things get more desperate and action packed, but the ending felt a bit gooey compared to what Lackey published later. This book is part of the #ReadingValdemar read along I’m co-hosting with Jackie @ Death By Tsundoku.

This Week in Reading: Books In Progress

  • Roots by Alex Haley. The story of Kunta Kinte, raised in The Gambia and learning how to be a responsible man in his tribe. I’m reading along with Shell @ Books by the Cup for Black History Month. I comment on her discussion posts, scheduled every 20 chapters. We just completed week one yesterday.
  • Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick. A journalist reports back after speaking to North Korean defectors in South Korea. Currently, all the people she’s interviewed are at the part in their stories where they’ve decided it’s time to leave North Korea, but I have no idea how they will do it.
  • The Liar by David Ives, a play based on the novel by Pierre Corneille. This play will go on stage at my theatre in September, but I have to start the production process in March. It’s a simple twisty love plot the likes of which Shakespeare would write, but the whole thing is rhyming and modern. So far, two scenes in, it’s hilarious and I cannot wait to see it on stage.
  • The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. I’ve been chipping away at this tome since April 26, 2015. I think I need to go faster, but it’s so easy to take a morsel of my favorite poet and chew it for ages.
  • Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall. I’m reading this aloud to my husband. When creatures escape from a military base near the site of a Trekkie convention at a hotel, things get bitey and everyone’s carrying a piece. . .okay, a phaser. So far we’ve met the main character, who’s realized his co-worker was bitten by a mime staying in their hotel.

Next Week in Reading:

I plan to finish Nothing to Envy and write a review. I’ll pick away at the Paul Laurence Dunbar and Night of the Living Trekkies (both will take weeks to finish). I’ll get through 20 more chapters of Roots and chat with Shell. Lastly, I’ll start Magic’s Promise, the first book in Mercedes Lackey’s The Last Herald Mage trilogy for #ReadingValdemar.

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30 comments

  1. Woohoo! I have inspired someone! *lol*

    I feel the same way about Arrow’s Fall- that it built up a good deal of suspense, had some solid action but had a gooey sweet ending. I mostly skimmed that ending because it was so sentimental. I found it a bit annoying that, throughout the trilogy, practically everybody loves Talia on sight. Sure, she’s a likable character, but that near-universal adoration was just unrealistic. I definitely prefer other characters in Valdemar, particularly Alberich, who are more realistic.

    • I like that people know Heralds are good, but there’s still something “shady” (that’s too strong of a word, but I can’t think of another) about Skif that makes people think twice. He’s more likely to fight like a street urchin, he’ll steal things off of Alberich when they’re practicing, he gave Elspeth daggers, etc. He doesn’t do things the “right way,” and I like that about him. I almost wonder if Lackey was worried that if she pissed off readers in the end, even if it is justified, that she would lose readers. She gets braver about killing people.

      • She definitely did get braver about killing characters as her career progressed. I don’t think she was worried about losing readers so much as she wasn’t sure about how to finish a trilogy. After all, it was her first set and there was no guarantee she would get another book contract after that. I wonder, too, if the standards for mass market fantasy just weren’t that high in the 1980s. I have read some pretty atrocious fantasy novels from the 80s in my time…

        • But it was pretty common for the heroes of the story to at least be alive, even in the terrible fantasy novels, right? The funny think about Vanyel’s story is he HAS to die at the end–Lackey already determined that in Talia’s story! It was like she’d written herself into a corner and didn’t even know there would be a corner. I remember feeling pretty upset at the end of Mary Brown’s first book (The Unlikely Ones) in the Pigs Don’t Fly quartet that all the animals, which had human characteristics, all became animals again. The Unlikely Ones came out in 1986.

          • Yeah, I think Lackey and George RR Martin were the first fantasy writers I read who killed off their characters. The other writers got their characters into awful situations and then did some hand waving to get them out of it. I prefer writers who are realistic about the lives and deaths of characters, and what they can and cannot survive.

            • Killing characters also avoids the major issue I have with super hero comics: continuity. A character dies in one issue of a comic book and comes back in another. The Avengers destroy an entire city in one movie and it’s all pieced back together in the next. When everything is at stake with no consequences, nothing is at stake and my heart isn’t in it. That X-Men movie that ended with Wolverine killing Jean? OMG. SO MANY TEARS. “For you, Jean.” *sobbing*

  2. Sunday Lowdown is a great idea for a regular post; it let’s you discuss stuff without having to do a full review. I read the Tovar post, but working long hours (and other lame excuses) couldn’t work out how to respond. It’s hard when you write a difficult post and it falls flat, or seems to, but I think, as in life, sometimes people read/listen and then just go away and think.

    Also, you pondered elsewhere if your Lackey series is costing you readers. I think probably not. We know what your primary focus is. You don’t seem to have lost sight of it, and this series is a bit of fun.

    • Thanks, Bill. You’ve given me a boost of confidence. I forget that some of the books I’m reading may challenge the way people think and leave them with their thoughts. I know that fatphobia and societal stigma toward fat people is so deeply ingrained that it’s hard to even consider otherwise. I used to be in a book club in which we read Dumplin’, which is about a fat teenager. A verbal raucous occurred between readers who claim fat isn’t an indicator of health and this doctor’s wife who was practically traumatized on behalf of the fat fictional character. Lord amighty, I just sat there quietly. Ugh. What a horrible book club meeting. Society actually rewards fatphobia. A person who claims that being fat will kill people feels good about themselves, as if they’ve done a good deed by keeping people in line. Then there are the fatphobic folks who threaten that fat people will never find love because who wants to have sex with someone who is fat? It comes at us from all sides in society. From what I’ve heard from you, it’s just as bad in Australia.

  3. The free childcare thing is so cool! It’d be great if more places did things like that. I know it can be hard for parents with young kids to go out to stuff like the theatre. People can only call in so many babysitting favors from relatives (or don’t have relatives nearby) or can only spend so much on babysitting.

    • I know!! A woman wanted to hold her Mommy & Me classes at the theatre, so we exchanged space rental for child care. So far, it seems like big families have signed up. We do 12 kids maximum. If you have 4 kids, that’s cool. If you have 1 kid, that’s cool. We just take 12 kids total. Thus, these big families are really excited. The shows are on Wednesdays, so we’re also getting more patrons on a typically slow night. This is the great stuff that community theatre can do!

  4. How very cool to offer childcare at the theater!!!

    Sourdough sounds intriguing…and look forward to hearing more about Roots – one of those books you wonder how it’s even possible you’ve never read it – the miniseries was a huge thing when I was a kid – but I haven’t.

    • I haven’t seen the mini series, but I’m going to ask my husband to watch it with me after I finish the book (he’s read it). I know it’s 8 hours long and was LeVar Burton’s first role. To read my thoughts on Roots, but sure to click the link I added and scroll down to the comment section.

      The child care was a huge hit, and I’m glad to hear from my readers who would appreciate something like this–it confirms that what we’re doing is worthwhile.

    • I was worried that I would–this is a new adventure for me–but I’ve found I’m actually remembering them all better. I have to read a bit from each book every day, though. For example, on Friday I read 12 pages from Roots, 35 pages from Arrow’s Fall, and 25 pages from Nothing to Envy.

        • Exactly! So far, it’s working quite well! I was nervous at first. Turns out, I get eager to get back to EACH book and reach my goal of x number of pages per day. I’m so goal-oriented it’s ridiculous. Much of leisure and art has nothing to do with goals, so I get all awkward about practically nothing.

          • Ah well, goals are a healthy and positive thing, regardless which part of you’re life they’re in. I’m weird about keeping schedules, it’s really important to me and I HATE when I have to deviate from them

    • Thanks, Karissa! I hope other civic theatres are able to do something similar. Not only are we helping parents who want to see a play, but we’re helping the woman who runs the Mommy & Me business get a serious discount on space rental. There’s a whole economy that’s run on women doing favors for each other that I feel we’ve lost touch with, and the exchange, for me, brings back that type of trade.

  5. I’ve been considering jumping into the Sunday Sum-Up for a while, but I honestly don’t think my life is interesting enough! XD I love that you’ve kicked things off with stories about the theatre. I expect this will be a ton of fun into the future! What inspired you to pick this up? I assume, with the #1, that you plan on continuing it into the future for some unforeseen time?

    • I just found that Sundays at my house are really lazy, and when I check my email to see who’s posted something for me to read, very few people have. Kim is always in there, and I like reading about watch she’s reading and watching. I didn’t realize there’s a whole new Star Trek until she wrote about following along each week with it. It’s also an easy way for me to gab a bit about the books I’m reading by male authors.

      • Saturday is not a popular day to post anything on the blogs. XD I love that you’ll have a chance to expose the other books you’re reading in your life. I’ve always wondered how much you *actually* read. I imagine it’s dozens of books a month. 😉 Plus plays! Yay plays!

        • It’s not dozens. Usually, about 5, plus maybe 1 play. However, I created a reading spreadsheet that is making me read faster/better. I’m going to write a discussion post about that experience.

  6. I love writing my Sunday posts the best 🙂 did you know you can link them up to everyone else who does one? Then we all visit each other. There’s info at the end of each of my Sunday post if you want to link up too.

    I also have Nothing to Envy, but I haven’t started it yet. A little bit anxious to start it through, cause I think it might be quite sad, as these books tend to be.

    • Ah, I didn’t realize all the Sunday posts could link up. Yes, there are sad moments in the Nothing to Envy book, but I find that Demick stays just distant enough to not abuse the pathos and get information to the reader.

  7. I didn’t know people still watched Jeopardy! Or that it was still on! They’re not re-runs? Can you tell I never watch TV? I love Jeopardy, though. I used to watch it with my grandmother who knew all the answers. She never missed it. I remember thinking that someday I would know all the answers! 🙂
    I do like miscellaneous posts like this – it’s nice to some behind-the-scenes of my favourite bloggers!

    My husband can’t handle intense movies, either. I gave up on it a long time ago!

    • Jeopardy! is still on and still hosted by your fellow Canadian, whom we’ve practically stolen, Alex Trebek. They only do re-runs on Saturday nights, though I’m not sure why. That may be a thing my local station does.

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