The View from Atherton Court, Part VIII

Why This Is A Short Post, In About 550 Words

Hello! This is part eight of my uncharacteristically chatty quarantine series, The View from Atherton Court. And today’s post is going to be comparatively short, for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I generally talk about movies I’ve seen over the past week, and we’ve been breaking our movie-a-day habit lately. We go through the day believing that we will be seeing a movie after dinner, and we solemnly select a movie to watch, but by the time we get settled on the couch it turns out that it is late and we’re tired and we don’t want to commit to something that will take a minimum of an hour and a half.

Last night, for example, we were totally going to watch Space Truckers. We really believed we would do this thing, right up until the moment we sat down. Then we realized that we hated this plan and that we weren’t going to do it. Instead, we watched a short clip of a baby elephant getting rescued from a pit by some people with earth-moving equipment, followed by a 10-minute cooking show, followed by the peaceful oblivion of sleep.

So anyway, one reason this will be a short post is that I don’t really have any movies I’m dying to talk about. We recently re-watched Suspiria (the original 1977 version, not the recent re-make), but all I have to say about it is: watch it. Also, we watched Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (1981), but all I want to say about it is: don’t watch it. Unless you really, really like lingering shots of obviously fake faces being dissolved in acid. Then, I mean, this is the movie for you.

Also, though we’ve had a week that I consider fulfilling, most of the fun we’ve had this week is of the incommunicable sort, the sort that would probably sound really dull to people not in our heads. We spent time discussing the exact definition of “lout,” then looking up its etymology. We’ve had several very long speculative discussions about O’Neill cylinders and what they’d be like to live in. Quiet fun.

But! We have also done some very strenuous wading, which I will tell you about briefly. Last week, I mentioned that we’d started exploring a local stream in chest-waders. This is a fun thing to do, and it is also a good way to keep six feet away from other human beings. Anyway, this week we had two excellent wading adventures, and we’ve seen a lot of the stream that we hadn’t seen before. We found fascinating graffiti in unlikely places. We startled some beavers. Most remarkably of all, we discovered that someone’d moved a picnic table into the stream and covered it in brightly-colored paint. The paint was still wet. On the picnic table, weighed down with some stones, was a photograph of someone dressed as a smurf. This is all true and also not my fault.

Atherton Signs Off

Right. That’s about it, for this week! Have you had any really interesting in-depth discussions lately? Have you discovered things about your neighborhood that you didn’t know before? How are those household projects going?

Stay sane, stay healthy, and say hello in the comments section!

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  1. Hello! Here I am in the comments with no amusing stories to tell — at least not as amusing as your stream-wading tale of the anachronistic picnic table. How deep is the stream you wade in? Are chest-high waders essential for protection, or would thigh-high waders suffice?

    I’m keeping busy sewing (my livelihood), editing other people’s stories for an anthology of weird romance, and editing two of my own works, one prior to receiving feedback and a 10 minute phone call from an executive editor at Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and the other to be included in Rabbit Hole Zero, an anthology due out July 17th.

    No truly interesting conversations, although some of the mundane interactions with my older sister who has moved in with me sometimes wander in to the realm of magical thinking when she attempts to explain Things That Happen. It’s as though she believes physics is optional. Amusing on one level and completely frustrating on another.

    I have begun reading several books, the most likely to be finished first is Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants. The Silent Patient, on the other hand, supposedly a thrilling page-turner by Alex Michaelides, is taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I read it only while I’m at the laundromat — waiting — once every other Tuesday, which goes a long way toward explaining its longevity on my shelf. But it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just too easy to walk away from to be a real thriller.

    I’m re-watching the first two seasons of Medici on Netflix because Season 3 is out and it’s been, I don’t know — 2 years since I saw the last episode of Season 2? High quality and absorbing, like a good paper towel, but more entertaining.

    Life in a nutty shell.

    I look forward to your next post.

    • Hello Sue! That is a good question about the chest waders. Most of the time, boots would be sufficient. But! There are places where the chest waders are necessary. Deep pools, you know, with no good way around.
      Your work sounds exciting. What are you sewing? And tell me more about weird romance. Also, huzzah! Awesome feedback source, and great about the anthology. I will have to order a copy!
      I, too, have been reading a lot lately. Mostly mysteries and horror, but other things also. I haven’t been bowled over by anything I’ve read just lately, though, so I haven’t included much about my reading in my posts.
      I haven’t seen Medici–is it good?

      • Deep pools sound treacherous. Are people ever Lost Forever having taken an unfortunate step? Do be careful! Sewing isn’t nearly so dangerous — true, I have sewn through a fingernail and the attached finger with no clear idea how that happened, but normally it is a very detailed and deliberate pursuit. My latest major project was designing and constructing a Woodland Elf outfit for a young woman who was to be the Best Man at an April wedding that had t be postponed. The Elf, costume however, was completed on time — a blend of Medieval and Steam Punk. Fun Stuff!

        The weird romance is Volume 3 of the Rabbit Hole collection of anthologies. The main theme each year is “weird” with some other noun, such as “journey” or “science” or “weather”. This year, the founder — a British mystery author, residing in Provence, France — decided to designate a genre instead, and Romance is the most widely read genre, so Romance it was. I was honored to be the first woman invited to serve as one of four editors, first to help select the stories to be included, and then to take responsibility for editing five of them. The first process was lengthy and eye-opening. The second, working with the authors, has been deeply rewarding. I’ve discovered a heretofore unknown passion for developmental editing. (My story for the Rabbit Hole Zero anthology, also semi=finalled in last year’s ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Contest.)

        My manuscript consultation involves a children’s story. It’s evolved significantly from the first draft, and has been through at least a dozen critique rounds, so even if Beach Lane’s executive editor doesn’t wish to publish it, I’ll still receive some high quality feedback.

        Medici has all the intrigue and betrayal, love and wealth, and dreams for the Republic of Florence that one would expect of the historical Medicis, but a disclaimer on the series says the drama is totally fictional. So if you enjoy a high-quality production depicting fictional history, you’ll like this one.

        • I am thoroughly fascinated by this Woodland Elf costume. It sounds splendid.
          That sounds like a lot of interesting work, the Rabbit Hole anthology. You got to help pick the stories, eh? Was that challenging? I imagine it must be. I mean, many of the stories would be easily discarded (the just-terrible ones and the ones that utterly ignore the theme), but there must be others that are trickier. Anyway, not a job I’d want to have to do.
          Developmental editing is a phrase that interests me. Do you mean that many of the pieces you accepted needed several more drafts before they were really ready?
          I don’t know about this contest, but huzzah! That sounds great! Your story was very cinematic, eh? That sounds fun.
          Good luck with the children’s story!

  2. Some of the more interesting conversations in our household recently have included
    – the rocky history of sliced bread (and how my father-in-law is older than it)
    – the utter desperation lingerie designers must feel upon being expected to come up with something new
    -the relative merits of a tail vs large ears
    – brains that carry on a constant internal monologue, contrasted with brains that are capable of “not thinking about anything”
    I have been reading mostly mysteries recently, and have been unimpressed with several newer cozies, but enjoying Innes, whom somehow I never seem to have read during my much more intense golden-age-mystery period some 20-25 years ago.
    I hope that you either did not get any wet paint on your waders, OR that you got just the right amount of paint on your waders to make them look cool and artsy. In either case, it seems to me an ill-considered move to put anything into running water before its paint is dry, assuming, of course, that you did in fact wish for the paint to remain on the object.

    • EEEEKKK!! Yippee!!!!! Michael Innes is my favorite author, possibly of all time. By that I mean that I re-read his books more often than anyone else’s, and that I have memorized quite long passages from several of them, by accident, because I have read them that often. Or, rather, in most cases, because I have listened to them that often, because the audiobooks read by Matt Addis are amazing.
      I have so much to say on the subject of Innes that I think I just short-circuited when I read your comment. Which ones have you read, so far, and what did you think of them? Have you a favorite? My favorite Innes (and possibly my all-time-favorite book) is Appleby’s End.
      Do you like Thomas Love Peacock? Have you ever read him? Innes is clearly a Peacock fanboy (he often references his work), and Alec and I think that Peacock’s mad table-talk style was probably a big influence on Innes’ eccentric conversationalists.
      Have you read Edmund Crispin? Now, he’s a clear Innes fanboy (and therefore has excellent taste). Also, I mean, he’s amazingly fun.
      Are you reading Innes in any kind of order? I didn’t, and I don’t think the order matters much with him.
      Have you read any non-Appleby Innes? Some of them are very good; some less so. The Journeying Boy is really fun.

      I also like your conversational topics. I especially like the lingerie one, because yes. That must be difficult for them.

      We didn’t get any wet paint on our waders, because we didn’t sit down. Perhaps we feared a trap? And you are right about it being perhaps ill-considered to put the bench into the stream before the paint was dry, but! Most of the paint was in fact well above the water line. Also, I really don’t know how much careful planning went into this utterly mad piece of… installation art? I don’t even know.

      • I thought you’d be pleased. =)
        I have dutifully begun with “Death at the President’s Lodging,” (having learned from my mistake of first reading Sayers out of order. Sayers holds the place for me that Innes does for you.) That’s as far as I’ve gotten, due to the difficulty of procuring books. I had to spring for purchasing the first two, of which the second has not yet arrived, and I will be able to get the third from the library, but not until it reopens for curbside pick-up in June, and we’ll take it from there… Appleby himself has not yet become fully-rounded for me, but I very much enjoy a world in which people are intelligent, witty, and (at least in the case of Our Heroes) rational, all narrated by a writer who is also intelligent, witty, and rational.
        I do also have a variety of other things to read, including some other mysteries, and some middle grade fantasy. I will look for Peacock and Crispin. (Oddly enough, I do also have some non-reading duties, some of which have been pleasant, such as the commission for artwork, and the games with my Dear Family, and some of which have been less pleasant, such as the housework, and taking a load of trash and recycling to the dump.)

        • I am more than pleased! I am thrilled. But I really mean it about the order of the books barely mattering. I made the same mistake with Sayers myself, by the way, and so I get why you would approach the Appleby stuff with caution. But–look, I don’t want to say that it doesn’t matter at all, but I will say that, with the Appleby stuff, the order matters surprisingly little. Appleby’s End marks a big change in the series, though, so, if you wanted to, you could read all the pre-Appleby’s End books first, in whatever order, then read Appleby’s End, then all the post-Appleby’s End books.

          Death at the President’s Lodging is fun, but it is sort of obviously Innes’ first whack at the series. The tone is under development in this one, and he seems to be more undergraduate than don, as a writer, here. Anyway, still fun, and worth reading.

          A couple of further notes about some of the pre-Appleby’s End books:

          Don’t let Lament For A Maker frighten you off the series. There is, if I recall correctly, a lot of Scottish dialect in it, which some people report having trouble with. Anyway, it is a good book, but can always be skipped if you find it too slow.

          The Secret Vanguard is, if I recall correctly, barely an Appleby book at all. It is a spy story in the mode of The 39 Steps. So, if you like 39-Steps-ish stories, read it! Otherwise, you can probably skip it.

          Appleby on Ararat and The Daffodil Affair are WWII adventure stories. They are fun, but Appleby on Ararat doesn’t even pretend to be a detective story, and The Daffodil Affair quickly stops being one. This is, in my opinion, fine, and the stories are absolutely wild and dream-like. If you wanted to read only one of these two, I’d read The Daffodil Affair.

          The Weight of the Evidence is okay, but not my favorite by a long way. Can be skipped.
          Stop Press is fabulous. Do not skip!
          Hamlet, Revenge! is very good.
          I like There Came Both Mist and Snow. It is slower than some, but I think the atmosphere that is slowly built up throughout the story is excellent.

          Right. I am surprised at how many I have just advised you to skip. I think the main thing here is that each Appleby book is sort of wildly itself.

          Um. So if you wanted to tell me what you think of the other Appleby books as you read them, I’d be super-thrilled to hear from you.

          What games have you been playing with your family?
          Huzzah! Artwork commission! This is great!

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