Etsy Shop on Break: Off to Worldcon 75!

Ahem Ahem!, Geek out!

Since contributing to the Helsinki in 2017 campaign to get Worldcon to Finland, I haven’t spoken much about Worldcon 75 here; my W75 Kermit-flailing has taken place at my hobby blog.

Well, the time has come. We’re about to set off to Helsinki!

My August 2017 Desk Calendar W75

The Playfully Grownup Home Etsy shop is in vacation mode. I will make it available again on Monday, August 21, 2017.

I’m very, very excited! Not only do I get to visit friends and relations, I get to hang out with my geeky friends and hopefully make new ones.

In the meanwhile, hope to see you in Helsinki – but if not, I hope you enjoy your August!

Discoveries: Shadow Doodles by Vincent Bal

Arts & Crafts, Thumbs Up

Vincent Bal looks at shadows from a different perspective. His drawings turn the shadows of everyday items into something quite different. Below are just a few of my favorites.

An apple core becomes an owl:

Instagram Vincent Bal Apple Core

Vincent Bal at Instagram.

A glass of merlot turns into a UFO abduction scene:

Instagram Vincent Bal UFO

Vincent Bal at Instagram.

And a bulb of garlic bears an uncanny resemblance to E.T.:

Instagram Vincent Bal Garlic ET

Vincent Bal at Instagram.

Visit Bal’s Instagram or Etsy shop for more!

Found via Good Stuff Happened Today.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

2017 Jane Austen Rewatch: Northanger Abbey

Books & Mags, Movies & TV

Our grand Jane Austen rewatch continues. Northanger Abbey (c. 1798-1799, posthumously published in 1817) parodies the wildly popular gothic novels of the time.

Jane Austen Rewatch Northanger Abbey

The 2007 movie version (screenplay by Andrew Davies, directed by Jon Jones) is the only one I’ve ever seen, although apparently there’s a version from 1987 as well. (Note to self: find it! That one has Cornelius Fudge er, Robert Hardy!)

The story covers a young naive heroine’s adventures first in Bath and afterwards at a remote country estate with a dark secret. JASNA provides a handy map for tracking the physical locations of the story:

JASNA Northanger Abbey Locations map-na-1200

Map of locations in Northanger Abbey. Jane Austen Society of Australia, via JASNA.

Felicity Jones stars as Catherine Morland, and Mr. Tilney is portrayed by JJ Feild (elsewhere e.g. Captain America: The First Avenger). Felicity Jones has also appeared in the brilliant Agatha Christie Doctor Who episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp” and later in Rogue One.

Both leads are top-notch, especially Felicity Jones as the wide-eyed and innocent Catherine, but the supporting cast is thoroughly excellent, too. I have no qualms with the adaptation; it’s a solid job through and through.

My favorite scene:

In the beginning, Catherine is actually shown running outdoors playing with her siblings instead of replacing her active, unladylike childhood with a voiceover introduction.

Unfortunately no-one’s uploaded a clip of that online, so here’s the PBS trailer instead:

NORTHANGER ABBEY | Official Trailer | PBS

Read more about this Jane Austen rewatch project.

2017 Jane Austen Rewatch: Lady Susan

Books & Mags, Movies & TV

Starting off the mini-reviews for our grand Jane Austen rewatch with Love and Friendship!

Lady Susan is one of Jane Austen’s earlier, less mature works. She started it circa 1794 and finished in 1805 when Austen was about 19; it was posthumously published in 1871. To my knowledge, it hasn’t been adapted to screen before Whit Stillman wrote and directed Love and Friendship, which was released in 2016. (I fansqueed about the production earlier.)

Jane Austen Rewatch Lady Susan

The original epistolary novel feels rather hastily wrapped up, as if Austen became less and less satisfied with letters as the sole plot-carrying devices. The adaptation naturally takes liberties, but the added dialogue and most of the scenes feel convincingly Austenian.

One successful change is the introduction of all major characters with almost still vignettes upon their first appearance. Kate Beckinsale’s Lady Susan Vernon is impeccably nuanced; a glorious performance of an odious character.

However, a new-to-me actor, Tom Bennett, completely steals the show as the rich, kind, thoroughly good-natured but unfortunately dim-witted Sir James Martin. Check out a glimpse of his cluelessness in the trailer – look for the “tiny green balls” and “Churchill” scenes:

Love & Friendship Official Trailer #1 (2016) – Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny Movie HD via Movieclips Trailers

Sir James Martin [at a dinner table]: “How jolly. Tiny green balls. What are they called?”

Reginald de Courcy: “Peas.”

**

Sir James Martin [while visiting a country estate by the name of Churchill]: “Churchill? That’s how you say it – all together like that. I’d heard ‘church’ and ‘hill’ but couldn’t find either. All I could see was this big house.”

There’s unfortunately some clumsiness in transitions (maybe due to cutting decisions?) and in a few scenes. The supposed appeal of Lord Manwaring also totally escapes me. I don’t think he was even given any lines at all in the screenplay (as opposed to a completely redundant country curate who did get to speak).

All in all, though, it’s great to see the story finally on screen.

Read more about this Jane Austen rewatch project.

Major Roman Roads Subway Map Style

Design & Designers, Geek out!, Stunt Double

A very, very cool map of major Roman roads done in subway map style:

Sasha Trubetskoy roman_roads_24_jun

Sasha Trubetskoy.

Made by Sasha Trubetskoy, statistics major and designer, artist, and geography and data nerd.

Really fascinating! I know there were also some Roman roadworks running at least partially across the land from east to west along Hadrian’s Wall in Britain, but I don’t know whether there ever was a complete major road there.

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Random Beauty: A Pink July Sunset

Ahem Ahem!, Random Beauty

Spring is my absolute favorite time of the year, but summer is great, too. A case in point: a July sunset near our house from a few years ago:

July Sunset

Isn’t it amazing? I find the pink cloud cover turning gradually to purple especially striking.

In business-related news, I’m taking a few days off to attend my cousin’s wedding. My Etsy shop is in vacation mode for the duration, and instead of a fresh post, I’ll be reblogging from my hobby blog Co-Geeking on Monday.

A Jane Austen Rewatch Project for the 200th Anniversary of Her Passing

Books & Mags, Movies & TV

Exactly 200 years ago today, July 18, 1817, my favorite (deceased) author Jane Austen died. In honor of the bicentennial, Husband and I rewatched all of the screen adaptations that we could easily get our hands on.

JASNA Truth Universally Acknowledged Book Always Better

Screencap from the JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) web page.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that the book is always better than the movie, but what fun it can be to watch those movies!”

In addition to the versions we own, which are delightfully many…

Jane Austen Rewatch Owned Adaptations

…I hunted down three versions through the local library:

Jane Austen Rewatch Adaptations from LibraryJane Austen Rewatch Adaptations from Library

All in all, we saw 17 adaptations. In the weeks to come, I’ll post some mini-reviews. I’ll treat them in clusters based on the original Austen work; in other words, every adaptation of Emma we saw is discussed in one post, etc.

And here is the publication / written in order of Austen’s major finished works:

  • Lady Susan (c. 1794, 1805; posthumously published in 1871) – adapted to film as Love and Friendship
  • Northanger Abbey (c. 1798-1799, posthumously published in 1817)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1811)
  • Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  • Mansfield Park (1814)
  • Emma (1815)
  • Persuasion (1816, posthumously published in 1817)

The links lead to my mini reviews.

We wanted to stick with versions of Austen’s novels instead of just anything Austen-related. That meant that the biopic-ish Miss Austen Regrets (2008, with the excellent Olivia Williams as Jane Austen), the fun Death Comes to Pemberley (2013) and Austenland (2013), for example, were out.

Unfortunately, I still missed a few. For example, there’s apparently a Welcome to Sanditon (a modern version of the unfinished novel Sanditon from 2013) that I haven’t seen at all. This time I also skipped a Pride and Prejudice version from 1980 that had some great moments, if memory serves. Ohwell – more to watch another time! 🙂

Please feel free to follow along and comment on your favorites!

Amatka Book Talks by Karin Tidbeck in BOS, NYC, and San Diego

Books & Mags

Swedish fantasy and weird author Karin Tidbeck is giving book talks on her debut novel Amatka in the United States.

Karin Tidbeck Amatka

Amatka was originally released in Swedish in 2012. It was first published in English a few weeks ago, at the end of June 2017. The publisher describes the novel as follows:

“A surreal debut novel set in a world shaped by language in the tradition of Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Le Guin.

“Vanja, an information assistant, is sent from her home city of Essre to the austere, wintry colony of Amatka with an assignment to collect intelligence for the government. Immediately she feels that something strange is going on: people act oddly in Amatka, and citizens are monitored for signs of subversion.

“Intending to stay just a short while, Vanja falls in love with her housemate, Nina, and prolongs her visit. But when she stumbles on evidence of a growing threat to the colony, and a cover-up by its administration, she embarks on an investigation that puts her at tremendous risk.”

In connection with the book birthday, Tidbeck will do a short publicity tour in the U.S. First, she’ll appear at Readercon 28 in Quincy, south of Boston, on July 13-16, 2017. (No further details at this writing.)

There’ll be a second book talk at New York City’s Scandinavia House on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at 7 p.m. (free entry).

Finally, Tidbeck will be at Comic-Con in San Diego on July 20-23, 2017. (No further details at this writing.)

I haven’t read Tidbeck before, but Amatka sounds intriguing. She describes the birth of the novel in a blog post like this:

“I had spent some years collecting dream notes, and I found myself wondering if they could be mapped. What did my dream country look like? I found that some places showed up again and again, although the geography, events and people shifted. I ended up ordering the notes according to an imagined compass: north, south, east and west, and finally, a central city. […]

“Vanja, a somewhat reluctant protagonist, agreed to be my guide. But what was the world? Dreams, as I thought of them, are ruled by language. What would Vanja’s life be like? What would a society be like in a world where language ruled over matter? The story of Amatka began to unfold. It broke loose from my dream continent and became a world of its own.”

On the surface it sounds a bit like LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Emmi Itäranta’s The Weaver. The way Tidbeck talks of language ruling over matter also reminds me of the way mathematics rules over reality in Yoon Ha Lee’s The Ninefox Gambit. As a linguist, I’m doubly intrigued and excited to read Amatka!

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

July 2017 Library Reading Pile

Books & Mags

Now that the Hugo Awards reading is aaallmost done, I’m looking forward to other interesting reads like these:

Library Reading Pile Jul 2017

All of the books above come from my regional library system or local library. Very nice!

(Anne Corlett: The Space between the Stars; Meg Elison: The Book of Etta; Nicky Drayden: The Prey of Gods; Neil deGrasse Tyson: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry; Karin Tidbeck: Amatka)

Multicolor Coordinating Bag Tassel

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Fabrics & Materials

Do you ever make tassels? Back when I was playing with book bag prototypes, just on a whim I made a tassel for one of them:

Fuchsia Book Bag w Tassel Closeup

It’s attached to the top of the side seam, so it’s not really a bag charm.

Fuchsia Book Bag w Tassel

 

I made it with yarns that match the fabric colors, with fuchsia on the outside and pale yellow and two different greens on the inside.

I still like how the other shades peek through the hot pink. I’m just not sure how practical it is. Thoughts?