nightdog_barks: (Facepalm)
The China that existed in the minds of millions of Americans was the most illusory of countries, filled as it was with dutiful, obedient peasants who liked America and loved Americans, who longed for nothing so much as to be like them. It was a country where ordinary peasants allegedly hoped to be more Christian and were eager, despite the considerable obstacles in their way, to rise out of what Americans considered a heathen past. Millions of Americans believed not only that they loved (and understood) China and the Chinese, but that it was their duty to Americanize the Chinese. "With God's help, we will lift Shanghai up and up, ever up until it is just like Kansas City," said Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska, one of the Republicans who would become a particularly bitter critic of the administration for its China policies (and who once referred to French Indochina as Indigo-China).

~ David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, "The Politics of Two Continents," page 223
nightdog_barks: (Sunflower)
Well, it appears we have gone straight from winter to summer. It was 92 here yesterday (33.3 Celsius) and today it is supposed to be around 88 (31.1). Everything is green and growing, but jeez this is too warm too early.

Anyway. Here are the last three books I've read ...

1) All Things Cease to Appear, by Elizabeth Brundage. I liked this a lot! Unfortunately I thought the ending was way too rushed and tied up much too neatly, but it was still a very good read. It's a ghost story/murder story (I'm calling it "murder story" instead of murder mystery because c'mon, there's really no mystery about who the killer is), with distinct echoes of Donna Tartt (a lead character is an art historian at a small upstate New York university) and Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley). The author does a great job of a place in time (the late '70s), and I'd be interested in picking up another book by her.

2) Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard. (Actually it's a much longer title but I'm not going to type it all out kthx.) Omg I loved this. Millard has the wonderful ability to take a story we already know the answer to (Winston Churchill's capture and escape from the Boers during the Boer War) and make it nail-bitingly exciting. RISKS! CHILLS! THRILLS! WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Well, dead, but still. Somebody should make a movie of this. Two thumbs up! :D

3) Sweet Lamb of Heaven, by Lydia Millet. I wanted to like this. I really did. Woman hears voices in her mind, woman leaves creepy husband, woman finds refuge in run-down old motel on the Maine coast ... woman's story descends into New Age-y psychobabble about God, the language of trees and other plants, metaphysics, and an antagonist who is either God, the Devil, or a technological glitch in reality. I don't know. By the end, I didn't care. No stars, no thumbs up, wtf did I just read?

SO. Now I am reading David Halberstam's The Coldest Winter, which is about the Korean War. Figured I should learn about the first one before the next one starts. AMIRITE OR AMIRITE LOL :-P

New Guest

Mar. 17th, 2017 04:14 pm
nightdog_barks: (Nancy D.)
... okay, so that tiny wren cave/nest I described on March 5th, and said that I didn't really know if they were using it?

They're using it. There's at least one teeny-tiny egg inside. (One of the wrens and I scared the hell out of each other while I was watering around the lemongrass pot, and so I got our little Fenix flashlight and peeked inside.)

Garden Note

Mar. 9th, 2017 06:13 pm
nightdog_barks: (Tomatoes)
Planted remaining tomatoes, basil, and dill today. Layla attempted to sample the dill, so behind the tomato fencing it went. // facepalm //

Garden Note

Mar. 8th, 2017 04:09 pm
nightdog_barks: (Jalapenos)
Planted the Better Bush, Rutgers Select, and Black Krim tomatoes today, along with the two Tabasco peppers.

Still to plant: Carnival tomatoes, Eleonora basil, Bouquet dill.

Points

Mar. 5th, 2017 06:56 pm
nightdog_barks: 1920s style illustration of a woman reading (Reading modern woman)
1) A very grey and dreary day here with occasional rainy sprinkles. A pair of wrens have built a tiny "cave" inside a thatch of dead lemongrass (in a large pot on a wrought-iron table on the deck) and lined it with dead leaves. I can't tell if they're using it, though -- every now and then I take a peek inside but they're never there and I haven't seen them going in & out lately. From what I've read, wrens build more than one nest and then choose one, so maybe they didn't choose this one. I'll give them some more time.

2) Speaking of birds, here is a gorgeous example of a murmuration of starlings from today (in the UK, on Twitter).

3) Finished Montefiore's Romanov biography and immediately ordered his history of Jerusalem. Two thumbs way up for the Romanov book, strongly recommend, but good god in the end it is so sad. Three hundred years of history coming to a squalid, brutal little end in a dark little cellar -- murder by a group that included at least one drunk and a psychopath, and the whole gang of them couldn't even shoot straight.

4) Watched two silly movies last night -- The Nice Guys, and X-Men: Apocalypse. Did not care that much about either film, but I did laugh out loud for real at the elevator scene in The Nice Guys.

5) Here is a really interesting article from Smithsonian magazine about what happened to the Greenland Vikings. I don't actively look for stories about the Vikings and/or Greenland, but when I see them I read them, because many years ago I saw an article like this, and I immediately thought of an AU historical fic in which House was a Viking put out to pasture, as it were, running a small shore station with a few comrades. I still think about it every now and then. I wrote quite a bit; maybe I should release it as a Fly Free Little WIP. :-)

Five things make a post. :D

More Green

Mar. 3rd, 2017 03:07 pm
nightdog_barks: (Tomatoes)
Yesterday went to Calloway's and bought:

2 Carnival tomato plants
2 Rutgers Select tomato plants
2 Black Krim tomato plants
2 basil plants, Eleonora
2 dill plants, Bouquet

Oddly enough, no Early Girls to be found. Greenhouse was scented with blooming lime and lemon trees.

Have not planted anything yet. Temps in the 40s/50s at night.

In 1905

Mar. 2nd, 2017 06:31 pm
nightdog_barks: Man on a white horse (Passion)
Nikolasha fancied himself as a medieval knight, still keeping a court of dwarfs, and once demonstrating the sharpness of his sword by cutting one of his borzoi dogs in half before appalled guests. Revering "the divine origin of Tsarist power," he believed that the autocrat possessed "some special secret strength through his anointing." If the tsar ordered him to jump out of a window, "I'd do so without hesitation." Minny [Maria Fyodorovna, Tsar Nicholas II's mother] thought him "a good soldier at heart," but she supposedly said, "He suffers from an incurable disease. He's stupid."

~ Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Romanovs: 1613 - 1918, page 526

omg
nightdog_barks: (Green Tree)
It's a warm, overcast day here. It doesn't seem to bother Layla. :D

 photo SAM_0160_zpsmob0wqba.jpg
nightdog_barks: (Tomatoes)
Stopped by Lowe's as part of running errands today and bought two Better Bush Hybrid (determinate) tomato plants and two Tabasco pepper plants.
nightdog_barks: Illustration of a rabbit's head with long ears, facing left (Father Rabbit)
There was a cottontail in our backyard last night. Layla, needless to say, was very excited and wanted to go chase it, but we wouldn't let her (we are very mean). The cottontail could tell it was being watched (by us and the dog), and so it just sat still for a while. Then it relaxed enough to look around, and then enough to forage around in the grass and dirt. Layla eventually got bored and decided to take a nap. :D

Finished a very good book -- Wake, by Anna Hope. The story follows three women -- Ada, Evelyn, and Hettie -- through one week in November, 1920. The Great War has only been over for two years, and its effects are still rippling through their lives. I really enjoyed this short novel and give it two thumbs up. Now reading Simon Sebag Montefiore's new history of the Romanov dynasty, and so far it is excellent.

The weather is still wildly unseasonable -- much too warm, and today we are waiting for rain.
nightdog_barks: (Gingko Leaves)
It started raining last night at around 10:30 or 11, and basically didn't stop until about 40 minutes ago. So that's a good soaking that we really needed.

Finished reading the Steven Jobs biography last night and thought it was terrific, although at times it was genuinely painful when Isaacson would talk about Jobs' acts of selfishness and all-around general assholery. I mean, the man screwed his friends and colleagues out of bonus money and stock options. He treated people like dirt. He parked his Mercedes in handicapped-parking spaces (sometimes he would angle it in so it blocked two spaces) (I am not making this up). AND YET. He was a creative genius. He changed the way we use computers, the way we make phone calls, the way we listen to music. (I'm using the general we here; I don't own any Apple products.) He was a genius, and yet he could be such a shit human being. (Aside: I have Isaacson's bio of Benjamin Franklin on my to-read shelf; I suppose I'll get to that sooner rather than later.)

Also last night was the 10th (and final?) episode of The Young Pope. I've watched all 10, and for me, they were 10 of the best hours of TV I've seen in a long time. I loved this series -- its moments of surreality, its dream-like atmosphere, the beautiful cinematography, the very human protagonists. Two of the episodes (Nine and Ten) reminded me of Magnolia and the way that movie treated the stories of secondary characters. Kudos to The Young Pope, and especially to Jude Law, Silvio Orlando, Javier Cámara, Cécile de France, and, I suppose most of all, to Paolo Sorrentino, the writer/director/creator of this dazzling show. If it was available on a U.S.-compatible DVD set, I would buy it right now.

And I guess that's all I've got. :-)
nightdog_barks: Illustrated close-up of a bird's head grasping a red berry in its beak (Bird with Berry)
The completely ridiculous "winter" weather continues -- it is 81 degrees here right now (27.2 Celsius), and it feels as though it's 83 because the wind is out of the south. We have the back door and windows open, and I've put Layla's bed cover in the wash and the interior bedding outside to air out. If it continues like this (and it's supposed to through at least next week) I'll have to start looking for tomato plants. Which is nuts but whatever.

Finished Rivers of London and ordered the next book in the series, Moon Over Soho. In the meantime I am reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, which so far is a terrific story and very interesting. I have also picked up (but not yet started) The Letters of the Younger Pliny, because I was reading an excerpt somewhere where he wrote to a friend asking if he believed in ghosts and it was just fascinating. :D
nightdog_barks: Retro comic illustration of a woman wearing a futuristic space helmet by W.T. Benda (Rocket Woman)
And it's a warm start to February, although a cold front is actually in the process of moving through. The sun is out and it's been very dry for a while now.

FINALLY finished the first volume of the Hitler bio (second volume isn't out yet), and there was much rejoicing. Thanks to two old friends' strong recommendation, I am now reading Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London and enjoying it thoroughly. :D
nightdog_barks: (Bridge Lion)
Okay, so I know we said there's an Epilogue coming for Solstice. This ... isn't it. But it is a prequel. :D

Title: Distaff Magic
Authors: [personal profile] blackmare and [personal profile] nightdog_barks.
Characters: Wilson, House, an OFC
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: No
Spoilers: None
Summary: The relic's as old as the Pyramids: Instructions not included. It and its long-lost ritual may be better left in the past. But pain, even someone else's, can push a man to take his chances.
Author Notes: This is set in the Diviners 'Verse, the same ficverse as Take the Long Way Home and Solstice, in which House is a Doctor of Divination and things are just a little bit different. This story falls between those two -- it is a sequel to Long Way Home and a prequel to Solstice. Cut text is from the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs), King James Version.
Intrepid Readers: [personal profile] pwcorgigirl

Out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke ...  )
nightdog_barks: (Baby Barnum)
'Saddleworth Man' identified! This is a story I've been following, and I'm glad to see it has at least some resolution -- although it's still a mystery as to why he was there.

Bing Bang

Jan. 24th, 2017 04:59 pm
nightdog_barks: An open mouth in the lower left-hand corner, with a cartoon balloon saying "words words words" floating above it (Words Words Words)
1) Email notifications of LJ comments are very hit and miss right now, mostly miss. >:-P

2) I am happy because (a) we got an ad for a new Indian grocery that's not too far away!, and (b) it is warm today. Warm like spring warm. Wish the sun was out too, but oh well.

3) Received a wedding invitation for April.

4) Watched the fourth episode of The Young Pope last night. Still interested.

5) Today, in the "I'll Take Historical Assholes for $300, Alex" category ...

Among Hitler's skills was his ability to mimic people's gestures and speech. He enjoyed entertaining his entourage by imitating Max Amann, who had lost his left arm and who spoke quickly and repetitively in Bavarian dialect. 'You could just picture Amann shrugging his armless shoulder and frantically waving his right hand,' Christa Schroeder reported.

~ from Hitler: Ascent, 1889 - 1939, Volker Ullrich, page 388

Monday

Jan. 23rd, 2017 03:31 pm
nightdog_barks: (Red Horse)
Omg so tired; have not been sleeping well for weeks. A bit over halfway through Volker Ullrich's Hitler. It's a fascinating read, but I'm having undeniably happy thoughts about picking up something more ... light next. :-P
nightdog_barks: (Hawk Eye)
I have seen a lot of great photos from the marches today. This may be my favorite, from London. Credit to Ami McKay on Twitter for this shot. :D

 photo Women_zpswqt2lzpd.jpg
nightdog_barks: (Skeleton)
 photo 32ca0cb7-f0f3-4fd4-8af7-e8dff55612d4_zpshurvebj3.jpg

Detail, George Frederic Watts' Mammon, 1884-85. Credit Rabih Alameddine, who tweeted this and many other images today.

Profile

nightdog_barks: (Default)nightdog_barks

March 2017

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What I'm Reading Now

Fiction
Sweet Lamb of Heaven, by Lydia Millet

Nonfiction
The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, by David Halberstam

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