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I didn't realize how much I was counting on him coming home today. When I talked to the vet yesterday everything sounded great--more active, bright-eyed, rehydrating.

Blood work came back with kidney and liver function numbers much improved, but white cell count much higher. So they're going to switch antibiotics and give him potassium in hopes he will start eating. And they're keeping him another day. If I was going to penny pinch, they'd send him home, but I really want him well, especially since starting tomorrow through Sunday I have the pugs 24/7 (Knowne World Cooks Collegium and all that).

Fur momma is not happy.


What sucks:

Taking TAG (see kitten picture above) to the vet as an Urgent Care patient this AM. It became obvious this morning that he wasn't suffering from his usual "it's August and I've shed so much I have a hairball the size of Rhode Island I'm trying to get rid of" and the malaise is more serious. We eliminated the likelihood it is cardiac-related, and now we're onto "fun with nephrology." Trying to steel myself for bad news.

Finding out they changed the format of the class I'm teaching a Learning Community with, so the things we did in the past to align and support each other in the two classes just got thrown out the friggin' window, and classes start on Wednesday. Feel my joy.

Apparently yesterday while unpacking and cat-monitoring I did "something" to my right hand. Feels at the very least like I strained a muscle. Other options are sprained thumb, hyper-extended ligament or tendon, or something similar. Right now doing the whole heat/cold/support/NSAIDS thing in hopes that clears it up pretty quickly.

The "Best Office-mate in the World" is heading to Vietnam on Sept. 10 and will be gone until December. This sucks. A lot.

Not everything sucked:

The veterinary clinic where I take TAG is a cats-clusive vet, that not only treats only cats, but has them resident. I was greeted in the parking lot by a charming gentleman in a distinguished tuxedo.

I have a great boss and semi-boss.

I have time to get the semester started, if I really focus today and tomorrow (see above for possible contraindications of likelihood).

The unpacking yesterday resulted in numerous boxes emptied, and I can now get to a window in the future library, which means I can open it, making for more cross-ventilation. And, most importantly, I found the cookies!!

The-Best-Office-Mate-in-the-World is excited at this amazing opportunity, and I'm really happy for him.


What the heck?

So, I've wanted an iPad for awhile now, mostly for work. I'd tried using my NOOK as a tablet for meetings, conferences, etc., class, you know--the whole academic thing. But the NOOK is primarily a reading device, at which it works beautifully. I really needed an iPad, especially with the lovely way I can hook one of those into the SmartClassrooms. I put it off and off, but, finally, this year I decided I'd break down--because, really, the most sensible time to do it is when you've just bought a flippin' house. (We'll discuss my money management issues some other time, okay kiddies?)

So, yesterday, I decided it was the day, and since I hadn't been able to make it out to DestinyUSA at all during the summer, it was my last chance before the 30 week cluster-flip that is the school year started. So once I finished the "Convocation Walk-through" that was yesterday morning, I decided I'd get one. AND that I'd drive to Syracuse to the Apple Store to do it, rather than just take the 5 minute drive to Best Buy or Walmart here in town.

So I went to DestinyUSA. Got some lunch, then headed to the Apple store (which was cray-cray, because, "Hello!" dumba$$--back to SCHOOL frenzy). Nonetheless, a lovely, older Apple associate named Stan came to help me. He was charming, unhurried, answered my questions (talking me back from more memory than I'd really need, given the use I intended for the iPad), and all was well. In talking I explained I'd be using it in the classroom, etc. When the time came to settle up, I got a LOVELY surprise. Apparently, the only time my educator discount applies to an iPad is...wait for it...during their "Back to School" sale period. So, I got a discount that wouldn't have applied any other time of the year. Then, on top of it, because it was the sale period, I also got a $50 gift card for the Apple Store. So, because I irresponsibly decided to buy my iPad now...I win! And, because every pay period I put $10 into a special account labeled "Electronics" I was able to buy it mostly for cash, not credit.

So, the universe just patted me on the head a bit, for which I am grateful. Especially since my NOOK is being a bit of a butthead at the moment in terms of battery issues.

In other news, there is still nowhere to sit in the apartment, except the stepladder in the kitchen or the bed. Oh, well.


A) That was a weird interface. Is LJ trying to be G+?

B) Grateful for good friends--both those with me in body and those whose good will is the wind beneath my wings.

C) GHOSTS. I has them. They showed up everywhere in the last 2 days as we were packing. Morguhn, Cat, Rannveigr, Mom, Daddy, Elinor....Satin, Shadow, Modi, Frigga, Popcorn, Brindy....and every one was a knife, and a balm.

D) Fall down now, go boom.

Okay--I get it now

While I've always loved the play, I never could quite "buy" A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is largely because the notion of falling asleep, outside, on Midsummer Eve was just ludicrous. It is often in the 40s or 50s here on that night (Faherenheit for those of you who have succumbed to the pedantry of decimal mania), so just "falling asleep" in your clothes outside and waking up without a case of hypothermia just never "range true" to me. However, the next time I watch Puck and Bottom, Helena and Hermia, and the rest, the sleeping lovers will not make me shake my head in disbelief.

Tonight I got home from Eastern Star exhausted, weary--the stress of trying to buy the house in Utica, the commitments to Star and family, teaching two summer classes (which are more concentrated, and longer than each individual class is during the regular year, so twice as tiring), and the stress of packing are all seeming to hit at once. I felt barely able to put one foot in front of the other, but the puppies and kitties need things that can't be put off. Still in my long whites (we had initiation tonight), I walked the dogs--in a white lace top and a full, white lawn skirt. Even had white shoes on. And I was perfectly comfortable out in the yard, even with the leftover damp from last night's storm. Trying to watch the black dog in the darkness between the maples and the locust trees, trying to keep the nearly blind one away from the road, it was still beautiful. The quiet, the still air, the smell of iris and peonies a quiet note floating atop the scent of grass and earth.

And then I saw it out of the corner of my eye. A flash of almost blue white light in a streak across the sky. "Shooting star," I thought to myself. So I started looking at the sky to see if it was a shower of meteors. And then I saw another streak--beside the barn. And then I realized it was fireflies. The brightest, most dynamic fireflies I have ever seen. These were not twinkling lights in the lawn. These were brilliant globes of light moving in the grass, among the trees, all the way to the tops of some of the maples. And at the bases of many of the trees are little villages of mushrooms, brown and smooth.

Tonight, the subjects of Titania and Oberon let me see them preparing for two nights from now, and the Midsummer Revels.

Thank you.


Discontent and the Doctor

Okay, I wasn't right back.
And, in the interests of full disclosure, I didn't rewatch it. I tried. Truly. But I got about as far as when Wilson has his last gasp...oh, wait, not "Wilson"--Handles...and I just couldn't take it any more.

A while back a meme was going around the interweb, that in one incarnation looked a lot like this:

I don't get it.

Except for Torchwood, I can't really think of any important character who actually died in a Moffat world. We get noble and ignoble ends for lots of secondary characters, but not really anyone who matters. And, frankly, even with Torchwood it felt a little hollow, because it all felt so inevitable. Really--was anyone surprised when Tosh or Ianto died? Really??

No. Moffat has all this "street cred" for mercilessly killing off his characters, but I don't think he deserves it. He has a bunch of immortal characters to play with, and that "wibbly-wobbly timey-whimy stuff" that allows for a certain cavalier attitude with lives and consequences, and he then adds in soupcon of "I don't give a damn," and "POOF!" Lots of flash. No substance.

So, "Time of the Doctor." Where the Doctor finally has to deal with real personal mortality. Where he ages ("Worst Makeup in a Series Razzie goes to...."), and stays put for HUNDREDS of years. And then, TA DA, the Time Lords fix it "from beyond." And the Daleks have killed off all the other villains. And The Church gets totally trashed.

Even Clara couldn't save this one. (I like Clara. She reminds me a bit of Donna Noble, a bit of Sarah Jane, and just a bit of Romana I--how could I not?)

So I was asked what I thought of "Time of the Doctor." I think rather a lot of it. Sadly, not much good.


Doctors and their discontents

Recently a friend posted a link to a wonderful article that basically skewers Steven Moffat. There were things I didn't know in the article, things I'd thought but never said aloud, and it also helped me clarify some things that have bothered me. But, well, it isn't what I want to say, but it does help buck up the foundation a bit, so you may want to go and read it. I'll wait.

Okay, so, if you read it, forgive me if I repeat anything, and if you didn't I'll try not to say things that will only make sense if you did.

I've been a fan of Doctor Who since the early 80's. Before that I didn't even know it existed, and when I found it I was a recent college graduate, employed, taking graduate school classes, and, to most intents and purposes, a grown-up. I don't have any of the childhood foundation pieces that some of my friends have (either in Britain or America, though those experiences are demonstrably different in effect), or that I myself have with shows like Star Trek or even Wonder Woman. No, I met the Doctor as an adult American female, and he had big teeth, curly hair, an absurd scarf, and was clearly the craziest, most dangerous clown in the universe. And I adored him. Then I met some of his earlier incarnations, and immediate heir, and they became part of the cast of imaginary friends that I carry with me and that keep me sane. But then, well, the subsequent ones lost their charm. Colin, Sylvester, Paul (ill-served by a horrible script). The Doctor went away, and given the most recent versions, I didn't care. I still had my old friends, and that was enough.

Then he came back, with a "daft old face," and I was seduced again. Russell T. Davies as showrunner managed to honor the old, but brought wonderful new ideas and twists that made me love the mad Galifreyan all over again. Even the startlingly abrupt transition from Christopher "I don't dance" to David in Trainers was handled brilliantly, and Davies was gifted with one of the best doctors ever (or at least in my opinion), which really allowed the Davies years to shine. I was even willing to forgive him Rose Tyler and the horrible way he treated Martha. There was so much wonderful in what he did with the series (Jack!). But then as things do, he moved on and was replaced by Steven Moffat. And David was succeeded by Matt.

It's hard for me to be sure how much I dislike about the Moffat years is because of Moffat and how much is because of Matt Smith (who is a perfectly fine actor, but who never worked for me as The Doctor). I'm inclined, though, given what I've seen of Smith out of character, that he was hired because he matched well with what Moffat wanted to do and then did a superb job doing what was asked of him. So I pretty much come down blaming Moffat. For a lot. Like the train wreck that is Amy Pond (loved her for three episodes, but by the time "The Angels Take Manhattan" came around I was cheering because she'd be GONE). Like River Song. I'm a huge fan of Alex Kingston, and "Silence in the Library" is one of my favorite episodes of the 21st century Doctors, but the almost farcical elements of the Doctor's and River's relationship has me ready to scream. That may in part be because it could have been wonderful, until Moffat made it stupid. The notion that her life is moving backwards to his, so that he is "forgetting" their life together as she moves into having it only be memory has a heartbreaking poetry, that could have been so wonderful. Instead, it's ridiculous.

And then we have the story which brought me to this reflection, "The Day of the Doctor."

First we had "The Name of the Doctor." I was unmoved, but there were some interesting elements. Then there was "The Night of the Doctor." I actually liked it, and it made me angry that Paul McGann's tenure as the Doctor was limited to that awful movie. I liked the darkness, and the moral ambiguity of his choices (I loved Babylon 5, which is also riddled with those kinds of moving in the grey). Then there was "The Day of the Doctor." On one level it was just a shallow "let's bring all the old faces back for the fans" one-off episode, where some of the elements really were very forced and artificial. But the attempts to contextualize that huge "elephant in the room" that is The Time War were at least worth attempting, albeit I don't think they were successful in the attempt. And, well. David.

Which brings us to "The Day of the Doctor." I should probably watch it again. Maybe I missed something. Maybe it had some worthwhile elements. Maybe the script wasn't as bad as I thought, with logical errors, McGuffins, and ridiculous symbolism. Maybe. But I don't think so. But, give me a minute. Let me rewatch it. I'll be right back.


Now that the edges have blurred

Right around Christmas and the turning of the year, dicea asked me to post my review of "The Time of the Doctor" and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I said I would, and would throw in Catching Fire for free.

Even at the time I knew they would be less review than response, because what I want to say about them is filled with tangents, and layers, and caveats, and that's not a review.

So let's start with the Peter Jackson.

I don't like The Hobbit. Never have. I've bought a new copy to read, in hopes that 40 years on my reaction will change (on my list, not done yet). Yes. It has been over 40 years since I read The Hobbit. I am that old. The photo in the pageant book makes that devastatingly clear. But even with those intervening decades I knew that turning The Hobbit into three films was...ludicrous. Two, maybe, because there is a great deal of action in the book, and lots of locales, and to include them all, and have the story be clear...okay, I'll buy in for two. But three? *sigh* My head keeps screaming at me that it's all driven by profit and ego, and it makes me cranky, so I walk into the films cranky. It colors how I see the films, how I respond. Cranky. But the section covered in the second film, the Mirkwood scenes and introduction of Bard of Lake Town, is the only part of the book I recall with pleasure, so I was hopeful.

There are some good things, I think.

-Martin Freeman is well-cast as the younger Bilbo. There is enough talent in his performance, and attention to some Ian Holmish turns, that you can believe he grows into Frodo's uncle. Oh, he isn't the Bilbo from my head (which is good, because I really, really didn't like him at all), but he works in the fictive world that is the Lord of the Rings filmic universe.
-Sir Ian McKellen is, again, not my Gandalf, but in these films he is the wizard "quick to anger," and I missed that from the first films (of course his annoyance at the process in this project probably helped him be bad tempered--he probably wasn't always acting that part).
-My favorite dwarf (Balin) is still my favorite, though I think they've made him too old for me to believe he tried to re-establish the Kingdom of Moria (for those not obsessed with all things Middle Earth, Balin's is the tomb where Gimli mourns in The Fellowship of the Ring).
-The version of Thorin Oakenshield is...seductive in this film (younger and more charismatic than I recall from the book), and may be the best bit in the trilogy of films, because Richard Armitage really seems to me to be portraying all the best and worst of Dwarvenkind. I have to give the screenwriters some credit for that as well. By the end of the second film you can see how the Dwarven kings fell to the 7 rings, but also how that never worked in Sauron's favor. That thematic development requires time, and may be the only thing that doing three films benefits.
-The voice acting and CGI for Smaug were, I thought, some of the best of their type I have seen recently.
-And Thranduil. I was not impressed with the stills I saw of the character, nor the brief glimpse in Unexpected Journey. But in this film Lee Pace brings the darkness of elven longevity, and the arrogance of elves, firmly to the fore, while still preserving the strength and elegance of the race. Thranduil is...frightening, and he should be. He is not "bad" or "evil," but he should be feared, and avoided. If he cannot be avoided, he must be appeased. Those are the only options.
-Bard. Beautifully cast, strongly performed. Showing the strength of men, while also showing how they have fallen. (I may be influenced by the fact that he looks much more like the Strider in my head than Viggo Mortensen ever could.)

There are, however, some horrors in the film, and I don't mean the spiders, goblins, and Necromancer.

-Every. single. thing. Jackson dragged in. I'll stay with this film and not discuss elements that were in the first film but not brought into this one. The biggest offenders are Legolas and Tauriel. Really interesting fan fiction. They don't belong in the movie. They don't help the plot, and the scenes between her and Kili are...an embarrassment. Yes, they allow the Mirkwood section to go on longer, which is necessary since there are THREE films (see note above), but otherwise they are pandering to fangirls and political correctness (there aren't a lot of women in Tolkien's stories--deal with it: the ones that ARE in the stories are strong, matter, and are respected: I'll take that).
-The blatant pandering to videogame action sequences. Rather than action that looks and feels real the shots and events are clearly "and in the game this is where the PoV character will...." Hate it.
-The ridiculousness of Sylvester McCoy's portrayal of Radegast the Brown. I am sure McCoy is doing exactly what he was asked to do. Radegast is NOT comic relief, and I really resent how he is being used in these films.
-The horrible quality of the goblins, orcs, and wargs in these films drags me right out of Middle-Earth and smack into my theatre seat every time I see them. I thought maybe it was that I was so "accustomed to them" that I was being hypercritical. Then I rewatched HD versions of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King on my 32" 720dpi screen, and then watched my HD version of Unexpected Journey. Nope. The LotR orcs and wargs were better. MUCH better. The goblins, orcs, and wargs in The Hobbit films are more animation than anything else, where in the LotR films they were clearly live-action combined with CGI. They were "real," fully dimensional both visually and in motion. Watching the orcs and wargs in The Hobbit films almost makes me long for the Rankin-Bass version.
-The Master of Laketown. I adore Stephen Fry. I follow him on Twitter, I love A Bit of Fry and Laurie, I've watched his dramatic turns (on BBC mysteries or on Bones), and I delight in his character from the Black Adder series. But his Master is...horribly, horribly wrong. The Master is ridiculous, but that should be terrifying because of his incompetence and venality: he is not a buffoon, and yet that is how Fry plays him, because that is how it is apparently written in the screenplay.

When you look at my two lists they look fairly even. For this film, to be fair, they may be. I like this one much more than An Unexpected Journey overall, but the things I hate about it I hate with more passion and disdain than the first film, which I found...occasionally annoying but mostly innocuous. More than the first Hobbit movie, this film reminds me of how good Jackson, Boyens, and Walsh can be at really "getting" Tolkien's world and characters and adapting those to the medium of film. But the bloat in this one is horrific, and the juxtaposition of the moments of sheer "Yes!" with the "You've got to be kidding me." leaves a sour taste in my mouth when all is said and done, and that ultimately ruins the experience.

This turned out much longer than I'd expected, so I think The Doctor and Katniss will have to wait for another day. Night all.


52 in 2014

Let's see if I csn do better than last year (shouldn't be hard).

Reviews later, right now just ennumerating.

1. Never Desire a Duke
2. A Christmas Hope

Twas the day before Christmas...

The house is somewhat decorated, all due to Duchezz's work--I just wasn't "feeling it" this year. Presents are wrapped (well, except for the ones for the stocking, but that won't take long, and I need the stocking first, and those are in one of a dozen boxes, I don't know which one, and she who does know is upstairs in a hydrocodone fog. They'll wait). Cioppino is on the stove, simmering (early stage long simmer).

For the last couple of weeks Duchezz has been asking me if I want to go to Midnight Mass (except, of course, no one actually does one of those anymore (they're all waaaay too early), except a couple of churches in Utica), and keeps giving me options. I'd about decided we would, if the weather was good, go to Grace Episcopal. It's a gorgeous church (with family history--it was my mom's church before she converted to Catholicism when she married Daddy), Rob goes there, and that's where our fight practice is. But she came home from work because the pain in her neck is so bad it brings tears to her eyes. I'm not asking her to go ANYWHERE.

Part of me wonders if my hunger for church is so clear that she picked up on it, or whether she's looking for something herself. Except the only Christian denomination that even remotely attracts her is Lutheran, and she really is most drawn to Judaism. Going to Mass for her is sort of like watching a play. I don't know.

Tomorrow we'll do presents in the morning, then go to Mike and Maryann's for dinner, stopping at Bruce and Sondra's on the way to pick up our OES gifts that she's been holding for us. They head to Florida Thursday, so it's now or never.

I'm in a strange, unsettled place in my mind and heart, but this song has been going through my head all day, so I think I'll share (sorry about the ad):