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I will admit that The Great British Bake Off kind of frustrates me (along with the Irish one and the Austalian one... etc.) because I want to shake some of these people who don't know how baking soda works. I still find British enjoyable to watch, though, because it's a cooking competition show with hugs!

And watching it has led me to........ The Great British Sewing Bee. Fantastic. So fantastic. It's Project Runway for British home-sewers!!

It makes me dearly miss my sacrificed-to-the-flood sewing machine, but I've been steadily hand-sewing fun stuff. I hand-pieced my first quilt block a few weeks ago (look!), and just the other day I made one of my friends a pretty Kindle pocket with a lining and everything (pretty!).

Another needlecraft I just learned is tatting -- taught myself from YouTube videos! I am sometimes pretty decent (see!), but it's really hard (a mess!). It's easier when I use fingering-weight yarn instead of size 10 cotton thread (prettyyyyy). I did start learning on a shuttle, but I found it nearly impossible, and so swapped for a needle -- suddenly, magically, it was super easy! But the patterns are still difficult.

Can you tell it's my slow season? Please, someone, give me something to edit before I cover my house in doilies and quilts while watching British crafting TV!
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As you know, Bob, my mom is a reading teacher. Actually, she was a reading teacher (specifically for struggling and/or reluctant readers, which is used as something both true on its face and also often as code for ESL students) for a million years. They are phasing out the reading license and switching all reading teachers to being other teachers, so now she teaches "Literacy" -- the modern NYC school equivalent of "English." What this means for my life is that sometimes I get to help grade vocabulary tests (:D :D :D, do not get me started on how much I love grading) and also that I get to borrow all her YA books that she buys for her students.

Yesterday, on an interminable subway ride, I read I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. My mom really enjoyed it in her capacity as a teacher (if you are interested, she said part of why she enjoyed it was that it had clearly been written for readers who were below grade level and unambitious).

Spoilers have to be killed in sequence. )

Now: a thing I liked! A few weeks ago, I holed up with some friends and we watched the entire second season of Justified in one day (well, in 11 hours or so). I do like Justified, but that was a pretty overwhelming amount of people in agony for one day, so we followed it up by watching the first three episodes of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

Wow. Just -- just wow. I loved it so much. It's filmed gorgeously, and since it was shot on location, all the glory of Botswana is on display. Jill Scott was hilarious and incredible, and drew me in from the very first moment. She commands the screen; every single scene she's in, she's compelling. And she does an amazing job of communicating who her character is at all times, not just with every word, but with every gesture, every movement of her body. The supporting cast was also great, and the mysteries are pretty enjoyable. It's a really different style from a lot of what's on tv these days -- and, yeah, I was surprised it came from HBO. No one is naked, no one curses, there are no long sex scenes or on-screen rapes; it's a delightful change.

I also love the way Mma Ramotswe deals with haters. She is really great at handling herself when it comes to people who think a woman shouldn't be working/should get married, as well as people who are judgy and shamey about her body. She navigates strong and/or difficult personalities really well, with a really great attitude that steers clear of both strong language and the kind of "bless your heart" passive-aggressiveness that often doesn't work for fictional characters (it tends to end up -- to my eye -- seeming to make fun of the character employing it more than it puts the other character in their place). I also love that she doesn't make excuses for herself or try to justify herself to other people. It's really awesome to see that on tv.

(I am withholding judgment about the way the only canonically queered character is treated until I see the rest of the episodes, though. One of the other characters keeps having, you know, "learning experiences," and I'm not sure yet whether I'm comfortable with the homophobia and gender policing required for that.)

Oh, and thing I tentatively like! Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, set in 1943. The conceit is that it is the diary of a woman taken prisoner by the Gestapo, and her interrogator has demanded she write down her secrets/confession (or they will kill her by pouring kerosene down her throat and setting it on fire, ouch).

I'm about halfway through, reading it slowly to make it last. Sometimes the conceit gets on my nerves, but the writing is beautiful, and the story is fascinating. A+ reading so far.
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Is anyone else watching this season of Grey's Anatomy? That show just sucks me in. I thought that the last two episodes of season six were just really fantastic television. Maybe not high art, but I rarely care about that so much in the face of great entertainment.

I can't stop loving Cristina Yang, who for the last seven years has been my #1 favorite female character on television. Heck, even Meredith and Derek and their wildly ridiculous relationship have grown on me.

I particularly love the way that Meredith and Cristina are soul mates without being "in love" -- I think the writing really represents female friendships in a super positive (and super realistic) way. And attached to that, I like how, as my friend [ profile] disarm_d put it, Derek and Cristina "have intimacy through osmosis"... in some episode (this season? last season?) Derek tells Owen that no matter what happens, Derek would always take Cristina's side, because Owen is his friend, but "Cristina is my wife's soul mate."

I love it.

I would love to find a book whose author pulls off something similar -- although it's hard to pack six seasons of history into a consistently good series. And I'll be honest -- after season one, watching Grey's Anatomy was mostly an exercise in recreational outrage with a few highlights. Until season six. So I guess what I really want is an author who pulls off what Grey's Anatomy did last season and part of this season (so far), but so much better.

The reason I'm writing all this, though, is because I often say that I really hate miscommunication drama. When I was acquiring, I specifically avoided acquiring books in which the main plot could be resolved if the two protagonists just had a decent conversation over drinks. Even now, if I read a book in which the big plot could be resolved that way, I feel unsatisfied and irritated.

This season on Grey's Anatomy, though... there is a huge miscommunication drama -- between Avery and, basically, everyone else. I'm not sure that I'd recommend watching this season if you haven't watched the others (although probably you could start with season six, which is streaming through Netflix right now, and catch up easily... if you have the patience for soapiness), but the way the writers are dealing with what is basically a miscommunication plot is seriously delighting me. It is actually written like they are people -- people who just can't communicate, who misinterpret and misunderstand, who get frustrated and impatient and act in haste.

I'm trying not to spoil anything, so I'm leaving out the details, but !!!! I find it so exciting and wonderful and amazing when television shows can pull off what they're going for. And the Avery miscommunication plot is just a sublime example of how to do miscommunication/misinterpretation without it seeming forced, stupid, or just plain silly.

(Which, unfortunately, means that for me, subplots like Callie's, Sloan's, and Teddy's have me rolling my eyes. I still can't figure out why Teddy, Owen, and Cristina didn't just have a threesome last season. I honestly thought that the show was going to go there -- I mean, why not? Plenty of people find polyamory to be very fulfilling and satisfying, and I think a true threesome would have solved basically every single Cristina/Teddy/Owen problem from last season... and this season, too. It's a damn shame I'm being subjected to boring, easily fixed/solved bullshit.)

Anyway, I just thought I'd note that for the very first time, I've found a miscommunication story that doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out. So far, anyway. Who knows what's going to happen on Thursday!


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anna genoese

November 2015

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