Friday, August 30, 2013

Morning Coffee (8/30/13)

Happy Friday! And happy long weekend!

Jessica Fletcher earrings!

Skull sugar cubes!

Game of Thrones cookies!

Bacon cars?

Whoa, look at this latte art.

Adorable baby elephant plays in a kiddie pool, makes series British news announcer collapse into giggles.

Which means it's Sesame Street throwback time.

A Russian zoo has named its adorable baby albino hedgehogs George, Alexander, and Louis after the prince.

Therapy llamas! Okay, yeah, we need more Sesame Street. It's that kind of Friday.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Podcast Recommendation: Seven Ages of Science

I don't know about you, but I do a fair number of tasks at work that are important but pretty mindless and repetitive, so I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work to keep myself from entirely losing my mind. And I'm sure it will shock you to hear that a lot of my favorite podcasts are from the BBC. In addition to their regular ongoing shows, they've done a bunch of limited-run shows on a variety of historical topics.* One I've been enjoying this summer is Seven Ages of Science. Their description:
Lisa Jardine traces the evolution of scientific endeavour in Britain over the last four centuries. We often hear how science has changed our world. In this series of seven programmes, Lisa explores how our world has changed science: pushing it in new directions, creating new disciplines and pioneering new approaches to scientific understanding. It’s a history of science that weaves science back into the fabric of everyday life and shows how the concerns of the scientist are the concerns of us all.
The episodes are about half an hour long, and episode four - "Age of Inspiration" - just came out. I love history of science stuff because, well, it lets me think about history and interesting scientific ideas at the same time, and this series has been an enjoyable overview. You can subscribe via iTunes or RSS or download individual episodes.

* Most of these are still available in free archives. I can do another post with links to my favorites, if you'd like.

Morning Coffee (8/28/13)

Terrible: Montana teacher gets 30 days in jail in rape of 14-year-old student who later kills herself

Fox fans, here are fall preview videos for Bones, Almost Human, Sleepy Hollow, Glee, and more.

Ugh, Jamie Oliver.

Davis & White's Olympic ice dances will be to My Fair Lady and Scheherazade. I am happy.

Sigh: N.F.L. Pressure Said to Lead ESPN to Quit Film Project

Fascinating: The Man Behind The Historic Implosion Of The Ex-Gay Movement

Even I think it's too early for Christmas music.

Heh: 15 things you absolutely must know about social media or your face will melt off and get eaten by goats

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy First Day of School!

No, I'm not going to school. (I wish!) But today is the first day back in both my hometown and the city where I now live, and I can hear the children who live in my apartment complex congregating outside as I write this, and it just feels like the start of something, you know? September has always felt more like a new year to me than January ever does - especially since it means the end of the hot weather that makes me feel like I can barely function, let alone be creative or productive. So I'm taking this first day of school as a time to reassess, to regroup, to start getting myself back into my normal routine that I've let slip a bit over the past few months. I want to be reading more, writing more, watching more, knitting more (Christmas is coming!), thinking more - and that school bus outside seems like as good an impetus as any.

What does that mean for this blog? More posts, I hope! (And more consistent linking to things I write elsewhere.) Much as I love compiling Morning Coffee, I never intended for that to be virtually all I do here. What would you like to see me write about in this space? TV stuff? Book reviews? Knitting? Food? More pictures? Ramblings about the Issues Of The Day or whatever random thing catches my fancy (like this post, I guess)? I'm sure I'll end up just posting whatever strikes me, but it would be great to know what interests those of you who are reading.

And to those of you who are headed back to school, or are sending your kids - good luck! I hope everything goes wonderfully! Sharpen a pencil for me!

Morning Coffee (8/27/13)

Wendy Felton's liveblogs of the Vogue September issue are always delightful, and this year is no exception.

Also check out her Q&A about the liveblogs.

And from that issue, you're probably interested in this Wendy Davis profile.

That Diana movie will be out on November 1st.

Forthcoming game The Novelist looks awesome and terrifying and heartbreaking.

Interesting: The Arrival of Women in the Office

24 Things Single People Are Tired of Hearing

Baby tigers!!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Morning Coffee (8/23/13)

IT'S FINALLY FRIDAY. Yay.

If you somehow hadn't heard yet, Ben Affleck is going to be Batman and everyone's really confused.

Here is Nathan Fillion covered in kittens. Because it's Friday and I try to include happy things on Fridays.

40 Trashy Novels You Must Read Before You Die I have somehow only read four. Must remedy this. (Can you guess which four?)

Awesome Farmer Builds Water Slide for Pigs

Holy Land U.S.A. is actually in the city where I was born, and not that obscure, since anyone driving on 84 can see the GIANT CROSS from the highway.

New music from Butch Walker!

Just putting this here: 300 Kate Bushes gather in park to re-enact Wuthering Heights, break record

Here is a Twitter version of Dickens, because . . . I don't know, whatever. It's Friday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Morning Coffee (8/22/12)

Wow: How One Woman Talked The Would-Be Georgia School Shooter Down

Yay: Hollywood Game Night, which I found to be an unexpected delight this summer, has been renewed.

Hmm: Netflix has a new smart My List feature in place of the Instant Queue. Color me intrigued.

But if you want the old version back, here's a really simple tutorial.

This is from The Onion but is one of those pieces of theirs that is actually completely accurate: Seemingly Mentally Ill Internet Commenter Presumably Functions In Outside World

I am in several of these niches: Things That Are Universally Liked Within a Very Particular Demographic

If you want to feel clever (well, or not) here's one of those "match the quote to the book" quizzes. (Those really aren't all YA books, though.)

And here's a fascinating essay on arranged marriage.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Morning Coffee (8/21/13)

Sad news: Marian McPartland has died.

More sad news: Elmore Leonard has died.

And The Onion's obituary is pretty great.

Okay, happy news: Tim Stevens (formerly of Engadget) is headed to CNET.

Oooh, sneak peek from season three of Borgen!

An agent friend being smart: There is no perfect publisher.

TiVo has an amazing new model that I want badly.

Here's a little dose of adorableness for Bones fans.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Morning Coffee (8/15/13)

Here is the Duke of Cambridge pinning a rosette on a cow, just because I thought you might want to see that.

You must read Amanda Hess's take on Bustle.

I didn't know that the worst U.S. maritime disaster was also the worst shark attack in history.

Fascinating and horrifying: The Poorest Rich Kids in the World

How do teen social groups get their names?

Editing V.C. Andrews

Interesting read on Pippa Middleton and the media.

Old, but interesting: Qantas is giving out paperbacks timed to the length of their flights.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Morning Coffee (8/14/13)

Extremely exciting local news: We're finally getting a Whole Foods! I saw the sign with my own eyes yesterday!

Interesting. The Emmys are moving to August next year.

This list of the world's top-earning authors doesn't contain many surprises, but it's still interesting.

Finally: Against open-concept kitchens.

I saw a copy of this 1931 "Histomap" on the wall at a tourist attraction recently and it was pretty fascinating.

You really need to see some of these terrible celebrity wedding dresses.

The most popular baby names in England and Wales last year: Amelia and Harry.

Elections before the secret ballot

Friday, August 9, 2013

Morning Coffee (8/9/13)

Happy Friday!

I (uncharacteristically enough) posted two things after Morning Coffee yesterday, so if you missed them: here's why I liked Broadchurch and here's a rant about Doctor Who and the "fake geek girls" myth.

Sad news: Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Mertz/Barbara Michaels has died. I love her books.

Okay, back to Friday happy. Ooh, Mira Nair's upcoming Bengali Detective sounds fun.

Clarence House now seems to be Instagramming St. James's Palace, which is just delightfully meta.

Curiosity has been on Mars for a year and played "Happy Birthday" to itself. I can't.

Ooh, pretty university libraries.

An early short story by Stieg Larsson is being published, but they rather buried the lede here: the anthology it's in is called A Darker Shade of Sweden, just in case all the rest of those Swedish crime novels are TOO LIGHT AND HAPPY for you.

The Scholastic Book Club is back!

Monaco's having two royal weddings!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hey, women, stop perpetuating the "fake geek girl" myth!

Today this essay started popping up on my Twitter feed and promptly enraged me and several of my friends, but really, it's just the latest example of a genre that crops up far, far too often. In it, the (female) writer expresses her very serious worry that Stephen Moffat and the BBC have risked the entire Doctor Who franchise by casting an "all wrong" person as the twelfth Doctor - and by "all wrong" she means not that Peter Capaldi* is another white male, but that he's a white male who isn't young and hot enough. She states that the show's popularity is due to the sex appeal of the last three Doctors and that this casting means it will "potentially lose half its audience."

And this way of thinking, this common, common way of thinking about young women and their media consumption, well, it makes me want to throw things. Because it does a terrible disservice to everyone, really, but specifically to those young women and to young girls coming of age in this society that assumes that they can't actually like something because it's good, that they can only be lured in by pretty boys and pandering to their shallow - young women must be shallow, you know - frivolous interests. Did having attractive people on the show help grow Doctor Who's audience? Sure. (You know what else has attractive people? Virtually every show on TV.) Is having a lust object literally the only reason for young women to watch a science fiction show? No! That's ridiculous! Apparently this might be a shocking statement, but I swear, young women will watch shows they like, and they'll like things for any number of different reasons. It's almost like they're people or something.

But no, of course young women couldn't watch a science fiction show because they like science fiction. People like the writer of the above essay (and there are many; this is just the one that pushed me over the edge) are careful to say that they themselves like the show on its own merits, of course, but everyone else, all those FAKE geek girls, they must be the majority and they can't possibly be watching for the "right" reasons, and therefore they must be patronized and pandered to at every opportunity. It's infuriating enough when men say things like this, but seriously, women, stop spreading this nonsense about other women. You're not making yourself look better by claiming you're not one of "them." You're just making things worse for everyone, because by reinforcing the idea that young women have a very narrow range of interests, you're encouraging people to make a narrow range of entertainment options for all of us. And by saying women will only watch a Doctor who's young and hot, you're giving every man - and woman - who's looking for it permission to dismiss the opinions of the women at their gaming stores, at their conventions, in their lives, and to take for granted that the women around them aren't really people with a right to be there, because they're just "fake geek girls."

* I don't want to get too far into the specifics of any actors, as that's not really my point here, but I'll just say that I think Capaldi is very talented (and, you know, attractive, which it IS possible for someone over the age of 41 to be!) and I've quite liked him in other things, and I'm looking forward to seeing him in the role.

Hurrah for Broadchurch!

British crime drama Broadchurch premiered on BBC America last night, so I realize that now pretty much everyone is writing posts that say "Yay Broadchurch! It was great!" But I feel compelled to add my voice to the chorus - yay! It was great! While I do like traditional murder-of-the-week crime shows, I am also enjoying this current (mainly European, it seems) trend of slower shows that trace one investigation over the course of a season or more. (I even liked season two of the U.S. version of The Killing. I know, I know.) When done correctly, these slower investigations mean that the detectives we follow from case to case aren't the only real characters. The people in the victim's life, who in most procedurals are brief guest stars, get to be multidimensional characters in their own right - if the show is written correctly, at least, and so far it looks like Broadchurch is. The victim's family, the newsagent, and the local reporters are already interesting, and I look forward to seeing how it develops everyone further.

Broadchurch is set up with some familiar elements - the victim's slightly shady parent, a friend with secrets, small town intrigue - but that's by no means a bad thing. The conventions of the genre exist for a reason, and there's space to do almost anything within that framework. Among the cast, David Tennant's getting most of the attention, of course, but others shine too and the variety of interesting female characters are worth some focus as well: Olivia Colman as an ambitious detective who also happens to be a mother, Jodie Whittaker and Charlotte Beaumont as the victim's mother and sister, Carolyn Pickles as the local newspaper editor with unflinching standards, Vicky McClure as a somewhat mysterious and morally questionable young ambitious reporter. Now that I think about it, in the first episode, at least, more time was given to the women's career ambitions than to the men's, and it will be interesting to see how that progresses.

I'm not going to promise to write about Broadchurch every week, because inevitably something would happen to prevent that, but I'll try to check back in next week, at least, to see if the second episode lived up to the hopes I have after watching the first. If you missed it, it looks like BBC America is rerunning the premiere on Friday at 11pm. And at the moment, you can watch the premiere for free online, though I'm not sure how long that will last.

Morning Coffee (8/8/13)

My friends Heather and Crissy have their Vampire Diaries companion book Love You to Death 4 coming out soon, and look who wrote the foreword!

The awesome Holly Black is touring in September, including some New England dates. Go see her!

Leonardo DiCaprio might play Harald Hardrada, and I appreciate that the first line of this piece is basically "But he's already playing Rasputin!", because that was my exact reaction.

After last night's Broadchurch (more on that later), if you need a phone notification sound of David Tennant yelling "Bloody Twitter!", well, here you go.

Ryan is wise: “Doctor Who” has a new lead, but is in more desperate need of a new showrunner

I had no idea about this history of The Oregon Trail. (The game, not the actual historical thing.)

Interesting read: Who Am I to Judge? Francis Redefines the Papacy

Stephen King's Family Business

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013

Morning Coffee (8/5/13)

Good news that broke while I was away: The Old Reader is sticking around!

Not news, but I was telling a friend about this site for mystery readers this weekend, and it's such a useful resource that I like just putting it out there occasionally: Stop, You're Killing Me!

Your Monday morning probably needs this: Fox Steals Cell Phone, Sends Text in Language of the Foxes

Today in unexpected headlines: Singer Kelly Clarkson prevented from taking Jane Austen's ring from UK

This is an article about an indexing feud. That is all.

10 Highbrow Authors Who Gave Acting a Try

NASA photo, meant to inspire, sparks useless government investigation

Here's George R.R. Martin on the Targaryen Civil War.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Morning Coffee (8/1/13)

August? How is it August? Anyway, I'm going to Vermont tonight and trying to convince myself not to bring my laptop, so probably no post tomorrow. See you Monday!

Harry Potter's birthday was yesterday, and here are some interesting statistics.

Don't Ignore the Trolls. Feed Them Until They Explode.

Oh awesome, they found a missing Stradivarius!

Dear authors: If I want your newsletter, I can click “subscribe” myself.

The Zach drama on Breaking Pointe this season is AMAZING.

Ooh, I knew nothing of this Alexander Hamilton scandal.

When people define fantasy novels they think are good as "not really fantasy," it is crazy-making.

A Cub Reporter On The Summer Hamptons Beat