Norabelle414's Trilogy in Two Parts

É uma continuação do tópico Norabelle414's Trilogy in One Part.

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Norabelle414's Trilogy in Two Parts

Editado: Set 9, 2020, 9:56pm

Your Etsy order is ready to ship.

Hello and welcome! I'm Nora. I live in Washington DC. This is my eleventh year of having my own thread in the 75ers group! Aside from books, I also love:

animals - pre-apocalypse I volunteered at Smithsonian's National Zoo
TV - scripted only, mostly science fiction and fantasy, especially anything based on a book
theater - pre-apocalypse I had season tickets to Arena Stage but I would often go to shows elsewhere as well
podcasts - especially about books
travel (pre-apocalypse)

You can find me on Twitter @ norabelle414

Editado: Set 9, 2020, 10:00pm

A selection of books I have finished recently:

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal - 4/5 stars
The Diana Chronicles (Audiobook) by Tina Brown read by Rosalyn Landor - 4/5 stars
Locke & Key, Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill with art by Gabriel Rodriguez - 3.5/5 stars
Scythe by Neal Schusterman - 3/5 stars
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet - 4.5/5 stars

Editado: Set 9, 2020, 10:00pm

For a full list of books I have read this year, click here:

Set 9, 2020, 10:02pm

This past weekend's book club meeting, discussing A History of Rock Creek Park went fine. We all learned a lot about the park, despite having lived here for a long time, but we also agreed that the book should have included maps. The last chapter of the book (which was published in 2015) is about how Rock Creek Park is increasingly relying on volunteers to do the park maintenance and education work that used to (pre-Reagan) be done by employees of the National Park Service. And that it has gotten to the point where even the volunteer supervisor jobs are victims of budget cuts, so the work isn't being done at all. How depressing.

I started reading Oryx and Crake on paper today, though I will probably mostly listen to audio. I'm the first hold in line for the audiobook, so there shouldn't be any trouble listening to the whole thing by November 7.

This time two years ago I was on a boat on the Danube, which Google keeps *reminding me* of. Thanks a lot.

Set 10, 2020, 6:15am

It's like when you buy something on Amazon and then Google Ads start showing you ads for when you no longer need it, except 100 times worse!

Set 10, 2020, 7:08am

Happy new thread!

>5 Ape: Exactly!

Set 10, 2020, 8:27am

Happy new thread, Nora!

Set 10, 2020, 9:24am

Happy new thread!

Set 10, 2020, 10:38am

Happy new thread, Nora.

Sorry the trip memory reminders are bumming you out. Would plotting a trip for post-pandemic make it better? I know Mr. Fine and I have definitely been thinking about what trips we'll want to do next when flying internationally (or even nationally) is a thing again and it makes my feet a little less itchy.

Set 10, 2020, 6:41pm

Happy new thread!

Set 10, 2020, 10:07pm

Happy new thread, Nora!

Set 11, 2020, 5:11pm

Thanks everybody!

At the current rate, I do not believe this will be over for a long time. I don't plan to travel significantly (outside of maybe a trip to Wisconsin to see my mom) for several years. Possibly because travel itself is not safe, or possibly because I will not feel comfortable traveling while so many others are still suffering. What has made me feel a bit better is cancelling things. I've unsubscribed from every airline mailing list, hotel rewards newsletter, and travel discount alert website. I switched my credit card from travel rewards to cash back. I throw the travel section of the newspaper away unread. It makes me feel like now is more normal, like I'm a person who does not travel instead of someone who used to travel and now can't for a very long time.

TV updates:
Lots of shows coming out lately that are...fine.

The ones I gave up on:
Coroner - stopped watching because the medical "mysteries" were bad
Teenage Bounty Hunters - Very rich teen twin girls need extra money (why?) so they convince a lazy bounty hunter (a Black man, of course) to contract out to them, and hunt down rich people in their social circle who have done crimes. Does not seem to have any idea how the criminal justice system works or what a bounty hunter is. Why would rich people use a bail bondsperson?
Ramy, season 2 - Ramy continues to do shitty things and continues to get everything handed to him. Just as with last season, there is one measly episode each about Ramy's sister and his mother which are far more interesting than the entire rest of the season. The show acknowledges that they do everything right and get nothing in return, but is uninterested in exploring that and moves on.
The Great Heist - Based on a real-life Colombian bank heist. Did not interest me.
Maxxx - British import about a washed-up hip-hop star trying to make a comeback
Ladhood - British import in which a comedian looks back on his teen-hood and the kind of shitty (but not that bad really) things that he did and talks about how he's grown from them. Unexpectedly kind of about growing out of toxic masculinity? I might come back to this one.
Transplant - A Syrian refugee doctor is rejected for a job as a doctor but then saves the life of the head of the hospital so he does get a job. He can diagnose people just by looking at them because something something war-zone doctor. But also he doesn't know what professional norms are because something something war-zone doctor.
In My Skin - British import about a teenage girl in Wales with a mentally-ill mother. Very depressing. I might come back to this one too.

Shows I finished:
Love in the Time of Corona - A short 4-part miniseries about a few different families/relationships in the early days of the pandemic. This was written by the writer of The Fosters, and is basically the same thing. Very sappy and cheesy, but the production value is incredible considering the lengths they had to go through to safely film it (very interesting if you're into that kind of thing:
Dead Pixels - a British import about friends (who are bad people) who play a World-of-Warcraft type game online. Funny.
Love, Victor - a sequel-ish to Love, Simon, about a boy who goes to Simon's high school after Simon has graduated and has a much harder time with his sexuality than Simon did. Just a cute good teen show. Recommended!
Wynonna Earp, season 4 part 1 - It was nice to have these few new episodes to watch even though the second half of the season probably won't be finished for months.
Trinkets, season 2 - Still about 3 different teen girls who meet at a Shoplifters Anonymous meeting. Still good. Disappointed it's been cancelled, but season 2 has a great ending.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? - "New" episodes have been airing that were previously not aired due to controversial jokes - sometimes sexual jokes and sometimes political ones. It's been interesting!
Cobra Kai, seasons 1 and 2 - This former YouTube series is now on Netflix and it was mildly interesting, as someone who thought the movie was boring. I might not have watched it in pre-pandemic times, but now why not?
Shameless, season 10 - fine, as always.

I also watched a movie on Netflix called All Together Now, about a teenage girl who is homeless and then a bunch of bad stuff happens. It stars Auli'i Cravalho, Justina Machado, and Judy Reyes, so of course the acting is phenomenal. But the story is TOO SAD.
As background while I work I've been watching Sister, Sister. Really reminds me of being 10.

Set 11, 2020, 5:27pm

What service is WLIIA? I used to love that show...

Set 11, 2020, 6:05pm

>13 katiekrug: Mondays at 8 on The CW! You can watch every episode going back to 1998 on CW Seed:

Set 12, 2020, 7:16pm

Happy new thread, Nora!

Set 12, 2020, 7:18pm

>15 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita!

Set 13, 2020, 7:16am

I should suggest to D-10 that she watch sister-sister. I guess I didn't watch much of it when it was originally out because I was too old. But she's enjoying Full House after watching Fuller House. So she isn't going to be turned off by the out-of-date character.

Set 13, 2020, 1:34pm

>17 The_Hibernator: If she likes Full House then she might like Sister, Sister too. The clothes are *so wild*. The last episode I watched they were wearing wearing baggy red sweatshirts UNDER baggy vests with 4 different colors of plaid, UNDER baggy chambray shirts, with bucket hats that had two different colors of plaid which were different than any of the plaid on the vests. How did we survive the 90s??

Set 15, 2020, 11:56pm

Quick update while I am sleep procrastinating:

I watched two movies:

Cuties (Fr: Mignones) - This has been on my radar for awhile but I bumped it up because of all the controversy. A girl in a poor neighborhood in a French city joins a dance crew with a few of her classmates, all of whom are variously overlooked by their stressed-out parents. Dressing and dancing sexually makes them feel like they are grown up with control over their lives. The movie is fine. The acting is great. Obviously the controversy is unwarranted, but it's also not a very subtle movie and I think in many other parts of the world it would be considered pretty conservative.

Unknown Origins (Sp: Orígenes secretos) - a *fantastic* movie about a handsome detective trying to solve a series of murders based on classic comics, with the assistance of an annoying comic shop owner. Like the best comedies, it's both a parody of superhero movies AND a deeply loving example of the thing it is parodying. It even has a fake Stan Lee cameo. Highly recommended if you have any interest in classic comics and superhero movies!

I promise I am actually reading but the next "short story" in Exhalation is 120 pages long?? so it's taking me awhile to get through it.

Set 16, 2020, 12:54pm

A bit late but happy new thread, Nora.

Set 16, 2020, 1:30pm

>19 norabelle414: I also had Cuties on my radar even before all the controversy, mostly because I gravitate toward francophone stuff, and am planning on watching soon. Unknown Origins sounds fun!

Set 21, 2020, 5:04pm

18. A History of Rock Creek Park: Wilderness & Washington DC by Scott Einberger

As it says in the title, a history of Rock Creek Park, the 2000+ acre urban park in the middle of DC, from the founding of the city to the current day.
Good things: There are lots of great photographs. The author does a great job of keeping everything within the greater context and not letting the reader forget that most of the activities and events held in the park until the mid-60s were for white people only. I particularly liked the details about Reconstruction-era Rock Creek Park, which was the home of a large Black community who had come from the South to be part of the Union army but then had nowhere else to go when the war was over.
Negatives: The book really, REALLY needed maps. I've lived here my whole life but I still needed to check the NPS website every few pages. I had also hoped there would be information about the plants and animals and geology of the park, but there wasn't really. It's a very human-centered history. There's also only three pages discussing Native Americans, based only on a small amount of archeological research and not anything written by actual Native Americans.

It's very local-interest and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone not familiar with the area. If you do live in the area it's a nice reference book.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ♥ (3.5/5)

Set 21, 2020, 5:16pm

>22 norabelle414: My knowledge of Rock Creek Park is solely tied to it being the location where people find bodies in D.C. set criminal procedural shows. :P Glad you enjoyed the book!

Set 21, 2020, 5:28pm

>20 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!

>21 curioussquared: It is really fun, Natalie! I don't watch a lot of movies from Spain and really enjoyed this one.

Set 21, 2020, 5:41pm

>23 MickyFine: There's a whole chapter on that! Rock Creek Park is very large, and has an average of one violent crime per year, making it the safest part of the city and about 9x safer than New York City's Central Park (or 18x safer if accounting for size). The thing that does set Rock Creek Park apart from Central Park and Golden Gate Park is that it is actually a lot of untamed wilderness, with rocky cliffs and thick forest, so there are more hiking accidents than other urban parks.

Set 21, 2020, 5:47pm

>25 norabelle414: That's super interesting!

Set 21, 2020, 5:57pm

5 years in the DC area and I never once stepped foot in the park. #badkatie

Set 21, 2020, 6:24pm

>27 katiekrug: You probably did but you didn't know it! You've probably driven on Rock Creek Parkway, right?

Editado: Set 27, 2020, 4:30pm

Stories from Exhalation by Ted Chiang

The Lifecycle of Software Objects {novella} - Ana used to work at a zoo, but now all the zoos are closed so she gets a job as a trainer of digital pets, cute virtual novelties with a powerful AI that can be shaped into a personality by its users. As the years go by the world moves on from the technology and the company Ana worked for goes under. Ana and her coworkers get various new jobs but the affection for their self-aware software pets remains, and they continue to maintain the increasingly-obsolete technology in their free time. But the AI pets are aware of their situation and of the outside world; can they be satisfied as relics of the past while the world moves on?
I began this story not realizing it was going to be over 100 pages long (the previous story was 4 pages long, for comparison) and it just seemed interminable. But that's kind of part of the story. Some software objects become integrated into a person's life, and the reader needs to feel integrated into this story as well. This story understands modern technology better than probably anything else I've ever read. (Though it misses the mark on zoos a couple times). It was really nice to read a story about semi-sentient AI where the plot wasn't "AI kills us either directly or indirectly", but rather that humans are inherently empathetic and can get very attached to things.

Set 21, 2020, 8:09pm

>28 norabelle414: - I don't think so. By the time I got a car, I was living in Alexandria, and all I did was drive 395 between work and home... Sad!

Set 22, 2020, 7:33pm

>29 norabelle414: I liked the collection as a whole, but that one definitely went on a bit long for me (as you say, though, it was fitting).

Set 27, 2020, 4:31pm

>31 bell7: One of my favorite things about short stories is that they can be exactly as long or short as they need to be, but that one really felt like you could flesh it out just a bit and it would be a regular novel.

Set 27, 2020, 5:01pm

19. The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson

Noelle Stevenson was an award-winning comics artist and writer before she was 22 years old. Such a meteoric rise took a toll on her mental health, which she had been neglecting in an effort to meet such high expectations. This book is a published version of blog posts and personal comics from 2011 to 2019.

If you're thinking Stevenson is a little young to be writing a memoir....that's pretty much true. There's not a lot of hindsight or analysis, just a recap of how each year went. There's a little bit of insight about bipolar disorder and sexuality and the perils of being recognized as successful at a young age, but they are only touched on lightly and never directly mentioned.

If you've read Stevenson's blog or followed her online, you've probably seen all this content already. I'm very excited to see what she has to write in the future, but this one didn't speak to me.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ♥ (3.5/5)

Set 28, 2020, 9:11am

>33 norabelle414: I'd been eyeing that one, but based on that review, I can probably let it slip past me.

Set 28, 2020, 9:12am

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Set 28, 2020, 10:13am

>34 foggidawn: It's worth getting from the library, I think. I read the whole thing in an hour and did enjoy it even though I knew everything in it already. I think my expectations were just too high. Probably not worth purchasing for yourself.

Set 28, 2020, 10:23am

>36 norabelle414: Okay, that's fair. If it jumps off the shelves at me, I won't resist. :-)

Set 28, 2020, 3:26pm

I have started watching the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and am finding it delightful (I'm about halfway through). That is all.

*sneak attack hug*

Set 28, 2020, 4:03pm

>38 MickyFine: Omg! It's so good! Please send me all your thoughts and gifs.

Set 28, 2020, 4:31pm

So far my fave musical number has been "Settle for Me" because I love the Fred and Ginger-ness of it.

However, I just watched the episode that was chock full of Dr. Phil and found it delightful that he was in the show at all.

I love Josh Chan but love Greg more (which is obviously what the show wants). Greg and his Dad get me in the feels. I also love how often they go for boba although it makes me sad that I don't have easy access to a bubble tea place in the 'burb that I've moved to (will this craving get me to go to an Asian market to get boba and then make my own smoothie to put them in? Maybe?).

And I constantly have the theme tune stuck in my head.

Set 28, 2020, 5:19pm

>40 MickyFine: Whoops! my finger slipped and now I'm rewatching season 1. Settle For Me is one of my favorites too, along with "What'll It Be" from episode 6ish (e.g. all the Santino Fontana songs)

Set 28, 2020, 5:27pm

>41 norabelle414: Yay for rewatching! As far as I can tell it's not on any of the streaming networks in Canada so I'm borrowing seasons from the library. Which reminds I should probably put a hold on season two shortly.

Set 29, 2020, 3:56pm

Stories from Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny {short story} - Dissatisfied with the imperfection of the string of nannies he has hired to raise his son, mathematician Reginald Dacey creates an automatic nanny in 1901, loosely based on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. What could go wrong with having an automaton raise a child instead of a fallible human?

Somehow this story is the exact opposite of the one before (including length), but comes to the same conclusion. Neither AI nor robots are going to "go bad" and destroy humanity, but humanity just really loves to get attached to things.

Out 1, 2020, 4:13pm

I've now watched up to episode 14 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I continue to root for Greg whereas Mr. Fine is rooting for Josh. However, we both get great delight out of Daryl's plotline and giggled uproariously when Paula and her husband did the entire theme song as dialogue.

I also started watching Sanditon on my lunchbreaks (joys of WFH). I... don't know how I feel about it yet (I've only watched 2 episodes so far), especially since it's been so long since I read the fragment and can't tell how much Davies has wandered off on his own. We'll see...

We've finished season 2 of Supergirl and are now wrapping up season 3 of Flash starting tonight. Will Iris be murdered by the big bad? I doubt it. :P

Out 1, 2020, 9:50pm

>44 MickyFine: I love Paula!
"Ok GREG, just because you're super hot doesn't mean you get to come in here and say mean statements about my friendship, Mr. Stud!"

I read the fragment of Sanditon right after finishing the show and it's about half of the first episode. It just introduces the characters but never even gets to setting any of the men up as a love interest. I loved the show though!

Did you see that Supergirl is ending after next season? Devastating.

Editado: Out 2, 2020, 11:26am

>45 norabelle414: Paula is great even with all of her enabling.

Thanks for that refresher on Sanditon. I always mix it up with The Watsons. So far Sanditon feels like the darkest timeline Jane Austen. Also, the practically incestuous step-siblings creep me out so much. I do like Charlotte and Miss Lambe though so we'll see how it goes.

I did see that Supergirl is ending but based on the article I read it looks like it will be getting a longer final season than a lot of shows that are filming this year. So at least they'll have lots of space to wrap up storylines.

We watched the episode of Flash last night where Season 3 Barry travels forward a few years to ask his future self how to beat Savotar and future Barry's emo wig was THE WORST. I always love a good time travel episode but that wig... Also, just found out who Savotar is and I'm excited for how the season goes from here until the end.

Out 4, 2020, 2:07am


I fall off the face of the hellmouth that is Earth right now and you pop back up! I'm glad to see you around (glad to be here to see you around also).

Out 4, 2020, 9:01am

>48 leahbird: Hi Leah!! Glad to see your move, etc. is going well.

Out 5, 2020, 5:36pm

>47 norabelle414: Yay for books!

Braiding Sweetgrass has been pretty popular in my library for the past few years - I'll be interested to see how you like it.

Speaking of books, did you know Rachel Bloom has a book coming out next month? I'll probably wait until I'm caught up on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend before I read it but I already love the cover. On a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend note I just put together today that in addition to being Greg, Santino Fontana is the voice of Hans in Frozen. My mind is officially blown.

Finished season 1 last night. Annoyed but not surprised by everyone's poor life choices (except Paula and Daryl) and eagerly awaiting my hold on season 2. Listened to the commentary album for season 1 on Spotify which was also delightful. I am officially in this fandom now.

Out 11, 2020, 1:37pm

If anyone was somewhat interested in The Fire Never Goes Out, this article in Oprah Magazine is everything that I was hoping Noelle Stevenson's memoir would be:

Out 12, 2020, 4:18am

>51 norabelle414: ::sob sob sob:: That hit me in all the places.

Out 12, 2020, 11:05am

>52 leahbird: It's *SO GOOD* and kind of makes me mad that it didn't get published in the book

Out 12, 2020, 11:50pm

Hi Nora! I enjoyed seeing your discussion of the History of Rock Creek Park--I think I have that very book around somewhere--I may have gifted it to my husband at one point, but I don't know if I've ever really looked at it.

I see that travel may be a sore subject, but where were you on the Danube? We also did a boat trip there but last summer--amazing trip, but it seems like another lifetime. What else feels like another lifetime is theater. How optimistic are you that the Arena Stage 2021 season will go off as planned?

Out 13, 2020, 1:03pm

>54 AnneDC: Hi Anne! I definitely think you will find a History of Rock Creek Park interesting.

In 2018 my dad and I took a Danube river cruise from Passau to Budapest. It was really lovely!

I have bought my season tickets for Arena Stage next year, to support them. I'm not sure about it though. I think that they make good decisions and so if they are open I will try to go if I think I can get there safely. But I'm not confident that things are going to be much better at that point.

Out 13, 2020, 6:55pm

Last week the podcast "You're Wrong About" started a series on Princess Diana, about a month after I finished reading The Diana Chronicles, which I started reading because "You're Wrong About" didn't have any episodes about her. I feel like I willed this into existence! And then the trailer for season 4 of The Crown came out today and it's full of Diana. I'm very prepared!

Out 19, 2020, 10:47am

Sorry for the lack of life updates. My mom came to visit in late September/early October. She stayed with my brother and sister-in-law for two days and then stayed at their house for 3 more days to take care of their dog while they went to a wedding. My sister-in-law's brother got married in Cape Cod, despite the fact that both entire families live in northern Virginia. The wedding was reduced from >200 people to less than 30, but still not a great idea. It was also held outside, but in a plastic tent, which is probably worse than holding it inside. My brother and sister-in-law decided they couldn't not attend without it being a Whole Thing, but they were very serious about quarantining for 14 days when they got home. My mom left their house a few hours before they got home and stayed with me for 2 days. While she was here she sold the small apartment building she owned here, which I think was a bad idea but whatever. Currently she is still planning to come down for Christmas with her husband and dog, they will just have to stay in a hotel and we'll figure out something else to do for Christmas dinner.

My dad is gallivanting around, though wearing a mask and staying outdoors. This weekend he went to the air force memorial (next to my apartment, just a couple miles from him); last weekend he went down to Colonial Williamsburg for the day. I don't love it but it seems to be the only thing that distracts him from his newest hobby - posting on Facebook. He used to post maybe once a week but now it's several dozen posts a day, almost all political. Maybe he'll get tired one day, but he's always viewed politics as a fun game so I won't hold my breath.

Everybody please wear your masks so this can be over sooner and my dad can do things besides post on Facebook!

I've signed up to work at the polls on election day. I'm not assigned to my own polling place but to one about a mile away. It's going to be a very long day - 5am to at least 10pm - but more than 30% of registered voters in my county had already voted as of last week so I don't think it's going to be very busy. I'll bring a couple books.

Out 19, 2020, 12:52pm

>57 norabelle414: Glad to see you got in a visit with your Mom. Sending you well wishes for maintaining patience with your Dad and his posting madness. Hope working at the polls goes smoothly for you!

How's Rory?

Out 27, 2020, 4:17pm

TV Updates:

The 100 - the last couple seasons haven't made any sense, but the series finale was appropriate. If you've enjoyed the show it won't disappoint you.
Baroness von Sketch Show - very excited to have this fun show back; sad it's the last season
Black-ish - this show does a great job of dealing with heavy subjects, but it's odd to see a bunch of actors talk about physical distancing and quarantine while sitting next to each other on a set.
COBRA - extremely bad British show. A solar flare causes a power outage which causes riots and "hardened prisoners from Lithuania" escaping from prison and only the Tories can save us
Connecting... - a remotely-filmed show about several friends who are always video chatting with each other. It's not great but the part where all their conversations start out light and fun and eventually everyone gets really upset is very relatable.
Devils - I didn't know finance could get MORE boring but it can
Doctor Who: The Faceless ones - A new animation of a 40 year old Doctor Who arc. The video of some episodes has been lost but the audio remains and was animated in a style that would not have been out of place at the time. A really cool idea! However, it seems only 3 episodes are available to watch with a normal cable subscription, and the other 3 require an "AMC Premiere" subscription. No thanks.
Fargo - I watched season 1 on Hulu recently and now I'm watching season 4 as it airs. It's very "prestigey" meaning that it looks and sounds nice but has no coherent plot
Filthy Rich - A wealthy, sketchy Mega-church pastor dies in a plane crash and leaves his likely ill-gotten gains to the illegitimate children that his wife and adult children didn't know about. Not for me, but if you like your drama turned up to 11 it might be for you
Flesh and Blood - short British drama about an older woman who gets remarried to the dismay of her adult children. Told from the perspective of a police interrogation, kind of like Big Little Lies. Not bad.
Kal Penn Approves This Message - Kal Penn talks to The Youths, because he thinks he's at least 15 years younger than he is.
NeXt - a bad puzzle-box show about an AI that is taking over the world and the only person who can stop it is its creator who is also suffering from paranoid delusions.
Pandora - I never thought I'd watch more of this mediocre show because there are so many other things to watch! But now....
Saturday Night Live - not great, especially considering the hoops they're jumping through to make the show right now
Soulmates - Take an interesting concept for a Black Mirror episode (there's a test you can take to find your soulmate) and make a whole anthology show out of it. For now it's good, because each episode has a different tone, but I'm not sure how long they can keep this up.
Swamp Thing - very entertaining DC show which originally aired on DC Universe but is now airing on the CW
The Trouble with Maggie Cole - a British show about a busybody in a small town who blabs her neighbors' business on the radio. Not terrible. A little funny, but a little too dramatic.
Van der Valk - crime procedural in Amsterdam
The Walking Dead: The World Beyond - Another Walking Dead spin-off? Sure. This one takes place years after the other two, and is about teens who don't remember what the world used to be like but also have been sheltered in a commune and don't know how to deal with zombies.
A Wilderness of Error - a docu-series about an allegedly botched murder investigation. The show implies that the murder case is famous but I had never heard of it and found the series too boring

The Emmys were really good this year! They didn't try to make anything feel "normal" and it worked.

A moment of silence for the shows I loved that were renewed for another season but then canceled: Stumptown, GLOW, The Society, I Am Not Okay With This, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

Editado: Out 31, 2020, 8:42pm

VERY sad about Glow and I am Not Okay With This. Such shames to loose them. Fucking Covid.

It feels like we went from a couple years of peak TV to a desolate wasteland. I'm just rewatching things because almost nothing new grabs me. I've been pleasantly surprised by Teenage Bounty Hunters even if it's pretty predictable.

Editado: Nov 2, 2020, 7:50pm

>58 MickyFine: Rory is the same as always! I'm glad to have someone here with me.

>60 leahbird: I'm feeling the same, though I have found some good new shows. The above list is network shows only, I had intended to post streaming shows separately but time got away from me. I found Julie and the Phantoms to be particularly soothing.

Nov 2, 2020, 7:50pm

I'm working at the polls tomorrow, from 5am to 10pm. Very excited to not be on my phone all day! I'm taking Wednesday off of work as well to recover and hopefully will be back to posting (and maybe reading??) after that.

Nov 9, 2020, 6:00pm

Just checking in, Nora.

Nov 10, 2020, 11:38am

>63 MickyFine: Thanks for the nudge :-)


Election day went smoothly. It was, in fact, incredibly boring. I was assigned to the smallest precinct in my county, with a total of 1500 registered voters. I was at an elementary school about a mile from my apartment, and the walk was very pleasant (despite the time, as I had to be there by 5am). There were 10 of us working at this polling station. We had about 150 voters between 6am and noon, and about 65 between noon and 7pm. I scrolled the internet a lot (which I had specifically signed up to work at the polls in order to NOT do) and actually did some reading. We had no voters after 6pm so we were able to get packed up very quickly once we closed and I was home well before 9pm. According to our numbers at the end of the night, the majority of our 215 in-person votes were Republican, but almost all of the 843 early and mail-in votes for the precinct were Democratic.

Nothing going on here since then. I'm quarantining for two weeks post-election: no going for walks, no grocery store, no picking up delivery food or packages from the lobby. I've left my apartment twice to take out the trash at 6am when there's little chance of running into anyone in the hallway. (I'll probably actually only quarantine for 12 days (assuming I'm still asymptomatic) because I prefer to go to the grocery store on Mondays.)

I avoided the news for a few (extremely pleasant) days. The idea of speculating and projecting and having watch parties and exclaiming that "we" "won" makes me sick to my stomach. Trump losing this election was like not getting hit by a car while walking in a blizzard to work at a big box store on Black Friday. If we had got hit by a car that would be incredibly awful, but even though we didn't there's still a blizzard and we still won't get to work until mid-January and that's when things will really get difficult.

I finished reading Oryx and Crake for the book club I lead, my 3rd time reading it, review to come soon. The book for January will be Mr. Hornaday's War: How a Peculiar Victorian Zookeeper Waged a Lonely Crusade for Wildlife That Changed the World.

Things that are stressing me out lately (in chronological order):

The Temperature - it's in the high 70s here but state law requires apartment buildings to provide heat after October 15. So the hallway outside my apartment is heated, I have no AC in the winter, the sun is streaming in my windows, and opening the windows is no respite because, again, it's in the high 70s outside.

Thanksgiving - usually my dad, brother, sister-in-law, cousin, his wife, their two kids, and I eat lunch at a restaurant about half an hour away and then go for a walk. The restaurant has a very nice huge outdoor eating area with heat lamps so I suggested we do the same thing and just eat outside. My dad says he contacted them and they are not open for Thanksgiving, but I'm not sure why that would be true. They're open every other day with their usual (fancy) menu and their Thanksgiving is always prix fixe only so you'd think they would want that guaranteed revenue. My dad suggested going to a different restaurant and eating in an outdoor tent, which I absolutely will not do. (Eating in an enclosed plastic tent is worse than eating inside a restaurant with the windows open.) Other options could include eating at my brother's house, either outside at a table in his parking spot or inside his house with the windows open. No one in my brothers neighborhood wears a mask, and neither my brother & sister in law nor my dad are being anywhere close to as careful as I would like. My dad is retired now and takes Lyfts all over the place to do (outdoor, masked) activities with other people almost every day, and my brother just got back from driving to florida to hang out with a friend. My cousin and his family likely will not join us this year, but in a plot twist my dad has a new girlfriend(?) and wants to bring her with him.

Christmas - my mom and her husband and dog usually drive down from Wisconsin and stay in an apartment in a small apartment building she owns and we have family activities almost all day on the 24th and 25th. My mom has sold the building so she would now be staying at a hotel. She did all the cooking previously so that would now all fall to my brother and sister-in-law since I'm not good at it and my kitchen is very small and my apartment is bad for hosting. But even if they're fine with cooking and hosting, it's not safe to spend more than 2 hours together in an enclosed space and that's the entire point of spending time at christmas together, so what then. It's also my turn to host dinner for my brother and sister-in-law and dad (and now possibly his girlfriend?) on Dec 26 but I'm less worried about that because I can keep it to about 2 hours with the windows open.

None of that even includes Christmas presents. Normally I would be finishing planning what to get/make everyone, but this year I haven't really started. Doesn't seem like there's much point and it's not like I can do any browsing for gifts in-person to get inspiration and I'm not sure if I should send everyone's presents directly to them in case we don't get to see each other.

My living situation - I've loved living in this apartment for 8 years because of the location. I can get downtown or to the airport in 20 minutes. I can get to the zoo in an hour. I can get to work in half an hour. The grocery store and a dozen restaurants are across the street. The library is a 10 minute walk through a park. But all of that is meaningless now. I haven't been to the airport in a year. I haven't been downtown or to the zoo or to work in 8 months. The library is closed. I go to the grocery store once every week or two, instead of anytime I need/want something. So what do I want now? There's a condo building about 15 minutes walk uphill from me that has many units for sale in my price range. Under normal circumstances I would feel very isolated living that far away from public spaces but now? If I'm going to be stuck at home it would be a much nicer place to be stuck.

So there you go. More than you wanted to know, I'm sure.

Nov 10, 2020, 12:00pm

Sorry to hear you're already feeling holiday stresses, Nora. *hugs*

Are you likely to remain working from home post-pandemic? Because that would definitely be a tick in favour of switching places to somewhere you have more space.

Would you like me to ship you some snow to cool off your apartment? We got a foot of it on the weekend with more forecasted for today so I can definitely spare some.

I am now on to season four of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and just watched the episode where they re-cast Greg and he returns. I enjoyed all the tongue in cheek jokes in that one and knowing how well Skylar Astin sings, I'm ok with him coming in.

Nov 10, 2020, 12:23pm

>64 norabelle414: I thought I would be less stressed after the election if Biden won, and I was, for about six hours. Then the republican reaction started hitting the internet and 45 refusing to concede and all the voter fraud conspiracy theories are making me feel worse, if anything.

I'm sorry you're stressed! I've been avoiding thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas because of the same issues. There are enough high-risk people in my family that I have a feeling we're probably just going to end up doing drive-by gift drop offs and maybe spending a few cold minutes outside just to say hi, and then maybe a video call later.

I have been so repeatedly grateful to live in my house during COVID. I agree with Micky -- if you think it's likely you'll do at least some working from home going forward, moving might make sense. Or maybe you can find something better than your current place that's closer to your ideal location? Real estate is weird -- maybe something will pop up! Sending good luck if you do choose that direction :)

Nov 10, 2020, 12:38pm

I'm sorry you're stressed, Nora. The holidays are going to suck in a lot of ways, I think. We are doing Thanksgiving a deux, which is okay, but kind of weird. It's my favorite holiday, so I'm sad not to be around more people for it. The Wayne is talking about Christmas as if we are definitely making our usual trip to his sister's in Virginia, and I finally told him I wasn't sure I'd be entirely comfortable doing that. Plus, assuming things stay the same, we'd have to completely quarantine for 14 days afterwards, per NJ regulations. We aren't doing a ton out of the house, but I'd at least like to be able to continue going to the supermarket ourselves, since Instacart always screws something up... Anyway, hollow words, but hang in there! Sending hugs and some of that delicious South African wine we enjoyed at our first meet-up (or was it just me who enjoyed (too much of) it?) :)

Nov 10, 2020, 10:11pm

>65 MickyFine: In 2022 or 2023? It's possible I could go back to the office. I absolutely hate working from home and if there was a safe alternative, I would take it. The condo units are not much bigger than my apartment (800 sqft vs 700 sqft) but the one I have my eye on has parquet floors and a balcony and the kitchen is absolutely enormous compared to my current 5 feet of counter space. There's also a sunroom separate from the living room so I could keep my bookshelves and electronics out of direct sunlight while still having a sunny place to read (and for Rory of course)

Yes, snow please! It's not supposed to hit freezing here at all until at least American Thanksgiving.

Re: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - oh no, that means you're almost at the end! :-(

>66 curioussquared: Regulating my exposure to social media and memes and speculation has really helped a lot. I read the real news from a few places (Washington Post, Politico, etc.) once a day, but removing myself from the 24/7 new cycle has 1) made me happier, and 2) does not give Trump what he wants, which is attention. I'm trying to separate staying informed about things that have actually happened (good) from speculating about things that might have happened or might happen in the future (stressful and unproductive) from concrete actions I can take for my community (great!). I've joined the mailing list of a local mutual aid network, and though I don't know what I actually have to offer, I have donated some money to start with.

Fortunately/Unfortunately, the building I have in mind is about as good as it gets. Everything east of my building, around the Metro, is rentals that are both more expensive AND smaller than what I have. To the north is the interstate, and to the south is a nice neighborhood of old, small, very expensive houses. The building directly west of me is luxe condos (twice as large, twice as expensive). The two smaller buildings behind that are condos which are fine but don't have any units for sale, and behind those is the building I have in mind. It's really quite close but up a very steep hill so the only ways to get there are a tall staircase or zigzag a few blocks out of the way. Any less expensive neighborhoods are far away from public spaces, and anything closer to where I would like to spend my time (if it were safe to spend my time where I like) is too expensive.

But I think I should just go for it because I don't have to live there forever!

>67 katiekrug: I'm sorry you'll miss your family but I'm glad you have The Wayne! It's very frustrating to live 2 miles each from my brother and my dad but not be able to see anyone because I don't trust them to be safe.

I think it was Uruguayan wine! I was sober enough to read the bottle ;-)

Editado: Nov 12, 2020, 4:10pm

I might have mentioned earlier that I bought myself some embroidery and cross stitch kits at the beginning of the pandemic to give me something to do. I started with this embroidery of cats:

(it's the same piece, just very different lighting)

Then I started a cross stitch kit of some colorful spring trees:

I took a break from that piece to make a DC subway map kit that I bought on Etsy:

Which I framed and gave to my brother for his birthday:

This week I finished the spring trees, which I'm going to give my mom for Christmas:

And now I'm working on a piece with lots of small potted plants for my sister-in-law for Christmas:

I have two more small kits I bought on Etsy waiting in the wings.

Does anyone else cross stitch or hand-embroider? Any suggestions of places to get supplies or things to look for as I transition from beginner to intermediate?

Nov 12, 2020, 4:13pm

>69 norabelle414: I've picked up cross-stitching again this year (hadn't done it since I was a teen) and I've been making cross-stitch Christmas stockings for Mr. Fine, my step-daughter, and me (although I'm helped on final sewing assembly by my Mom because I am not the best sewer). I ordered my kits from Merry Stockings which is based out of the US. I'm enjoying the cross-stitching so I'm eyeing maybe doing a sampler for some friends who are getting married next year, but we'll see. Sadly, my pattern source knowledge is pretty limited though.

Nov 12, 2020, 4:16pm

>69 norabelle414: I love them! I bought a couple of cross stitch kits at the beginning of the pandemic, too, off of Etsy, but haven't actually started them yet. Mine are both pretty floral designs paired with unexpected messages (I think one of them is flowers plus "F*** the patriarchy").

Nov 12, 2020, 4:32pm

>69 norabelle414: Cute! I sometimes cross-stitch (not lately, but I did a bit a couple years ago), but I have no advice about patterns or supplies beyond craft and fabric stores like JoAnn's or Michael's.

Nov 12, 2020, 4:52pm

>70 MickyFine: I really want to do a sampler but I haven't found one that I don't hate. There are lots of really great downloadable patterns on Etsy, but I'm not sure where to get thread and fabric? I really want something like for cross stitch / embroidery supplies.

>71 curioussquared: Thanks! Etsy has some really great kits. The F the Patriarchy ones seem to be really popular!


>69 norabelle414: For anyone interested, the cats and spring trees are from here:
The DC Metro map is from Sassi Stitch Boutique on Etsy:
The plants one that I've just started is from The Stitch Mill on Etsy:

Nov 12, 2020, 5:26pm

>72 foggidawn: I went to Michaels a couple weeks ago and they had basically nothing (granted this was an urban Michaels so it was very small.) I got a pack of basic colors of floss and some extra needles but they had no books, no kits, no fabric, and only 2 or 3 giant hoops. It was very disappointing! They have some things online but I don't find their website great to use if I don't know exactly what I'm looking for.

Nov 13, 2020, 7:47am

>74 norabelle414: Weird! Of course, I haven't been in a Michaels in years, because there's not one around here. And I'm in a more rural area; I think I actually got cross-stitch fabric at Walmart last time I needed some.

Nov 13, 2020, 10:43am

>73 norabelle414: My local library has been doing a virtual craft circle that I've been going to and I've learned about some great fiber stores that sell fabric/thread/yarn, etc. I did a quick Google and found this really awesome looking needlepoint store in DC - The Point of It All.

Nov 13, 2020, 3:02pm

>76 MickyFine: Looks very cute! I will have to check it out if things open up again, since they don't do shipping/delivery. I'm not sure what the difference is between cross stitch and needlepoint but needlepoint looks very expensive!

Nov 13, 2020, 3:05pm

>77 norabelle414: As I understand it (and I'm not an expert) needlepoint is an umbrella term for cross-stitch and embroidery.

Nov 17, 2020, 3:50pm

I have officially watched all of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (except for the live special). Bring out your gifs!

Nov 18, 2020, 12:57pm

On the same train, the LA Times interviewed Rachel Bloom. I am very excited at the prospect of her creating a Broadway show of The Nanny.

Nov 18, 2020, 8:22pm

>69 norabelle414: I am an erstwhile hardcore embroiderer. I really should have picked that back up during Covid but I haven't, mores the pity. Funnily enough, my needle keeper is also a hedgehog!

I can HIGHLY recommend Drop Cloth Samplers ( if you want to learn more stitches. I've done her original sampler and it's lovely but she has a second one and a monthly subscription.

For a billion patterns, I recommend Urban Threads ( They have lots of quirky fun things in just about every topic. I used to buy when they were on sale, which happens all the time. Then you can just print the designs in the size you want on Sticky FabriSolvy ( and then it washes away. I used to try to transfer patterns and it made me bonkers. The FabriSolvy is a godsend. I've even used it to make my own patterns out of photographs etc.

I bought most of my supplies from Michaels but sellers on Etsy (including Drop Cloth) often also have thread and hoops. Or Amazon in a pinch. DMC is probably the best known floss brand and you can buy direct on their website (

Nov 26, 2020, 5:15pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Nora. Whatever your celebrations ended up looking like this year I hope it's a good break for you. *hugs*

Nov 27, 2020, 2:19am

This Brit wishes to express his thanks for the warmth and friendship that has helped sustain him in this group, Nora.

Nov 28, 2020, 10:04am

Chloe just learned to cross stitch using card stock with a hole pattern and a dull needle. She is loving it so I got her a couple kids stitch kits for her stocking.

Dez 5, 2020, 11:59pm

Wishing you a great weekend, Nora.

Dez 12, 2020, 12:54pm

I'm around, just busy and stressed. I'll be back after Christmas, at the latest.

Dez 14, 2020, 8:42am

>86 norabelle414: I feel that! This week is going to be a busy one for me, too.

Dez 15, 2020, 9:42pm

Quickly back to mention some Christmas movies/shows I've watched:

Holidate - good, funny
Dash & Lily - Very delightful! (The first episode is extremely pretentious but I loved it after episodes 2 and 3)
Happiest Season - Flawed but I enjoyed many parts of it
The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again - Same as the first one but with THREE Vanessas Hudgens
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey - Pretty good; great music
Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square - bad, sometimes in an entertaining way and sometimes not
Over Christmas - A German series (mini-series? it's 3 one hour episodes) about a failed musician who goes back to his small hometown for Christmas to find out that his brother is dating his ex-girlfriend. Very sweet and delightful and will scratch all your Christmas rom-com-family-dram itches if you don't mind subtitles.

(I've been watching a lot of German historical fiction lately and it was a very different experience to watch something contemporary where the characters often use English slang!)

And a reminder that last year I watched and loved
Home For Christmas - A Norwegian show about a 30yo woman whose family treats her terribly because she's not married, so she tells them she will be bringing a boyfriend home for Christmas dinner. But she doesn't have a boyfriend. So she goes on a bunch of dates with a bunch of guys who are not bad!
Season 2 comes out on Friday!

Dez 16, 2020, 1:06pm

I felt the same about Dash & Lily and Happiest Season! I generally HATE Christmas shows/movies but enjoyed both.

Happiest Season made me happy even though it's deeply flawed. Dan Levy and Audrey Plaza were delightful as always and the sister drama was super relatable.

Shockingly, however, HS mostly made me NEED Kristen Stewart & Mackenzie Davis to star in a Fried Green Tomatoes remake. I don't know why when I've been VERY against a remake (remakes in general really) and I don't usually like Kristen Stewart that much, but it's become a little all-consuming now...

Dez 24, 2020, 6:12pm

Dez 24, 2020, 11:01pm

Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Dez 25, 2020, 11:35am

I hope you get some of those at least, Nora, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

Dez 31, 2020, 5:38am

Hi Norabelle414
I read Oryx and Crake this year, and was not disappointed.
Margaret Atwood is definitely one of the most admired (and most enjoyed) writers on my list.
Her dystopian world-view is based solidly on scientific fact, moderated by a wry sense of humour.
I find her to be stimulating, enertaining, and alarming in almost equal parts..
Hope you enjoyed it too.

Dez 31, 2020, 9:55pm


As the year turns, friendship continues

Jan 2, 10:31am

2020 Statistics

In 2020, I read 21 books. (This more than last year!)
4,763 pages, plus 1 day, 20 hours, and 22 minutes of audiobooks.
I averaged 38 days per book, 13 pages per day, 2.10 books per month.
Average book length was 226 pages.

The longest paper book was The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge at 504 pages; the longest audiobook was The Diana Chronicles at 21 hours and 21 minutes. The shortest paper book was Sanditon (unfinished draft) at 66 pages; the shortest audiobook was Strega Nona at 10 minutes.

I acquired 22 books.
I bought 13 books.
I deaccessioned 6 books.

11 (52%) of the books I read had female authors/artists (for graphic novels I am counting only the artist, not the author).
11 (52%) were marketed for adults, 5 (24%) for young adults, and 5 (24%) for children.
2 (10%) had authors/artists of color, and 2 (10%) had a main character of color.
2 (10%) had LGBTQ authors/artists, and 2 (10%) had an LGBTQ main character.
None were translated from another language.

11 books (52%) were purchased by me. 7 (33%) were checked out from the library. 1 was free. 0 books were borrowed from another person, 0 were gifts, and 2 (10%) were free early review copies.
17 books (81%) were physical books, 0 were digital, and 4 (19%) were audiobooks.

18 (86%) were prose books. 0 were plays. 3 (14%) were comics. None were poetry.
14 books (67%) were fiction, and 7 (33%) were non-fiction.

4 books (19%) were rereads. 2 books (10%) were published in 2020. 19 books (90%) were published before 2020, and 11 (52%) were published before 2010. The oldest book I read was Sanditon, written in 1817, though not published until 1925.

My best reading months were January and February, in which I finished 4 books each. My worst reading months were June and October, in which I finished 0 books.

My most-read genre was speculative fiction/science fiction/fantasy/horror, of which I read 7 books (33%). 3 (14%) books each were adventure/mystery/thriller and science nonfiction. 2 (10%) each were general fiction, historical fiction, history nonfiction, and biography/memoir.

My Top Five Books of 2020:
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Dishonorable Mention:
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (transphobic and bad)
Scythe by Neal Schusterman (not that bad, just not for me)

Jan 2, 10:49am

Excellent year end stats, Nora!

Jan 2, 11:23am

20. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Listened partly in audiobook narrated by Campbell Scott

The man formerly known as Jimmy tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic world while remembering his adolescent friendship with the man who destroyed everything. They began their life sheltered in a corporate compound, grew up to be the smartest of the smart while the outside world suffered, and then decided they could do better than Mother Nature. Now there is only Jimmy, the last real human, and the results of their hubris.

When I selected this book in November 2019 to be read in November 2020 I had no idea it would become so relevant! This was was at least my 3rd time reading it, if not 4th or 5th. This time I thought constantly about the people in the plebelands, outside the compounds. What was their life really like, aside from Jimmy's limited narration? I doubt it was really so bad that destruction would be better. Crake claimed to see through corporate hypocrisy and greed, but he still couldn't see the humanity of the poor, or actually care about anyone.

I always say each read of this book will be my last, but it probably won't be.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ♥ (4.5/5)

Jan 2, 11:43am

21. Lovecraft Country (Audiobook) by Matt Ruff, narrated by Kevin Kenerly

In the 1950s, Atticus Turner, his uncle George, and his friend Letitia travel into the darkest depths of Massachusetts to find what happened to Atticus' father Montrose, who disappeared and left behind a mysterious note. They arrive at a mansion in the midst of a meeting of white "philosophers", intent on discovering the secrets of the universe. They rescue Montrose and race home, but the mystical society of white men will follow them back home to Chicago, and will continue to affect each of them in unusual and mysterious ways.

This book, both in story and in format, was so much fun. The beginning section seems like the start to a straightforward novel, but the middle section is a series of short stories. Each member of the family is the main character of a different, but intertwined, fantastical short story similar to Lovecraft or Ray Bradbury. There's time travel, monsters, ghosts, everything! It's perfect! The ending brings all the characters back again to wrap up like a novel, but I found that kind of disappointing after the delight of the stories.

Highly, highly recommended.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ♥ (4.5/5)

Jan 2, 11:46am

Sorry for the confusion! Those are my last reviews for 2020. Year-end stats are posted above (click here)

New thread is here!

Happy New Year!