So March. That sure was some kind of a month, huh?
I turned forty at the end of last month, which I’m not entirely sure is a move I can heartily recommend. My birthday itself passed without particular incident, for good or bad, but this whole “being middle-aged” thing…I just don’t know about it. I also don’t know if anybody at forty is where they expected to be, but I sure as heck am not.
Weirding me out even more, perhaps, is that I spent several days right before my birthday revisiting Penn State, after an absence of almost thirteen years.
It was very strange being back, in some ways exactly as I remembered, and in many others not anything like what I remembered. When you find yourself asking someone, “Is this building new?” and they tell you, “Well, it was built about a decade ago,” you know you’ve been gone for a while. And in some ways, it was the things that hadn’t changed that weren’t strangest of all. (Like, seriously, the downtown movie theater I used to go to is now a Chipotle, but that hole-in-the-wall Chinese takeout place is still there? Well, it is a college town.)
I also don’t know anybody in town anymore. My old boss, I found out recently, passed away this summer, and he had retired a few years before that at any rate. My friends when I left in 2004 were exclusively students, now graduated, which might have factored into my decision to leave. (I think I’m friends with one or two of them on Facebook still, but the same way I’m friends with most people on Facebook, in that we never talk there and I barely use Facebook.)
I did have a very nice dinner my last night with a Twitter acquaintance, but I didn’t see anyone else I knew, and I didn’t have many old haunts to revisit. (The couple I did were either just weird or actively disappointing.)
It was like wandering around in a place built on the bones of what was one time your home. Like revisiting a place that isn’t there anymore. I didn’t expect it to have stayed like a bug trapped in amber, unchanging…except maybe I did?
It was a reasonably good trip, but an odd experience, and I recognized that I’m not nostalgic for there, but for then. And then isn’t there anymore.
Another thing that happened in March is that my parents got a new dog.
His name is Finn, and he’s a mix — we’re reasonably sure of Labrador retriever and Pharaoh hound. He’s also still very much a puppy, which is an adjustment, to say the least. He’s lovable, but also ridiculous a lot of the time and not terribly well trained yet. I’ve lost at least one pair of socks and a T-shirt to him, for instance, and the carpet has been christened too many times by his bladder.)
And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging. The books, stories, movies, and music I read, watched, and listened to last month.
(I don’t know where Miss Saigon on Broadway fits into that, but I also went to see that with my parents. It wasn’t bad.)
I think I read thirty-one short stories in March, but I simply can’t remember one of them, so I’m going to keep the list at thirty. That’s very close to my regular one-every-day habit.
Here are the ones I particularly liked:
- “Daisy” by Eleanor Arnason (F&SF)
- “The Lion” by Mari Ness (Daily Science Fiction)
- “Two Ways of Living” by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld)
- “The Toymaker’s Daughter” by Arundhati Hazra (F&SF)
- “Crow Girl” by Lynette Mejia (Daily Science Fiction)
- “The Ones Who Know Where They Are Going” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s)
- “Drift Right” by Wendy Wagner (Pseudopod)
- “Attending Your Own Funeral: An Etiquette Guide” by Erika L. Satifka (Daily Science Fiction)
- “Crown of Thorns” by Octavia Cade (Clarkesworld)
- “Terra Nullius” by Hanuš Seiner (translated by Julie Nováková) (Strange Horizons)
- “When First He Laid Eyes” by Rachael K. Jones (reprinted at Pseudopod)
I read an unprecedented — well, in recent memory — four books in March. Three of them were rather short, and the fourth I listened to as an audio book on my long drive to and from Pennsylvania. But still, four books in a month isn’t half bad for my recent track record.
They were The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Long Walk by Stephen King (read for my book club), and Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.
That last is the one I listened to on my drive, and it was a good accompaniment to the road. I’m not overly familiar with Norse myths in general, but I enjoyed Gaiman’s amusing retellings.
The King book, meanwhile, is exceptionally bleak, but it’s surprisingly effective for how very much it’s a first novel. (The version he published as Richard Bachmann is a little polished-up, but he started writing the book as an 18-year-old college freshman, which is kind of amazing.) It is not a fun book by any stretch, but it speaks to some very real fears. They’re maybe more a young man’s fears — did I mention I just turned forty? — but I really enjoyed the book club discussion we had about it. (I did not, however, love reading it on my library’s ebook app.)
The other two books were…well, books. Classics, even, though I’m not sure I got a whole lot out of either one.
I watched 7 movies in March:
- Girlfriend’s Day:
Girlfriend's Day is a weird thing that acts kind of a like a comedy, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
— Fred Coppersmith (@unrealfred) March 5, 2017
Sicario was very good. Intense, more than kind of depressing, but very good. Worth it for Benicio Del Toro's performance alone.
— Fred Coppersmith (@unrealfred) March 5, 2017
Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine as world-weary from the start, but man does Logan take that idea and run with it.
— Fred Coppersmith (@unrealfred) March 6, 2017
- The Taking of Pelham One Two Three:
The Taking of Pelham 123 can't decide if it's a comedy or a tense drama. It's usually fine not deciding, mostly thanks to Shaw and Matthau.
— Fred Coppersmith (@unrealfred) March 12, 2017
As a movie, Fences is a little stagey, but goddamn is the acting incredible.
— Fred Coppersmith (@unrealfred) March 19, 2017
I'm not sure its ending works, and it's maybe more disturbing before the creepy body horror FX come out, but Society works as horror satire.
— Fred Coppersmith (@unrealfred) March 26, 2017
This movie is almost worth it for Colin Farrell and Anthony Hopkins acting off each other. I suspect maybe they thought so too.
— Fred Coppersmith (@unrealfred) March 27, 2017