Thursday, November 26, 2015

Trek Thursday (Parenthetical): The Doomsday Machine

This is the last of my skipped episodes. Of course, if you've been playing along at home, by the end of this post you'll know what my favorite Star Trek: TOS episode is just by process of elimination, but whatever! It's still exciting!

Where it should have been: #8, making it one of the best TOS episodes of all time.

In case you forgot: While answering a distress signal from the USS Constellation, the Enterprise encounters a planet-eating "doomsday machine." While Kirk is stuck on the broken-down Constellation, Decker takes over the Enterprise and goes full Ahab. Kirk manages to destroy the killer tube sock and returns to the Enterprise.

The good: "The Doomsday Machine" is a great sci-fi premise, and the story that plays out is well-paced and engaging. We've had Federation blowhards intent on usurping Kirk's command before (and we will again), but this episode is the only one where said blowhard has an entirely believable (if insane and misguided) motivation in doing so. After all, Decker had to listen to the cries of his dying crew; by trying to do the honorable thing and go down with his ship, he sent more than 400 people to their deaths. You get why he wants to destroy this thing.

The bad: Decker's obsession is great, but the way that Spock insists on tolerating it is incredibly frustrating. Refusing to submit to a psychological evaluation would be more than enough grounds to declare him unfit for duty. It comes across as an easy way to ramp up the tension.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What I Read: The Radiance of the King

So lately I've stopped adhering strictly to the TIME Top 100 Novels list and instead have been browsing the "world literature" section of my library, picking up books, and then replacing things on the list.

That's how I found The Radiance of the King (Le Regard du Roi). Any book with an introduction by Toni Morrison has to be a good choice, after all.

The story revolves around Clarence, a kind of useless European who has found himself stranded in a fictional, unnamed African country. In debt, he decides that his whiteness is sufficient grounds for him to find employment in the king's court. An old beggar agrees to help Clarence out, but can't deliver much. After a failed attempt to see the king, the beggar convinces Clarence to come south with him, because the king is certainly going to come south at some point, and they will have another chance to plead for an audience.

The rest of the book concerns Clarence's travels southward, and then his life in the village.

And at some point it totally lost me.

My background is in reading literature (generally) fairly closely, so I legitimately enjoy a lot of books that people often find difficult or complicated (#humblebrag) but sometimes things are beyond my ken. That's what happened with The Radiance of the King. It started in familiar territory and I was really excited to see how Laye would subvert my favorite though incredibly problematic "African adventure" genre. When I closed the book, I wasn't sure if anything had been subverted, or if I just have crude tastes that require crude caricatures to make a point.

In other words, I thought it was going to be much more obvious than it was. Still, I'm glad I read it. The question remains of who should be booted off the list to make room for this book? I'm getting down to the wire on the TIME Top 100 Novels list. In the end I decided to put away Call It Sleep, as the only versions available are Swedish translations and I don't know if I'm really ready for that kind of challenge.

If you want something weird and challenging, then by all means go for The Radiance of the King. If you want to branch out into Guinean literature by way of Laye, it might be easier to go for his other works, which all sound more down-to-earth and autobiographical than surreal extended metaphor. The most prominent one seems to be L'enfant Noir (The Dark Child or The African Child, depending on your translation). Once I finish the rest of this list (only 14 more to go!), I'm sure I'll check that one out.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Women's Classic Literature Event

Recently I've tried to make Mondays about #SciArt and updating (and sharing!) the goodies in my Etsy shop. However, I've run out of backlog to list over on Etsy and to feature here, so this Monday is instead announcing my participation in The Classics Club's Women's Classic Literature Event. I won't be officially starting until January, but I'm letting you all know I'm doing it now so you have time to check it out and decide if you want to join, too!

I've already been trying to diversify the old/dead white guy list that is TIME's "Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century," but 2016 will focus on women (and hopefully WOC) specifically, both in an attempt to diversify that list but also just to find stuff. I've seen a lot of great reviews of comics and graphic novels written by women that I've already put on my TBR pile: Nimona, Lumberjanes, Rat Queens, and This One Summer.

Am I missing anything else?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Five Fandom Friday: Seasonal Foods

I'm not feeling like the greatest, all told, but better than last week and is there anything more cheerful than talking about your favorite foods? I don't think so!

4. Hot tea!

Okay, so it's neither seasonal nor a food (talk amongst yourselves!) but we are well into tea season now, when hot drinks are no longer a question of "enjoyable" but "necessary."

3. Cider doughnuts

Courtesy Megan Chromik

2. Halloween candy (read as: candy corn)

Only the best Halloween candy ever!



And a bonus kind of, because it's not something I particularly like (I don't like carbonated things) but it is something unique to Sweden and therefore of possible interest to everyone else. If you've been following this blog for a while (or are Swedish/have been in Sweden in the fall/winter), then you can probably guess the bonus:

0. Julmust!

So yeah, this is a thing here, and it seems to be the rare "thing" that doesn't have an analogue in any of the other Nordic or Scandinavian countries (except also in the Swedish bits of Finland). Supposedly it turns up in foreign IKEAs during the holiday season? 

It tastes like a really Swede sweet root beer, more or less. It's only available seasonally; I think this year I saw the first bottles go on sale in October? You know the darkness is coming when the julmust bottles start cropping up. So even though I don't really drink it, I do like seeing the bottles come out, especially Apotekarnes goofy old-fashioned Christmas elf art. It's cheerful and colorful, just when days are getting unbearably short.

There is a spring version too (pÄskmust) but I don't think that's half as popular.

There! I feel better already. What are your favorite seasonal foods?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Trek Thursday (Parenthetical): Operation: Annihilate!

Where it should have been: #19, so a solid episode all around.

In case you forgot: The Enterprise is investigating some mass madness weirdness going on in a solar system. The planet Deneva, where Kirk has family, is next. Turns out the planet has succumbed to the madness as well—it's brought on by little puddles of fake vomit that latch on to people's backs. Fortunately, it turns out that UV light can kill it. (Somehow this planet doesn't ever get UV light? Atmospheric anomaly? I don't know.)

The good: Even if the monsters do look like goofy puddles of fake vomit, the threat they represent is a pretty frightening one. "Operation: Annihilate!" is a nice variation on the typical body snatchers theme, in that the entities doing the snatching are just thoughtless members of a giant collective enemy.

The bad: Spock going blind but then not really is a bit of unnecessary tacked-on drama. The creatures' aversion to UV light is also a cop-out solution on par with the aliens and water in War of the Worlds: it's nice that the day is saved, but it feels kind of unsatisfying.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Read Play Blog: November

Read Play Blog is a meme about video games and books, posted every 16th of the month. Bloggers are encouraged to answer a discussion question, and recommend a video game that is similar to a book they liked. Hosted by Happy Indulgence Books & Read Me Away.

This week's questions: when do you game and when do you read?

I game fairly infrequently, all told. I know that when I pick up a controller or fire up Steam, I'm basically on my way into a black hole of time. Maybe we need to hang a wall clock above the TV so that we can keep track of time better?

Because of that I usually game around once or twice a week (depending on what I've got going on), at the end of the day when I've finished all (or enough) of my work.

Reading, on the other hand, is an all-times food! That said, I probably do more reading on the subway and bus than anywhere else. My tutoring and my writing critique group take me on some lengthy commutes.

Currently playing/Recommendation

It's a month later and I'm still mostly playing Hexcells and Fallout 3. (JV and I are patient gamers, so Fallout 4 won't be on our shopping list for a while.) I finally wrapped up the last of the Fallout 3 DLC a couple weeks ago (just a few side quests left), so maybe I'll get started on Fallout 3: New Vegas?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Five Fandom Friday: Postponed

Sorry, but Paris has me not really feeling it this week. Tomorrow, maybe.

Instead, I invite you to rekindle your lost faith in humanity by browsing the #LookForTheHelpers, #OpenDoor, and #PorteOuverte hashtags. Me? I just watched a video of a corgi going down stairs. Now I'm going to brush my teeth, hug my boyfriend, and hope the world is a little cheerier when I wake up. Then I can talk about food.