Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sunday Snapshot for the Start of Fall

chaco canyon

Welcome to the first weekend of fall. I know a lot of people enjoy this time of year, but I hate it. Seasonal depression will do that to a person. Nevertheless, since my last post was at the start of summer, I thought it was a good time for an update.

Currently Reading:

Totally Folked by Penny Reid: A fun, fast read. I might actually be able to finish this book in a weekend!

Your Money or Life by Vicki Robin: Am I going to calculate every cent I've made in my entire life? No. No way.

Recent Memorable Reads:

The Cellist by Daniel Silva: Another excellent and super-relevant read from Silva.

The Drops of God, Vols. 1-44 by Tadashi Agi: Getting through this manga was my summer project. The last few volumes were MUCHO depressing and then they didn't even find the drops of god by the end!


Such a dad movie. In fact, my dad actually watched it with me. An excellent, well-made film well worth the cost of a rental.

If you liked Ford v Ferrari, why not watch the legendary Steve McQ in action at Le Mans?! This is the type of movie where no one speaks for the first 20 minutes and the rest of the movie is basically just race cars going around and around. Plus the '70s hair is doing McQueen no favors. But it was cool to see the actual Le Mans in action.

Not a fan. There was absolutely no effort to make this movie cinematic. Just film it on a stage and be done with it.

Highly recommend this movie! Nicole Kidman is the headmistress of a girl's school in the south during the Civil War. When her students discover a Union soldier on the edge of death, she agrees to take him in and nurse him back to health. The soldier thinks he's a rooster who's landed in a hen house, but he's in for an unpleasant awakening in that regard.

Proposed alternate title: Life's a Beach and Then You Die

I think this movie scarred my parents for life. It's based on a twitter thread about a stripper who goes down to FL with another stripper she's just met to make a few bucks pole dancing. She quickly realizes her traveling companions are not the greatest.

The twitter thread is better.

This movie takes itself WAY too seriously. The costumes are gorge, though. Does anyone know where I can get a scarf with bells on it?

This is another movie that would have probably scarred my parents for life, if they had seen it. It's about a teenager - we're talking like 14, 15 - who's lured into joining a group of traveling magazine salespeople and then proceeds to get into one dicey situation after another. It sounds like it might be a downer, or preachy, but it's neither. I wouldn't call it uplifting, but it is well worth the watch.

An excellent film that reminded me of a young person's Nomadland.

Normally Cinderella stories are my jam, but this one's BAD. BAAAAD BAD BAAAAAAAAAAD. The worst Cinderella film I've ever seen by far.

Terrible title, surprisingly decent movie! In the 1960s, Jennifer Stirling finds a letter from a lover she can't remember, because amnesia. Who was he and what happened to him?! In modern tymes, Ellie Haworth is researching her magazine's first female editor and comes across the same letter, and has the same questions. The script and storytelling were excellent, with a lot of narrative tension. The ending was little on the lame side, but eh.

Another surprisingly decent movie. I spent most of it worrying about the dog.

These weeks in heidenkindom:

Lots of things are changing in the wake of COVID-19. People are moving, breaking up, quitting jobs. In my department at the university, we're staffed at 60% and two people are going on maternity leave in November. 😬 But on the plus side, we've finally filled my old position that's been vacant since June of 2020, so that takes some of the pressure off.

My brother also moved to another state. But before he left, we went on a mini-road trip together to Chaco Canyon, one of the least-visited National Parks in the US. That's because it's a pain to get to! It's the center of an ancient pueblo culture that existed throughout the Four Corners area, and it's a place I've wanted to visit for years. I was pretty excited!

Chaco Canyon from a distance.

Hungo Pavi

Pueblo Bonito, the largest of the "houses"

Windows like this shine light in specific alcoves to mark the movement of the sun.

The "road."

Pueblo del Arroyo

It's hard to see, but there's a rock outcropping on the mesa in the distance that casts a shadow in the points of a spiral below during solstices.

So that was pretty cool! Chaco Canyon would be an awesome place to camp, if I was into that sort of thing. But I'm not.

Other than that, not much has been going on. The fam has been happy and healthy and we're hanging in there.

What's been going on in your neck of the woods?

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Review: Gawain and the Green Knight

the hunt in the forest by paolo ucello
The Hunt in the Forest by Paolo Uccello, c. 1470


Gather all and put much thought 
to a tale of noble Camelot.
On New Year’s Eve the court did gather 
With wine and beer and much blather
Ladies fair and knights bold 
Plus Gweneviere and Arthur, we are told 
When all at once, what should they see 
But a walking, talking Christmas tree! 

(Actually it’s a man) 

Yes, ’twas a man, but green 
hair green, skin green, tongue green
Of great stature and much mass
Even his horse was the color of grass
Everything green, but eyes that were red
Even an idiot could guess where this led
But not Arthur and his patriotic knights
Who thought the green man rather nice

(How stupid are they?)

The Christmas Tree spoke, and offered a game
To anyone brave enough to issue his name
Strike a blow against the green man, and when the time came
A year from the next day, the green man would do the same.
What’s in it for the knights, one might wonder
But Sir Gawain this did not ponder.
He accepted the ax, and the green man knelt
Then to his neck, a fatal blow Wawain dealt.

(He chopped the Christmas Tree’s head off)

The head rolled about, the court watching whence it should land
Dismissing the Green Man, and thinking the matter at an end
Green blood spurted out from the tree
And Gawain anticipated congratulations there’d be
But the Christmas Tree rose from where he sat
And calmly collected his body’s hat
Holding his head, he told Gawain the way to his home
To meet a year from then, and to come alone

After which, he left.


Despite that Gawain was not too bright,
Even he knew to do what was right
Honor and chivalry demanded
He meet the Christmas Tree and be beheaded
Thus he set out in the morning
Uncertain about where he was going
A year later, and with much apprehension
For a view of reaching the Green Man’s mansion

(Which I’m guessing is in a forest)

But alas our knight knew not left from right
(re: none too bright)
Far and wide our hero did bumble
Searching for Green Man’s Green Chapel.
He was cold, and hungry, and sad to boot
When what should he spy: a moat!
Connected to a grand castle with turrets and flags
And the friendliest host Gawain’d ever had.

(Almost TOO friendly.)

The man himself was handsome and wealthy
With two others in residence: an old woman quite stealthy,
And a wife so beautiful she left Gawain nonplussed;
They took one look at each other and fell into lust.
Then with Gawain, a bargain the host assayed
That he would go hunting during the day
Upon his return, his catch he would giveth
And Gawain his daily claims would returneth.

(Sounds like another sketchy deal to me.)

But Gawain, like an idiot, pronounced his agreement
And into more trouble our hero descendeth.
But I shall say no more of Wawain’s toil
For fear that his tale I will spoil
At first I thought this story difficult to read
I did not comprehend the why of the characters’ deeds
But then Gawain met the lady, sorely tempting
And things got MUCH more entertaining.

(But who doesn’t like a little romance, right?)

Tis clear that this tale is all about pursuit:
of animals, women, and bravery to salute.
For while the host was hunting game,
The hostess was chasing down Gawain
Quite a dilemma for him to be thinking about
But of course not much thinking is done by that clout
Still, there’s a twist that I thought was grand
For in everything, a famous woman has a hand.

Highly recommended!

Originally posted at Medieval Bookworm in 2010. So long ago!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sunday Snapshot for the Start of Summer

Oglethorpe Square in Savannah
Oglethorpe Square in Savannah, Georgia

Hello, friends! It's almost officially summer, which means we made through one whole pandemic winter. It feels like things are starting to get back to normal, whatever that means. In fact, this past week I went on my first trip in over a year to Savannah, Georgia. But more about that later.

Currently reading:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt: Naturally I had to reread the book that inspired my trip to Savannah in the first place! I first read this when I was quite young, and it's interesting the things you remember from books when you read them at a certain age. For example, I remembered Joe Odom's advice to, "Always stick around for one more drink. That’s when things happen. That’s when you find out what you need to know," like I had read it yesterday.

I'm not saying I have followed this advice religiously, but I'm also not NOT saying I did.

Drops of God, vol. 6, by Tadashi Agi: Comixology released more volumes of this manga series I love on Prime. Perfect airplane reading (truly).

Savannah: A compact little guidebook to Savannah I picked up in a bookstore there. It's pretty good.

Movies Recently Watched:

operation varsity blues

Operation Varsity Blues, directed by Chris Smith

This documentary about the 2019 college admissions scandal where a bunch of rich people paid a guy named Rick Singer (who is STILL walking around free, btw) to get their kids into college is definitely relevant to my interests. If you don't have a vested interest in college admissions, though, it's probably skippable.

this is a robbery poster

This is a Robbery: The World's Greatest Art Heist, directed by Colin Barnicle

Another documentary relevant to my interests. I found it pretty fascinating, but I didn't know all the ins and outs of the robbery and the connections to organized crime.

Conclusion: these paintings will never be found! Or if they are, it will be a total accident and not the result of the FBI investigation at all.

Shout out to A. Ryan McGuigan for seeming like a decent guy despite the fact that 1. he's a lawyer, and 2. he represents low-level criminals.

the invitation poster

The Invitation, starring Logan Marshall-Green and Tammy Blanchard

I had high hopes for this one, but it was just okay. There was zero character development and the narrative tension fizzled out pretty early. Instead of wrapping things up, the "twist" at the end just highlighted the weaknesses in the script. The Cabin is a similar story that's way more effective, in my opinion.

the woman in the window

The Woman in the Window, starring Amy Adams

Another movie I felt like had a lot of potential but fell short. There was a ton going on in the script, but it never came together to effectively create a feeling of paranoia or suspense. The ending was a downer. But Amy Adams did crush it, as usual.

These weeks in heidenkindom:

I got my second vaccine early this month, and almost immediately started planning a trip to Savannah ("Savannah, Georgia?" Yes, Savannah, Georgia). That was the next place I was planning to visit after Bisbee in 2020. Obviously that didn't happen. Until now! Ticket prices were decent and it all seemed to fall into place. Here are some more pics:

River Street

Where the action is!


Savannah's famous for its 22 squares, four of which date to the city's founding as an English colony.

Savannah at Night

Bonaventure Cemetery

A cemetery famous for its 19th-century statuary. John Muir once camped there for several days.

The grave of Gracie Watson is the most visited in the cemetery. It's traditional to leave her toys and coins as gifts.

The famous Bird Girl statue that was on the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, now housed in the Telfair Museum of Art

The Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist

Famous Houses of Savannah

The Williams-Mercer House, former residence of Jim Williams, featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

The Telfair Museum of Art, former residence of Mary Telfair and home to the first public art museum in the South.

This isn't a house per se - it's a famous restaurant called The Olde Pink House. Amazing food! Highly recommend!

The Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters, now part of the Telfair Museums.

Andrew Low House, former residence of the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low.

As you can tell, Savannah is a beautiful city full of history, art, wonderful food, and ghosts! Supposedly. I didn't see any.

This was a really wonderful and far overdue trip. And as a bonus, I was upgraded to first class on the flight home!

Do you have any plans for the summer? Any places you're planning to travel because you read about them in a book?

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Spring Into Sunday Snapshot

the broadmoor

It's spring! We made it! While spring in the Rockies can be volatile, I'm happy the days are getting longer and I have the occasional opportunity to work outside.

Currently Reading:


Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

After watching the movie, I was curious what the book covers and how. I'm glad I watched the movie first because otherwise I probably wouldn't have made it very far into the book. It is a good book, it's just kind of a bummer.

the royal bodyguard

The Royal Bodyguard by Lindsay Emory

I actually listened to this on audio in February. Then I read the previous book in this series, The Runaway Royal, and enjoyed it so much I decided to reread the sequel immediately afterward. There's a lot going on in this one and not all of it comes together or makes sense, but if royal romances are your jam it's worth checking out.

Movies Recently Watched:

minari poster

Minari, starring Youn Yuh-jung, Han Ye-ri, and Steven Yeun

I didn't get as emotionally invested in this movie as a lot of other people, but it is really good and worth watching. Gorgeous cinematography and a quiet, heartfelt story about family and perseverance.

nomadland poster

Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand

The best movie I've seen in a LONG time. At first you think it's going to be about socio-economics; then it turns into a modern-day western with metaphors about freedom and discovering the landscape of America. Finally, at the very end it touches upon the meaning of life and death. Highly recommended!

wandavision poster

WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany

Technically not a movie, BUT OMG YOU GUYS THIS SERIES. I'm not usually a fan of the whole Marvel Comic Universe thing (why do I have to watch Winter Soldier to understand what's going on with Agents of SHIELD, huh?), but I am a fan of Paul Bettany, so I decided to give it a try. First they pull you in with the charming romantic comedy and the next thing you know, you're sobbing over an episode of Dick Van Dyke! Soooo so good. I haven't binge watched a series this hard since Scandal.

i care a lot poster

I Care a Lot, starring Rosamund Pike

The message got pretty muddled there toward the end, but it's Rosamund Pike being a badass, soooo. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Also why does everything have to include gangsters.

the dig

The Dig, starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes

My big takeaway from this film? Archaeology is not worth it. So much mud.

These weeks in heidenkindom:

I haven't gotten the vaccine yet; I'm not even on a list to get the vaccine yet. But my parents have their second shot scheduled for this Monday, so there's progress being made.

Despite not having the vaccine yet, in February I decided I needed to take a staycation and get some physical separation from home for my own mental health. As much as being home and not working is nice, when you're home there's always projects and to-dos that need attention. What I really needed was a few days of forced inactivity and some new scenery to get a refresh.

To that end, I spent three nights at a resort less than an hour away from my home. It wasn't really my scene – picture a lot of retirees – but the weather was gorgeous so I could walk around the grounds, go to the zoo, and sit outside and write and read. It was definitely the break I needed.

A few pics:

broadmoor entrance
Hotel entrance


The terrace café

The zoo is famous for its herd of giraffes

Sitting outside in the sun

The only major bummer was that only 2 of their restaurants were open for dinner, there was no live entertainment, and lunch options were basically a take-away café (which actually had pretty good options, but still). But overall it was a nice break.

I'm also still WFH 100%, although we CAN go onto campus if we want to, as long as we keep capacity at 25%. I may go onto campus sometime soon just to remind myself how much I hate the drive.

That's the main things that have been going on here! What's been happening in your neck of the woods?

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

First Sunday Snapshot of 2021

sofie with a bunny
Sofie with a bunny

Happy 2021 everyone! Although the start of this year has been pretty rough, to put it mildly. But luckily we still have the blogs.

Currently reading:

the secret chapter

The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman: Another book the Invisible Library series. Tbh it's taking me forever to read, but that's not unusual.

the depth of winter

Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson: I'll be honest, when Cady was kidnapped by the cartel at the end of The Western Star, I rolled my eyes HARD. But the setting of this book (Mexico) is actually working out pretty well.


promising young woman poster

Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan

I HIGHLY recommend this movie. It's a revenge tale about woman whose hobby is going to bars and pretending to be falling-down drunk. Inevitably some guy offers to "help get her home" but winds up taking her back to his place and trying to sleep with her instead. The end game isn't what you think. Unlike the typical revenge movie, this one is smart, snarky, with a genuine emotional core. And the more I think about it, the more I consider it reflective of our current times. All Cassie (played by Carey Mulligan who knocks it out of the park, as usual) wants is for people to acknowledge the reality of what happened, something that proves surprisingly–or maybe just depressingly–difficult.

another round poster

Another Round, starring Mads Mikkelsen

Four high school teachers decide to drink constantly in order to keep their blood alcohol level at .5%, "But only during working hours, like Hemingway." What could go wrong?!

This isn't a movie about drinking so much as about mid-life crises and depression. Mads Mikkelsen's character, Martin, is so checked out at the beginning of the film his students stage an intervention. Then through drinking he rediscovers the energy and carefree fun of youth. Of course, there is a downside to this Jekyll/Hyde transformation, which the movie covers. But more ambiguously than you might expect.

Worth watching.

mulan poster

Mulan, starring Yifei Liu

I normally avoid Disney's live action remakes, because why ruin my childhood with this unnecessary nonsense (actually, that's not true, I've SEEN all of them, I just went into it with a certain attitude that I'm sure you can surmise). But with Mulan I was actually like, "Okay, this might be good," because 1. the cartoon didn't have magic or singing mice; and 2. I wasn't really into the original anyway.

Whelp, I was wrong, Disney continues to ruin my childhood. First of all, removing the music was a terrible choice. Even my brother was like, "The hell." Secondly, why would you make a live action remake that's less historically accurate than the cartoon it was based on? Idk people, it just felt like the heart of the original film was ripped out.

the prom poster

The Prom, starring Meryl Streep and James Corden

"But would it play in Peoria?" Answer: No.

The problem with this musical is you go into it thinking it’s going to be about a high school student, but it winds up being about a bunch of uninteresting Broadway actors nobody cares about. And then Auntie Mame, or whoever Meryl Streep is channeling in this role, gives up her career for a high school principal, which doesn’t make a lick of sense.

And yes, James Corden is as annoying in this film as everyone says. The American accent is not great.

This year in heidenkindom:

this is without a doubt the shittiest production of les mis I have ever seen

Well, 2021 is off to... a start. Only 3 more days. Fingers crossed.

The holidays were actually pretty nice. I was worried with the pandemic Christmas would be a total bummer, but it turned out to be cozy and less stressful than usual. We had our office Christmas party over Zoom and it was a definite improvement because 1. It lasted EXACTLY one hour; 2. I didn't have to pay for a meal at a restaurant I never wanted to go to in the first place; and 3. I didn't have to wrap a stupid white elephant present. Yay!

I also had two whole weeks off from the university, which provided a mental break I definitely needed. Maybe not enough of a mental break, but a break.

As for my 2021 goals, I have an appointment to look at a condo tomorrow. The HOA fees seem pretty high, they don't allow dogs (this could be a deal breaker tbh), and I kinda had my heart set on a house, but I do want to start looking at places to see what my options are.

That's all the news that's fit to print for January so far. How has your New Year been going?


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