A Phryne Fisher Open Thread

I told you I’d tell you which cozy mystery series has recently captured my attention. Not that this particular series is recent, of course; the Phryne Fisher books began publishing in 1989 and the television series (which I watched on Netflix a few years ago) premiered in 2012.

But I was searching the internet for “murder mysteries set in big old houses that aren’t by Agatha Christie,” which does in fact yield a relevant search result on a cozy mystery blog, and that blog post’s mention of the Murder She Wrote tie-in novels (two of which I gave to my brother-in-law this past Christmas, since he is a huge Jessica Fletcher fan) reminded me that in Phryne Fisher’s case, the books came before the television series—and I hadn’t read any of them.

Now I’ve read the first six and am halfway through number seven. The library has ’em all on ebook, and every time I get to the end of one book it’s both easy and irresistible to return it and check out the next one (in other words, if you’re curious whether the Netflix binge-episode model works just as well for books, YES IT DOES).

What I love about these books is the long game going on between all of the murders. Although you could theoretically read the books out of order, or start with the third one or whatever, author Kerry Greenwood sets up this delightful slow-build character development in which, for example, characters reflect on decisions they made two books ago and use that self-understanding to make a different decision this time around.

Which is also why we all loved the television series, right? We wanted to see people grow and change and learn and begin to trust each other and so on.

(We also wanted to see all the clothes, which are just as lavishly presented in the novels.)

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been reading lately and I wanted to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying it. The thread is open—have a good weekend! ❤️

Friday Open Thread

This is one of those days where it’s hard to be all “Friday FriYAY” because, like, have you been reading the news?

I keep reminding myself that my locus of control is limited, and that I should do what I can to help people in need (today I called my representatives and asked them to do their part to improve the treatment of people in border detention camps) and then, well… it’s like this combination of not dwelling on it while not forgetting about it and not becoming desensitized to it.

Which is an easier plan of action when I’m worried about something like the threat of nuclear war. The thought pattern in that case goes:

Are we in a nuclear war right now? NO.

Is there anything you can do to prevent a nuclear war? NO. (UNLESS YOU COUNT VOTING, WHICH ISN’T AN OPTION IN THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE.)

In that case, what is the best use of your time? LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST, TO BORROW A CLICHE.

When I’m thinking about the abuse of individuals and families in U.S. detention centers, on the other hand, it’s more like:

Are people being abused in detention camps right now? YES, ACCORDING TO ALL AVAILABLE EVIDENCE.

Is there anything you can do to prevent or stop this abuse? NOT DIRECTLY. (VOTING IS STILL NOT AN OPTION AT PRESENT.)

In that case, what is the best use of your time? UM… I CALLED MY REPRESENTATIVES AND WROTE A “HOW TO PROTEST HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES” POST FOR LIFEHACKER, SO… I MEAN, DO YOU JUST GO BACK TO “LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST” AFTER THAT? NOT REALLY. BUT ALSO MAYBE. I’M STILL GOING TO WRITE MY 1000 WORDS TODAY, AFTER ALL.

So that’s what I’m thinking about today.

The thread is open. ❤️

Friday Open Thread

Time to discuss anything you want!

I’ll start off with this: I was at the library the other day, looking for Jennifer Weiner books (since she’s visiting Cedar Rapids in June), and I saw a copy of The Princess Bride in a featured display—so of course I grabbed it.

And of course I’ve read it before, but it was when I was, like, twelve. I remember it included the scariest scene in any book I’d ever read (it involves a spider, and it’s not in the movie) and I have this mental image of me sitting on my bed—which is how I know this took place when I was twelve and not fourteen, because my bed was still next to the window at the time—and literally tossing the school library copy away from me because I did not want to turn the page and keep reading.

And then of course I did.

(And then I was too keyed up to go to sleep, which is what I was supposed to be doing all along.)

Well. It turns out that the scene in question isn’t that scary anymore, at least not from my 37-year-old perspective, and it’s also a lot shorter than I remember it being.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been scared by a book in a long time. That might be one of the privileges of youth (also, these days I tend to read fewer books that include full-page illustrations of young girls with spiders crawling out of their faces*).

But it was also kinda fun to throw the book away from me—like, on my bed, I knew it wasn’t going to get damaged or anything—and then decide to steel my nerves and pick it up again. ❤️

*If you don’t recognize what book I’m referencing by that description alone, it’s… not The Princess Bride. But it also includes some horrifying spiders.

Friday Open Thread

It’s Friday, so let’s THREAD IT UP.

Today, I’m thinking about how the best things you made in the past still get to be part of your present.

Like… nine years ago (almost to the day) I set myself the goal of writing or covering a song a week because I wanted to be like Jonathan Coulton.

Then I spent a couple of years performing those songs up and down both the East and the West Coasts, at various comic conventions and house concerts and JoCo Shadow Cruises.*

A lot of those songs were just okay, and many of them were made better by my performance (which is to say that if you’re able to make an audience laugh, you can cover at least some of your creative shortcomings).

But a few were pretty good.

And I’m going to get to sing one of the best ones at a jazz concert next Friday.

(I’m also going to cut the last repeat of the chorus, where I make the Firefly joke, because Joss Whedon’s Firefly isn’t as culturally relevant as it was in 2012.)

Anyway, what I mean to say is that even as we get older and our identities change, the best stuff from our past doesn’t have to go away.

We can still keep it, and share it with people. ❤️

*So… Jonathan Coulton has an annual cruise called the JoCo Cruise, and cruise attendees create their own slate of performances/events/etc. to accompany the official performances/events/etc., called the Shadow Cruise. I got to be part of many Shadow Cruises.

Friday Open Thread

Happy Friday! Happy Open Thread!

The NEXT BOOK draft is currently at 28,594 words.

I get to perform the Brahms Requiem this weekend.

I am tired, but it isn’t the physical/emotional/mental exhaustion that comes with putting long hours towards stuff you don’t want.

It’s more like “tired but happy.” ❤️

How about you?

Friday Open Thread

Today’s open thread is brought to you by an absolutely gorgeous day that I can’t wait to go outside and enjoy.

I’m also probably going to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day today instead of tomorrow, because it’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow and the temperature is scheduled to drop back down into the 40s.

So… today I buy the books, and tomorrow I read them.*

How about you? What’s on your mind this Friday? ❤️

*JUST KIDDING I am totally going to start reading the books tonight.

Friday Open Thread

Or Good Friday open thread, if you prefer.

Today, I suggest reading Tara K. Shepersky’s thoughts on Good Friday, which are appropriate regardless of your current faith. I spent last weekend performing with Chorale Midwest in an absolutely beautiful Catholic church, surrounded by stained-glass saints and Stations of the Cross, and it made me think about all of the stories we tell and the rituals we perform to acknowledge the changing of the seasons (and the way our own lives change over time).

I’ll be honest: as a person who stopped attending services after spending five years as a church organist, it also made me think “I wish Christianity was mostly about people getting together to discuss how to live and having regular celebrations based on a shared narrative, because I would be down for that.”

The trouble is that so many of those discussions devolve into xenophobia and homophobia and arguments about whether guitars are appropriate in church (which is really just an extension of the old “but what if we didn’t always speak in Latin” argument), and it quickly becomes less about discussing how to live and more about bickering over the details.

Anyway. This is an open thread, which means it’s time for me to stop going on and on and let you share what’s on your mind. ❤️

Friday Open Thread

It’s Open Thread time!

I’ll start: last night, I finished watching Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 3 “Oathbreaker,” which means I only have fourteen episodes left before I’m fully caught up.

I know that I could watch those fourteen episodes before the Season 8 premiere on Sunday.

I am choosing not to.

Instead, I’m going to spread them out over the next ten days, so I’ll be all caught up by the second episode of Season 8.

Because I cannot do five hours of television a day any more. That’s just too much TV, y’all. I’m expecting Oompa-Loompas to show up in my apartment at any moment.

(Also, I have a choir concert at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, so I wouldn’t be able to watch the premiere with the rest of the world regardless.)

Anyway, that’s what I decided last night and I already feel like an Iron-Throne-sized weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

How about you? ❤️