January 2017

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Almost the end of February and I’m finally getting around to posting my monthly round-up for January. What can I say? It’s been a busy year so far, and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up. (I mean, a genuine madman in the Oval Office isn’t helping matters anyway.)

But what are you complaining about? You’re just the imaginary blog reader I made up in my head!

Really, though, I have begun to suspect that nobody else is reading these posts, even the few who occasionally did so in the past. But hey, whatever. They help me keep track of things, which is maybe all that matters.

And it’s not like there’s a lot more to report. I spent the last couple of days of January (and the first couple of February) down on Sanibel Island in Florida — which is where the photo above comes from — but otherwise it was a pretty uneventful month. I mean, for the day to day, my Twitter feed is the better place to go.

Here’s just where I keep track of the stories, books, movies, and music I encountered in the month. So let’s get on with that, shall we, gentle (and likely nonexistent) reader?

The stories

I read a few I really liked. 2017 originals:

  • “A Lumberjack’s Guide to Dryad Spotting” by Charles Payseur(Flash Fiction Online)
  • “Alexandria” by Monica Byrne (F&SF)
  • “Bodies Stacked Like Firewood” by Sam J. Miller (Uncanny)
  • “Women’s Work” by Amelia Aldred (Flash Fiction Online)
  • “Goddess, Worm” by Cassandra Khaw (Uncanny)
  • “The Whole Crew Hates Me” by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed)
  • “Soliloquy in a Cheap Diner Off Route 66” by James Beamon (Apex)
  • “BlueBellow” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Strange Horizons)
  • “The Regression Test” by Wole Talabi (F&SF)
  • “Next Station, Shibuya” by Iori Kusano (Apex)
  • “Still Life With Abyss” by Jim Grimsley (Asimov’s)
  • “Vegetablemen in Peanut Town” by August Marion (Escape Pod)

Reprints:

  • “This Is How I Wish to Be Restored” by Christie Yant (Lightspeed)
  • “Holding the Ghosts” by Gwendolyn Clare (Escape Pod)
  • “The Quiltmaker” by Mike Allen (Apex)
  • “Cold Print” by Ramsey Campbell (Pseudopod)

The books

I finished two books in January, both of which I really liked: Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey and The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson. The former was the latest book in the Expanse series, which I believe I am physically incapable of not reading as soon as each new book is published, and the latter was a novella I read for my (now regular) book club. I don’t have a huge amount to say about either book — you should have joined my book club if you wanted lengthy discussion — but I did enjoy them.

The movies

  • Black Mass:

  • The Birds:

  • Bringing Out the Dead:

  • The Visit:

  • The Sweet Smell of Success:

  • The Brothers Grimm:

  • Solaris:

  • Now You See Me 2:

  • Bridge of Spies:

The music

My monthly mix of stuff I heard and liked:

A brand new year

Welcome, everyone, to the year two-thousand-seventeen. I hope you’re seated comfortably. Let us begin.

I’m hopeful for this new year, because…well, because you sort of have to be, don’t you? The alternative really doesn’t do anybody the least bit of good.

Twenty-sixteen was a difficult year, for a lot of reasons — not least of all because of the US presidential election, following (for so many months) on the heels of the disastrous UK Brexit decision. Sometimes I worry about this sorry little world we live in. But hope, and working to make my little corner of it better, is really all I can do in the new year.

I hope you find ways to improve your little corners, too, and I wish you all the very best in 2017.

And now, some music.

I don’t really do “best albums of the year” or anything like that, but I do put together a mix every month of songs that I like. If you’re one of the imaginary people I’m writing this to now, you may have even seen some of those playlists earlier in the year. Then I try to pull together a combined mix, something like two songs from every month.

So that’s what this is. Some of the songs are from 2017, some are just tunes I heard somewhere along the way. Either way, these are songs I really enjoyed and wanted to share as we stumble forward into the new day. Enjoy!

December 2016

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And there it is, the end of the month, and the end of a year. Just a quick write-up of the month. It was mostly uneventful, a couple of weeks at the office (plus the yearly holiday party), and a couple of weeks on vacation. And there was Christmas, which was very nice. I hope yours was too!

As usual, though, there were some stories, some movies, and some music.

The stories

I managed to not finish any of the books — three at last count — that I’m currently reading. I did, however, read thirty-two short stories. Favorites included:

The movies

I watched ten movies in December. (I had some time off.)

  • A Streetcar Named Desire:

  • Don’t Breathe:

  • Don’t Think Twice:

  • The Jungle Book:

  • For the Love of Spock:

  • And the Band Played On:

  • The Lobster:

  • Eyes Without a Face:

  • The Philadelphia Story:

  • Double Wedding:

  • The Thin Man:

  • The Big Sleep:

  • After the Thin Man:

  • Ben-Hur:

  • The Tomb of Ligeia:

  • Postcards from the Edge:

  • Arsenic and Old Lace:

  • The Revenant:

  • Swiss Army Man:

  • The Masque of the Red Death:

The music

November 2016

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So November. I think it’s safe to say that the first week of it did not play out as expected. The many long weeks since then have pretty felt just like shell-shocked aftermath. It’s anybody’s guess how exactly things will play out over the next four years, but it’s almost guaranteed to be difficult and ugly on a lot of levels.

But Thanksgiving was nice, so there is that.

Anyway, beyond the holidays — which was just me, my sister, our parents, and my sister’s cat — and politics, November was a pretty uneventful month. I read one book and thirty-two short stories, watched sixteen movies, and listened to a little music. It was that kind of month.

The book

I read Company Town by Madeline Ashby for my monthly book group. And I didn’t much like it.

It wasn’t terrible, but I think the group largely agreed with my own assessment: there’s way too much going on in the novel, with too few of its threads connecting or being resolved. And the ending…ooh boy. It’s rare to find a book where you want many, many longer stretches of exposition just so you can better know what’s going on and who everybody is. The book’s pacing is really weird, and it really does feel like working on a mystery without any clues.

It seems to set itself up for a sequel — despite rumors it’s a one-and-done — but I don’t think I’d read more. Maybe another book by Ashby, or even a completely rewritten and expanded version of this book, but no, not a sequel.

The stories

I read thirty-two short stories in November, upping my one-a-day habit all the way up to two-a-day on a couple of occasions. (I took all of Thanksgiving week off from work.) These were my favorites:

  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
  • “Kamanti’s Child” by Jennifer Marie Brissett (Uncanny)
  • “The Place of Bones” by Gardner Dozois (F&SF)
  • “Where I’m From, We Eat Our Parents” by John Wiswell (Daily Science Fiction)
  • “Project Earth Is Leaving Beta” by J.W. Alden (Flash Fiction Online/Nature)
  • “Spirit Tasting List for Ridley House, April 2016” by Rachel Acks (Shimmer)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar (Uncanny/he Starlit Wood)
  • “Migration” by Tananarive Due (Nightmare)
  • “Natural Skin” by Alyssa Wong (Lightspeed)
  • “A Shot of Salt Water” by Lisa L. Hannett (The Dark)
  • “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang (Stories of Your Life and Others)

All but the last two were from 2016. I don’t set out to read current short fiction and nothing but, but it does often turn out that way. After last month, when I read a whole bunch of much older reprints, I was probably due.

The movies

  • All the President’s Men:

  • I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House:

  • The Hitcher:

  • 13th:

  • Arrival:

  • The Neon Demon:

  • Sunset Boulevard:

  • Duel:

  • Sing Street:

  • Martin:

  • Seven Men from Now:

  • Hell or High Water:

  • Chunking Express:

  • Carnival of Souls:

  • My Left Foot:

  • Big Fan:

The music

October 2016

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And then October was behind us.

I spent the better part of a week traveling, campus calling for work in Indianapolis. I visited Purdue (an hour’s drive away in West Lafayette), IUPUI, and the University of Indianapolis, talking with instructors on campus as I do. All I feel confident in saying about Indianapolis is that it’s a place. It seems like a nice enough place to return to and visit for the first time. But I saw practically none of it. I stayed a fifteen-minute drive from the airport and didn’t get a real sense of the city, or even of the schools I visited. It just was a place.

But now it’s November, and all I have to do is write up my notes from that trip, which, if luck is with me, I’ll manage sometime before the end of the year.

Other than that short trip, my October was relatively uneventful. As usual, I read some stories, read some books, watched some movies, and listened to some music.

The stories

I read thirty-three stories in October. A lot of those were horror, perhaps appropriately enough, and several were from Penguin’s American Supernatural Tales collection. I might have more to say about that collection when I actually finish it — I’m very close — but overall it’s kind of meh. Some good stories, some arguably classic, but a pretty mixed bag overall.

Still, I read few others elsewhere that I liked:

The books

In October, I read two books: Slade House by David Mitchell and I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas.

They’re both a little slight, but I much preferred the Mitchell book, which manages to invest you in some pretty unlikable characters…which may be one of the problems I had with Mamatas’ book. Maybe if I recognized the Lovecraftian crowd he’s directly parodying in the book, or was more widely read in Lovecraft himself, I would have enjoyed the book more. It has some nice touches, but I found it overall kind of disappointing.

The movies

I watched eight movies in October:

  • The Legend of Hell House:

  • The Darjeeling Limited:

  • Ghosts of Mars:

  • Shadow of a Doubt:

  • Sleeping With Other People:

  • Futureworld:

  • Out of Africa:

  • Lights Out:

The music

And I listened to some music. So there.