Sunday, July 31, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/31/16)

Happy birthday to me! Because of my birthday, by the way, I am prepping link posts ahead of time so I can spend more of the weekend on the couch reading books, so if I've missed something important, I will do my best to get to it next week.

If you missed Khizr Khan's amazing speech, you should watch it.

This is a good point: Despite what you’ve heard, Democrats aren’t in disarray. Their party is under attack from the outside.

Awesome: U.S. Navy To Name Ship After San Francisco LGBT Rights Icon Harvey Milk

Our president would like to set the record straight about this almond business.

"If you want Donald Trump to come and hang out in your subreddit, all you have to do is ask, preferably via a short, bulleted memo." (Note: It also helps if you're a Neo-Nazi.)

My cousin in Philly sent me some interesting local convention coverage, like: Mississippi flag won't fly in Philly

And: Sorry, Jersey — Mapping where DNC delegates are staying around Philly

Norway considers giving mountain to Finland as 100th birthday present Today is my birthday, Norway. I am just pointing this out.

In honor of all July birthdays, let's ogle some royal ruby necklaces.

An actual good birthday present for me: A "new" Beatles album??

Friday, July 29, 2016

Book Review: Girl in the Shadows

Moira wants to be a famous magician, like her father, but girls are supposed to be the magicians' assistants. So she . . . runs off and joins the circus. Literally. Girl in the Shadows is the second book in Gwenda Bond's Cirque American series, after Girl on a Wire, and normally I'd be wary of reviewing a later book in a series, but in this case it's not a direct sequel and, really, you should read both.

Because the primary things I like about both books are the same: They're about young women making a place for themselves in families and a community that is both close-knit and (mostly) loving and mired in traditional gender roles that these girls want to break out of. And the main characters become exceptional in their fields because of their talent but more importantly because of their hard work and determination.

I should add a caveat here: I don't particularly like circus stuff, and I actively dislike clowns. (Please don't make a future book be about a clown girl, Gwenda.) But I'm fascinated by stories that are set in specific communities with their own customs and unconventional ways of life, whether they're religious cults, boarding schools, or, here, a traveling circus. Bond makes this world come to life and feel rich and deep, and I loved inhabiting it while I read the book.

I've barely mentioned the actual plot here, and while it's true that I love these books mostly for the main characters and setting, the plot is nothing to scoff at - there's mystery and magic and romance, all intertwined, with a deep cast of multidimensional characters. The specific mystery of this book is solved in a satisfying way, but things are definitely set up for the future books that I very much hope will follow.

(If you'd like to see more frequent book reviews, support the blog on Patreon!)

Morning Coffee (7/29/16)

It's Friday AND the start of my birthday weekend, so it's time for some happy distracting links!

My friend James Moran (you may know him as a writer for Doctor Who and Torchwood) is making a webseries based on Dracula and it looks nifty. Here's a teaser.

Oprah will be in the A Wrinkle in Time movie and I remain cautiously optimistic about this whole endeavor.

Netflix is getting a bunch of stuff from the slow TV movement in August, including knitting and train rides!

The Cambridges are officially headed to Canada. Will they take the kids with them so they can be adorable with Justin Trudeau???

Speaking of: Prince George Has an Extremely Adorable Way of Ordering Cake

Whoa: WW2 silk escape map dress sold in Harrogate

Important investigative journalism: That 'S' Thing Everyone Drew in School, WHAT IS IT?

Ooh: Vatican library digitises 1,600-year-old edition of Virgil

How the Key to the Bastille Ended Up in George Washington’s Possession

When ‘Arrow’ sings ‘Hamilton,’ we all win

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/28/16)

Last night's convention speeches were great - Kaine won me over, Obama and Biden were phenomenal, my personal favorite Chris Murphy did well - but you're going to have to wait for the weekend for links about THEM because I AM SO TIRED YOU GUYS and so these are all things I bookmarked BEFORE last night.

A bit of entertainment news before we get to the politics: Gilmore Girls trailer and premiere date!! I have been less excited about this than... much of the Internet... but that trailer absolutely gave me some feelings.

THIS IS NOT GOOD: Donald Trump Calls on Russia to Find Hillary Clinton’s Missing Emails We are past joking here. This is very serious and way beyond partisan politics.

"Trump just coordinated with Russia in a way that would be illegal if Russia were a super PAC, in the hope that Russia will do something it would be illegal for a super PAC to do."

Aide: Trump 'will not be releasing' taxes

Related: Have we stopped to appreciate how crazy Donald Trump has gotten recently?

Oh hey, my tweet is in this BuzzFeed story: People Are Mad Hillary Was Left Off Some Front Pages After Making History

Bill Clinton explained Hillary’s political style perfectly — but disguised it as a love story

Rebecca Traister's take is also good. "It’s ironic that, in politics and other male-dominated public spheres, one of the roadblocks for women is objectification and sexualization, but when it comes to Hillary Clinton, whose ambition and brains have long rendered her bloodless in the American imagination, hearing her described as an object of desire could feel corrective and bizarrely just. So he did it."

Love this headline: Hillary Clinton’s husband wore a fetching pantsuit to honor her nomination for US president

SO SAD: Sesame Street has laid off Bob, Gordon, and Luis.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/26/16)

Michelle Obama's speech at the DNC last night was really, really great. Here's the transcript.

I am generally not a huge Sarah Silverman fan - her humor is just not to my personal taste - but this was good.

Mallory Ortberg is in Philadelphia, THANK GOODNESS: When Will The Gates Of Atlantis Open And Welcome Us Back Into The Sea: Day One Of The DNC

Donald Trump’s long history of clashes with Native Americans

Wow: The very nonpolitical Michael Jordan is speaking out about recent shootings (and donating lots of money).

Oops. Try not to accidentally cross international borders while playing Pokemon.

The Vaccination Double Standard

Sad news: Marni Nixon has died.

The complete guide to Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump’s favorite autocrat

Now that I think about it, Star Trek: Beyond's Jaylah being based on Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone makes perfect sense.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/25/16)

Me elsewhere: The week's TV news.

I woke to news of another nightclub shooting in Florida and I don't even know what to say at this point.

The "most damaging" DNC emails say the DNC was working against Sanders because . . . of course it was? He was trying to bring them down. Why would they be on his side? I find the whole conversation about this very frustrating - it feels like a lot of people think the DNC is part of the government or something, rather than a private organization that is literally only there to try to get actual Democrats elected.

"Johnson said he understood that the American people would expect him to be a substance-free Commander-in-Chief. 'As President, I will not indulge in anything,' Johnson vowed, as if he were J.F.K. promising not to take directions from the Pope."

Milo Yiannopoulos Does Not Deserve Twitter

Michael Caine has officially changed his name to Michael Caine, because apparently airport security got too annoying.

Here's our first look at the U.S.S. Discovery, from the new show Star Trek: Discovery.

Interesting: When Did the Media Turn Against Taylor Swift? (I am Team Taylor Controlling Her Own Narrative; I don't care to what extent it's "real".)

Celine Dion owns and wears a $900 Titanic sweatshirt, which somehow makes me feel better about the world.

A Brief History of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘West Wing’ Obsession

Okay, let's start Monday with Prince George's birthday pictures.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/24/16)

Brie Larson is our new Captain Marvel. I honestly know nothing about Captain Marvel, but I'm always happy to see a female superhero, and Larson did an amazing job in Room.

How a freelance journalist broke the Melania Trump plagiarism story in 3 tweets

Well, Nicholas Kristof pulls no punches: Is Donald Trump a Racist?

Trump Lawyer Sends ‘Art of the Deal’ Ghostwriter a Cease-and-Desist Letter

Whoa: When ‘Everyone’s Grandma’ Is the Town’s Little League Thief

The new King Arthur movie looks completely insane. Even not counting the inexplicable presence of David Beckham.

Everything is terrible but at least we now live in a world with Star Trek makeup.

Someone in New York please go to the Museum of Ice Cream and report back!

Ooh, these pictures from excavations in 1910s Egypt are great and make me want to read an Amelia Peabody novel.

Wow: The East Village D.J. Who Became the Savior of a Decaying British Estate

Friday, July 22, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/22/16)

It's Friday and BOY do we need some happy distracting links this week.

First, me elsewhere: It's Star Trek week at Insatiable Booksluts so I wrote you an explainer about the new show.

Now in the name of Friday happiness this is going to become a John Cho appreciation blog for a bit. No, seriously, I have three interviews with him bookmarked and I swear they are all worth reading and DELIGHTFUL and he is now my favorite:

You Haven’t Seen Everything John Cho Can Do

John Cho on representation and his concerns with gay Sulu

John Cho, Sulu of ‘Star Trek Beyond,’ Navigates a Beckoning Universe

And... well, let's just look at this for a while.

Okay, moving on to non-Cho-related content. This is a real section on the real NBC Olympics site: Puppies and Rio 2016 Olympians

Also: Royal romances that began at the Olympics

Sometimes TV is on my side: John le Carré’s ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ To Be Developed As Limited Series By Paramount TV & Ink Factory

AND Tara Lipinski is producing a figure skating drama for Hulu.

My friend Jonny got married and the Internet got very excited.

Let's all run away and buy a castle.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/21/16)

Um: Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack

This person is an elected official in my state: Trump Vets Adviser: Clinton “Should Be Put In The Firing Line And Shot For Treason”

How Donald Trump Picked His Running Mate (Of note: Trump's son says the VP will be in charge of both domestic and foreign policy. So.) (Also of note: A lot of this comes down to "pretty much everyone else said no.")

Donald Trump perfectly explains his entire campaign strategy, in one bizarre tweet

Amazing: Third Eye Blind Played an RNC Concert Just So They Could Troll Republicans

Maybe it's time to stop giving William Shatner a platform.

The ‘Brownstone Detective’ Who Digs Up Dirt on New York Homes

I love that someone did a study on whether mobsters who went to college made more money. (Apparently yes!)

Ooh, this is cool: 'A bronze age Pompeii': archaeologists hail discovery of Peterborough site (Wait, I just noticed that that's from January but for some reason it popped up as new in my RSS feeds this week. Whatever. I'm leaving it.)

Mark Rylance (!) would have us know that Harry Styles can act and is also pretty dreamy, basically.

Monday, July 18, 2016

2016 Books: Carry On

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Griffin, 2015
522 p.

Carry On is the story of Simon and Baz, the fictional characters mentioned within Rainbow Rowell's novel Fangirl - except it isn't, because it's Rainbow's own version of their story, not the one discussed (or the fanfic written) in the previous novel. I expected to like this, because I like everything Rainbow writes, but I did NOT expect to be so completely into it that I had to finish most of it in one sitting. It's obviously deliberately drawing on and commenting on Harry Potter and other Chosen One stories, but it's also very much its own thing, with its own fantasy world and magic system that I found very compelling. And as usual, Rainbow's dialogue is perfect and makes her characters feel entirely real.

See everything I've read in 2016!

Morning Coffee (7/18/16)

Me elsewhere: The week's TV news.

This is very important and I barely knew about it until I saw this piece: Why thousands of indigenous women have gone missing in Canada

A Remote Pacific Nation, Threatened by Rising Seas

It’s time to put down the Hemingway and accept that the Running of the Bulls is horrifying

Why TV Shows Are Darker Than They’ve Ever Been (They mean it literally.)

I love the crossword, but this makes good points: Why Is the New York Times Crossword So Clueless About Race and Gender?

This profile of Marie Kondo is fascinating.

November Project is so weird.

Heh: Tips for Better Sleep That You’ve Already Heard and Refuse To Try

Fascinating: Inside an Elite Hamptons Sex Party

"Pause for a moment to consider the world in which Marie Osmond is a 'real' star and Kim Kardashian is an upstart phony."

Friday, July 15, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/15/16)

As usual, in honor of Friday we're taking a quick break from current events to look at some links on the lighter side, for anyone who needs a distraction.

Good news! Carla Hayden confirmed as Librarian of Congress, the first woman and the first person of color to hold the position.

Caribou Coffee made it SNOW in Minneapolis and I want to go there.

Nifty: “Godspot”: German churches now offer free and secure wifi hotspots for all

Heh: The Queen shocks locals by visiting Scotland pub for dinner Now I would like a jacket potato and a cider, please.

It's Friday. Let's look at shiny things. I love the Swedish processional jewels.

Meanwhile: The nations of Denmark and Sweden had a Twitter fight involving moose and sperm banks

These photographs are beautiful: Art of stone: spiritual sculptures around the world

I always want to read about a nice sea serpent hoax.

Relevant to what I was mentioning in my Childhood's End post yesterday: Rereading A Wrinkle in Time: what’s up with that giant evil brain?


Thursday, July 14, 2016

2016 Books: Childhood's End

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke
Harcourt, Brace & World, 1953
220 p.

Spaceships appear and take over the earth, seemingly benevolently, but what's the real deal? I haven't read much Clarke, but a friend told me to read this one and I'm so glad he did. It's very Cold War but also feels very current (aside from the kind of outdated attitudes you'd expect regarding gender, race, etc., which weren't as bad as they are in many other books of the time). It was thought-provoking and funny and had a great central mystery, and I just loved it.

It's definitely got some things in common with A Wrinkle in Time - this idea of the perils of one giant brain taking over a society "for its own good" seems like a common science fiction reaction to the Soviet Union, which of course makes perfect sense.

See everything I've read in 2016!

Morning Coffee (7/14/16)

This is important: An Open Letter on Identity Politics, to and from the Left

Oh: CNN’s Corey Lewandowski Is Still Being Paid By Donald Trump

I enjoy any piece that starts "How Max Weber explains..." Here, the election.

Sigh: This Is Not a Joke: Deflategate Could Actually Go to the Supreme Court

This would be a fun headline to show someone in the 90s: Senator Al Franken demands Pokémon Go release privacy information

Theranos’ Downfall Isn’t Just Elizabeth Holmes’ Fault

ABC is relaunching their streaming service with some originals but also a whole bunch of older shows, like Sports Night and Brothers and Sisters.

"The Boxcar Children" and the Spirit of Capitalism

I love this headline: The Scottish Scoundrel Who Changed How We See Data (Seriously, this piece has EVERYTHING.)

How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016 Books: The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
DAW, 2007
722 p.

This is slightly odd for a fantasy epic, a bit slower paced and focused on world-building, but that's probably why I found it so enthralling - I could have easily read half a dozen books set in the various parts of this world, from the traveling performers' community to the university town. I'm fine with letting the plot here take a back seat to the writing and setting and characters, but at the same time I get why some readers have disliked it for the very reasons I liked it. I'll definitely be continuing with the series, and while that's partially because I want to know what happens, it's more because I want to just keep living in that world.

See everything I've read in 2016!

Morning Coffee (7/13/16)

Sanders finally endorsed Clinton yesterday! Yay! I'm glad to see that he is not handing the election to Trump out of spite. Some of his supporters are unhappy because they did not realize how campaigns or fundraising or elections or anything in the world works, I guess.

I thought I had found proof that Donald Trump gives to charity. But it wasn’t that Donald Trump.

Important: Larry the cat will not be evicted from No 10, Cabinet Office confirms

Elsewhere in important European animal news: Tired of waiting on Google Maps, Faroe Islanders initiate ‘Sheep View’

PewDiePie and other YouTubers took money from Warner Bros. for positive game reviews It's about ethics in - oh, never mind.

The premiere of The Night Of was quite good, and I think I mostly agree with Todd van der Werff about whether Naz is too dumb to be believed.

This story about the investigative journalist whose publishers insisted on publishing her book as a memoir is infuriating, but I DID see on Twitter yesterday that reprints will be packaged differently, so that's... something, though I'm not sure it helps her as far as the awards she was shut out of, etc.

Skeletons of Pompeii Victims Found in Workshop

There's a White Collar episode in here somewhere: The Daredevil of the Auction World

Ooh: Nepal Investigating Indian Couple’s Claim of Climbing Everest

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

2016 Books: Room

Room by Emma Donoghue
Little, Brown, 2010
321 p.

I read this one right after seeing the movie - which is also good, and now available on Amazon Prime - and I was almost surprised by how enjoyable it was, if that makes sense. Obviously the subject matter is serious and sometimes tragic - a woman is held captive, has her kidnapper's child, and raises him in captivity until they escape - but I've heard from people who couldn't read or watch this because it was so painful, and I didn't have that experience. (And it's worth noting that there is a fair amount of hope in this story, which is not always obvious from the marketing.)

I was a bit dubious about the writing style at first, but it wound up working well here, and the story is, obviously, very compelling. The book worked better for me than the movie because it allowed for some more detailed explanations of what exactly was going on at various points, and while I understand why they made some changes to simplify things in the movie, several elements that were only in the book made the story more powerful.

Incidentally, if you're interested in this kind of story, you should also try the show Thirteen, currently airing on BBC America.

See everything I've read in 2016!

Morning Coffee (7/12/16)

The Washington Post's editorial board is pulling no punches: "But to equate the two candidates as indistinguishably unqualified products of a rigged or failed system only feeds public cynicism while blurring distinctions that should not be blurred. Ms. Clinton is a politician, long in the arena, whom you may or may not support. Mr. Trump is a danger to the republic."

Ezra Klein's piece on Understanding Hillary was very well done and gets at a lot of why I think she would be good at the job of being president.

Interesting: How Bernie Sanders lost black voters

I'm not completely convinced that David Cameron was singing the West Wing theme, but I desperately want it to be true. (And this incident was bizarre enough either way.)

You should read Roxane Gay on Alton Sterling.

Some very interesting stuff about celebrity and gender and work here: The Multitasking Celebrity Takes Center Stage

Heeee: Are Bridge Players Subconsciously Changing Their Game Strategy in Response to Trump? I love joke studies.

Little House and the Art of Hiding Your Feelings

Gail Collins takes a break from the election to take down the cruise industry.

Ha: Social Media Intern Wanted at the Night's Watch

Monday, July 11, 2016

2016 Books: Brooklyn

(Note: My 2016 Books page has been updated, and I'll be filling in with quick posts on the titles that didn't get full reviews in the next few weeks. Enjoy!)

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Scribner, 2009
262 p.

Brooklyn, about a young woman who moves from Ireland to New York in the early 1950s and is torn between people and cultures and loves, is lovely and haunting. I read it around the same time as I saw the movie, and I loved both in different ways. But in both cases, I thought the best part was the vivid worldbuilding in both 1950s Ireland and Brooklyn itself. I'm not an expert so can't speak to the accuracy, but the attention to detail made it feel very real, and in general, I love when every choice in a book or movie seems deliberate.

This was the first Toibin I've read (other than some short pieces in the New Yorker), and I took a little while to warm up to the writing style here, but wound up mostly loving the book by the end. It's very interesting how the movie stuck so closely with the plot but had an almost completely different tone; the book is much more ambiguous and unsettling - less of a romance, less traditionally satisfying. But that all made it more interesting for me.

See everything I've read in 2016!

Morning Coffee (7/11/16)

Me elsewhere: The week's TV news.

Good news! The Wine Show starring Matthew Rhys and Matthew Goode is coming to Hulu on August 13th.

Why is ISIS turning to global terrorism? Because it’s losing.

How IBT’s reporting is driving a controversy over a major healthcare merger in Connecticut

What You Learn from Reading 12 of Donald Trump's Books

This puts things in a rather different light: Rape lawsuits against Donald Trump linked to former TV producer

I don't know much about Tom Perez, so this profile was helpful.

A Ukrainian Kleptocrat Wants His Money and U.S. Asylum

“True Crime Addict” and the Serious Problem of Internet Sleuths

Who Is a Jew? Maybe Not Woman Converted by Esteemed New York Rabbi

Fascinating: How Hawaiian Came Back From the Dead

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/8/16)

(Woke up to terrible news again; as usual on Fridays, we're going to ignore current events and go for fun distracting links, if anyone needs that. Back to normal tomorrow.)

Me elsewhere: The latest episode of The Fourth Wall is out - Holly and I talk about fanfic some more.

AGREED: AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire is The West Wing with computers. Catch up now.

!!! A British TV Network Ran Knitted Versions of Well-Known Spots for an Entire Ad Break

How a teen girl’s mad Overwatch skills struck a major blow to sexism in gaming

Let's ogle the Ralph & Russo fall line. I would like to watch a British mystery series set at a glamorous hotel where everyone wears these clothes.

Best headline ever? British singers surrounded by cheese

When I actually travel I generally want to stay in hotels, but this feature on Scandinavian holiday cottages and cabins is gorgeous and relaxing.

Heh: Poll: Americans only hate spoilers if they’re not the ones doing the spoiling

20 Fun Fiction Books to Read at the Beach, As Chosen by Authors

Ooh: Is This the Legendary Throne of Agamemnon?

Can You Handle our Handel? (I can't resist that pun.)

If Barack Obama Were Your Dad

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/7/16)

I try to keep this from just becoming a list of top headlines - I figure you're getting your actual news elsewhere - but yet another black man was killed by police last night, this time after being stopped for a tail light and reaching for his license and registration.

Check out today's Google doodle for geneticist Nettie Stevens.

I read the UK’s huge Iraq War report. It’s even more damning than you think.

Wow: Former Fox News Host Accuses Roger Ailes of Crude, Relentless Sexual Harassment

Heh: Sanders booed by House Democrats

"It’s obvious now that the email controversy was the perfect Hillary Clinton scandal: an event of modest consequence that reinforces every belief about her, from burning conservative hostility to deep-seated liberal anxiety."

Theresa May, the Steely, Steady Woman Who Might Lead Britain (I disagree with her politics, of course, but I tend to admire steely, steady women.)

The crazy thing is not just that they're making a movie about an ice cream truck driver war, but that it's a totally different ice cream truck driver war than I'd first assumed.

Inside the World of Large-Scale Food Heists

Ooh: Roman coins unearthed in Devon prompt historians to redraw map of the empire

Friday, July 1, 2016

Morning Coffee (7/1/16)

HOW IS IT JULY? (I typed "6" in the title there and then glanced down at the date and realized.) There is A LOT GOING ON but as usual we will take a break for happy links today and return to the horrors of the world tomorrow.

Serial fans: Adnan is getting a new trial!!!

This Atlas Obscura piece made me realize I went to school near Ilvermorny! Am I magic??

!!! Crystal Pepsi Is Coming Back to Stores Nationwide AND there's an Oregon Trail-ish game, you guys!!

What a world: Hamilton Co-Stars Cover Arthur Theme

Garth Williams, Illustrator of American Childhood

From Arya to Zayn: The Rise and Fall of 100 Hollywood-Inspired Baby Names

What a delight: Adorable Midcentury Posters Teaching Kids How to Use the Library

I love reading about rich people in the summer.

This write-up is hilarious: Prince Harry Peruses Discounted Frozen Meals on His Latest Grocery Shopping Trip

Browse Nearly 1,000 Photo Postcards of Late-19th-Century Stage Productions of Shakespeare

Today is the last day of The Toast and I am bereft. Luckily for you, I have a few more things from them bookmarked to share over the next week two. Here's Things Lucy Maud Montgomery Lied To Me About