Sunday Lowdown #9

Happy Sunday, Friends! I hope it’s sunny where you are; I know I need it. There’s a section of the theatre in which I worked called “the furniture room” that I have since dubbed “the reading room.” These large frosted windows cover one wall and let in buttery sunlight perfect for reading before work.

This Week at the Theatre Job

We closed Caroline or Change on Sunday. You know, “strike the set, sign the check”? LOL, there are no checks in community theatre, but we did strike the set! Monday at 3:00PM, the Popovich Performing Pet Theatre arrived to set up for a one-night show! They aren’t connected to the theatre; they rented the space. It turns out that only 1-2 people spoke English — everyone else spoke Russian — so I ran around and did a lot of pointing. I got tickets to the show and saw fun tricks, like a cat pushing a little shopping cart with a dog in it, rats boarding a tiny train, and Popovich himself doing amazing acrobatic feats on our stage!

We’re gearing up to open a straight play called Grand Concourse next Friday in our black box theatre. The set is a functioning kitchen (sort of): they can cook and wash their hands. Below is the set (not quite done yet). The poor lighting designer is having physical issues, so I had to go in on Saturday and use Facebook Messenger video chat to have him walk me through hanging and adjusting lights, and programming the board! Ack! I was out of my element, but theatre is very Tim Gunn: “make it work!”

I also saw a stage reading at a different theatre, the Acting Ensemble. They’re very low budget and small, but they have a wonderful crew of actors who have a lot of fun. Below is an image from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy III: Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Marvin, the Paranoid Android on the left (he’s lost a leg and has a fake one). Zem, a mattress that lives in a swamp on the right. I loved the paper plate googly eyes; totally brilliant and hilarious.

This Week in TV & Film

The newest season of The Santa Clarita Diet came out! Yay! If you’ve tried this show and didn’t like it, let me explain. Before Sheila is turned into a zombie, she and her husband, Joel, are very boring people. That is reflected in terrible acting by Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant that almost made me quit watching Season 1. But as things progressed and got stranger and more deadly, the show turns into a hilarity bomb you can’t resist. If you’re squeamish about blood, don’t watch.

This Week in Reading: Finished Books

Just last night I finished reading Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith to my husband. Hooray! While he initially didn’t like the novel, he got into it. We haven’t discussed it yet, as he takes a while to mull things over. I’ll post a review next week.

Though Jackie and I finished Magic’s Promise and Magic’s Price by Mercedes Lackey a couple of weeks ago, we posted our conversation about the books this past week. Thanks to everyone following along with #ReadingValdemar. We’ve encountered fans new and old, and I love it!

I’ve owned it for too long, so I finally read and loved Destroying Angel by Missy Wilkinson. Many of you lamented that her book isn’t available anymore due to a terrible press abusing its writers, but when I wrote to Wilkinson to let her know of my review and suggest she seek a new publisher, she was grateful and glad — and this is one of those moments I love about being a blogger.

You can’t help but pick up a book called There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories, so when you get inside and the stories are incomplete, it’s hard not to feel let down. Of course, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya has other books with similarly fascinating titles, so I’ll try her again (especially since I already own There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales). Callum and I agree that maybe Petrushevskaya’s novellas will be better, such as There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In: Three Novellas About Family.

This Week in Reading: Books in Progress

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh: I’m working to finish the entire Mark Renton series, which has five books, in 2019. Trainspotting is gruesome, leaves a funky taste in your mouth, almost all written in Scottish dialect, and feels more like short stories connected to make a novel. So far, I’m liking it more than Skagboys. I read Trainspotting in 2004, but remember little.

By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey: If you’re following along with #ReadingValdemar, here is a head’s up. Jackie and I planned our next book to be Winds of Fate, but the first page is a summary of what’s been happening since we left Talia. Prince Ancar attacking was in Talia’s books, so that made sense, but apparently he attacked again two years later and was defeated by a mercenary named Kerowyn. Okay, that’s enough summary, but when I started the first chapter of Winds of Fate, there’s Kerowyn, a main character.

I quickly text Jackie, and we decided to add in By the Sword, the novel in which we meet and learn about Kerowyn. By the Sword is connected to the Oath books (there are three, but not really a trilogy), but you don’t have to read them first. So now, it’s sixteen Valdemar books in 2019. What could go wrong?! By the Sword review now due on April 15th and Winds of Fate review on April 29th.

Vow of Celibacy by Erin Judge: a novel for my goal to read more books with positive representations of fat women. I wasn’t keen on the title or the premise, but this book has surprised me with it’s clever writing, sex positivity, and strong characterization. Loving it so far!

Next Week in Reading:

As soon as I finished Vow of Celibacy, which should be soon, I’ll start Roxane Gay’s novel, An Untamed State. I confess I don’t care much for Gay’s essays or the opinions she shares on Twitter, but I enjoyed her fiction collection Ayiti. I’ll also start Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell. This is a re-read for me, and it’s the book I will start reading next to my husband at night.

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31 comments

  1. What a busy time! I have read another positive book about a fat character, however it’s a YA one … will get my review up some time this week and might be worth noting.

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  2. I am also not a big fan of Roxane Gay’s nonfiction (and also a lot of lazy stuff about how much she dislikes men gets retweeted into my Twitter feed), but I’ve heard so many great things about An Untamed State that I am still tempted to read it – I will be interested to hear what you think!

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    • There was some Tweet just the other day asking something like what kind of woman is still willing to date a man in 2019. Like, WTF? That just seems woefully ignorant to me. And you’re right: lazy.

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  3. I’ve just downloaded an audiobook of Highsmith that includes The Price of Salt and Strangers on a Train, so I might have to check out both now – looking forward to your thoughts! I’ve heard Gay’s debut novel isn’t as well written as her other fiction, but I hope you enjoy it. I believe the longest story in Ayiti shares the same premise with it. Have you ever read her memoir Hunger?

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    • I did read Hunger and enjoyed it. I liked how honest it was without being snarky, which is a lot of what I see with her in her essays online and in her Twitter feed. I remember hearing that Ayiti had a story that was the kernel of An Untamed State, so I hope it’s good. I bought this book when it came out, and it’s been sitting on my Kindle ever since. After that, I’m done giving her chances.

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  4. I love the idea of a reading room at work! Do you take advantage of it much? I’m catching up on reading everything this week so I’ll check out your review now of There Once Was a Girl while I eat matcha cupcakes. There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, sounds hilarious so I’ll have to look it up to see what is about.

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    • It was super weird and hard, but I DO feel accomplished! I just didn’t want to quit, and I didn’t want to give this lighting designer a reason to quit. He’s currently disabled, and I think it’s my job to accommodate.

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  5. Maybe Ludmilla has used up all her creativity on the titles of her books? 😉

    I love that mattress – what fun! I really should go to more plays. We do go to the high school’s musical every year which is always so well done. This year they put on “Newsies”.

    I’m curious to know why you chose Once Upon a River to read with your husband? Or did he choose it?

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    • I chose it and he agreed, mainly because I’ve talked about it enough times. This 16-year-old girl is a bit of an Annie Oakley-type who leaves home to find her mom. To get to her mom, she travels down this river she loves, which is in Michigan (where I grew up), and I can relate. She has all these things that stop her journey or challenge her, but overall, it’s a beautifully written book with a compelling female lead.

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  6. Is there any chance you took a picture of the cat pushing that shopping cart? Asking for a friend…

    I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts on Roxanne Gay-what about her opinions don’t you agree with? I don’t follow her that closely but I’m still eager to see your review!!!

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    • Ugh, she had a Tweet just the other day asking something like what self-respecting woman agrees to date a man in 2019. Like, WTF? I see stuff from her like that frequently. In her essay collection Bad Feminist, she would wander all over the place with these poorly-organized ideas that started in one place and ended up elsewhere. If I were her ENG 101 prof, I’d have loads to say…

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  7. I’m sorry, Popovich Performing Pet Theatre is a thing? Rats board a tiny train? Now THAT is entertainment lol

    I’m interested in seeing what you think about An Untamed State. I’ve read a few of her memoirs, but never any of her fiction. I don’t even know what genres she writes in…

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    • Roxane Gay first published a short story collection with a small press. That’s how I discovered her. Then, she got into essays and her novel, her memoir and some Blank Panther, too. I reviewed An Untamed State, so it’s ready to read!

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