Life round-up: February – March 2014

In February I celebrated my birthday. Then I spent the rest of the month being ill with a chest infection. March was emotionally intense, but it ended well with a visit to London that included meeting up with wonderful twitter friends.


My favourite books were Patricia Highsmith’s novel Carol (1952) and Christopher Bram’s non-fiction work, Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers who Changed America. Carol is a wonderful lesbian novel, noirish, romantic, suspenseful and ultimately uncompromising.  I loved Eminent Outlaws and really want to write about it at length. I hung onto it until the library demanded it back, but I just couldn’t articulate my thoughts. At some point there may be a post about not being able to write about Eminent Outlaws.

I finished Shoggoths in Bloom (2012), Elizabeth Bear’s excellent collection of science fiction and fantasy stories, which also has one of the most beautiful covers in my library.  I’ll try and write about it properly one of these days. I really enjoyed Kage Baker’s, Sky Coyote (1999) (birthday present), the second in her Company series. I found Lois McMaster Bujold’s Shards of Honour (1988) very entertaining, even if it did slip up with a bit of homophobia.

I read a couple of other non-fiction books. There was Richard Wrangham’s Catching Fire: How Cooking made us Human (2009) which was interesting, but not as good as I expected.  Then there was Whose Word is it?: The Story Behind Who Changed the New Testament and Why (2006) By Bart D. Ehrman, which explores what we know about the production of The New Testament. I found this fascinating and very helpful for my own process of re-assessing the kind of Christianity I was raised in.

I got about halfway through Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars, but gave up. I failed to heed @infamy_infamy’s warning about all the gruesome body stuff and the constant joking started to get on my nerves after a while.


There’ll be a spring music post along sometime soon.  In the meantime, according to, I have been listening to Throwing Muses, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Anais Mitchell, Thea Gilmore, Uh Huh Her, Massive Attack, Sigur Ros, Richard Hawley, Aimee Mann, Janelle Monae, Stevie Nicks and Britney Spears. If I had to pick tracks to represent the last couple of months, I’d say it goes Lissie’s pop anthem, ‘The Habit’, and ‘Rewind the Film’ by The Manic Street Preachers (featuring Richard Hawley).

I got Santigold’s Master of my Make Believe and Anna Calvi’s One Breath for my birthday.


We re-watched Star Trek, Nemesis.  It’s fun, but feels like a missed opportunity. I think it would have been much better if Patrick Stewart had played his own clone. Can you imagine how much fun he could have had with that?  We also watched The Wizard of Oz which, believe it or not, I had never seen all the way through.  I thought Andy was kidding when she said she knew all the words, but no.


Andy finally converted me to Poirot, but the most exciting drama I’ve watched recently has been provided by re-runs of Cagney and Lacey. Women represented as people! Actual people! With facets and contradictions and flaws and their own independent subjectivities! I remember that my Mum disapproved of the show’s feminism, but she watched it anyway.

We watched a lot of good documentaries. Let’s start with the sciency ones.  I got through the whole of The Planets DVD set which I got for Christmas.  Horizon’s ‘Swallowed by a Sinkhole’ managed to be fucking terrifying and really interesting at the same time.  I loved Natural World’s Giant Squid: Filming the Impossible.  Andy was hoping that the giant squid would “go all Jules Verne on their asses” which didn’t quite happen, but it was exciting and had a scary moment.  Bermuda Triangle: Secrets Revealed took a scientific approach without losing a sense of the creepiness surrounding the phenomenon.  Richard Forty’s Fossil Wonderlands was excellent and he’s fast becoming one of my favourite boffins. I’m a little disconcerted by the theory that T-Rex was basically a giant chicken, but then when I think back to that terrifying Rhode Island Red cockerel of my childhood, I can well believe it.

In history and literature, the two-parter Bible Hunters was a nice accompaniment to the Ehrman book I was reading at the time.  I also enjoyed Professor Robert Bartlett’s whistle stop tour through the Plantagenet kings (even shorter version: bloodthirsty, bloodthirsty, useless, bloodthirsty, bloodthirsty, useless, bloodthirsty, useless, bloodthirsty, bloodthirsty, useless, bloodthirsty, unfortunate, bloodthirsty).


My eating disorder has been giving me hell for the last couple of months, but I didn’t let it stop me enjoying food.

We had some good sushi at a local place and Japanese food with the twitter gang in London.  Also in London, I had awesome banana bread at Moreish, an excellent salad nicoise at Balfour and good pub food in The Skinner’s Arms, which are all in the Bloomsbury area.

Our own cooking attempts were a little more hit and miss. Andy made this thing in the slo-cooker that will henceforth be known only as “Beans of death”. The less said about it the better, although it did lead us to discover the useful “wind relieving” yoga pose.