Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018: The Fourth Quarter Summary

Well, as I expected, my showing in the fourth quarter was pretty weak. And apparently I never got around to finishing a quarter 3 summary. So I’ll write this one, and go back and fill in quarter 3.

I did manage to complete eight books, although some of them were quite short and one was actually a children’s book that my son Joshua read to me.

Books Completed

  • Moderan by David R. Bunch (New York Review Books Classics 2018 edition)
  • The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts
  • Daughter of Dreams by Michael Moorcock (the first of three novels in the 2014 Gollancz omnibus edition Elric: The Moonbeam Roads)
  • The Wrecks of Time by Michael Moorcock (in the omnibus volume Traveling to Utopia, Gollancz 2014) (finished)
  • The Ice Schooner by Michael Moorcock (in the omnibus volume Traveling to Utopia, Gollancz 2014) (in progress)
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl (Joshua read it to us as a bedtime story)
  • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Of the Moorcock novels, none was really a standout, although The Ice Schooner was the most engaging of this lot. I enjoyed The Freeze-Frame Revolution quite a bit. The Bloody Chamber is the real standout here, although the sexual politics it embodies are not simple, contemporary, or necessarily comfortable. This book of stories could easily be the major text for a seminar class.

I read these additional short stories by Peter Watts:

  • “The Island” by Peter Watts (2009 Novelette)
  • “Giants” by Peter Watts (short story)
  • “Hotshot” by Peter Watts (short story)

All are available on the author’s web site.

I didn’t manage to watch very many full-length movies this quarter. I recall only three:

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016 film)
  • Iron Man (2008 film)
  • Millions (2004 film)

The first Fantastic Beasts movie I can recommend, although not all that highly. Iron Man is a very good take on the superhero movie, better than most of the recent Marvel adaptations. Millions is an impressive and magical film, and quite fun, although the ending is a big weak.

I watched all of Series 11 of Doctor Who, with the exception of the final episode, “”The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos," which we just haven’t gotten to yet. There’s also the New Year’s special, which will be broadcast today, called “Resolution.” That will be available via the iTunes store tomorrow, and we’ll watch it when time allows.

The episodes we watched are:

  • “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”
  • “The Ghost Monument”
  • “Rosa”
  • “Arachnids in the UK”
  • “The Tsuranga Conundrum”
  • “Demons of the Punjab”
  • “Kerblam!”
  • “The Witchfinders”
  • “It Takes You Away”

I just polled the family, and we’re having a hard time deciding on a favorite. Several people voted for “Arachnids in the UK,” which had wonderful special effects. It also completely failed to have a coherent ending. Several people mentioned “The Tsuranga Conundrum,” mostly because of the wonderful little spaceship-eating monster. Grace mentioned “Demons of the Punjab” and I agree with her — it told the best human-centered story. But our main feeling towards most of these episodes is disappointment. Many of them have great premises, or great scenes, but overall just fail to really fire on all cylinders.

I’m not going to list the Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu episodes; I just don’t have much to say about them, although the kids loved them.

I want to mention one album in particular that I listened to heavily in the fourth quarter, and that is Akhnaten by Philip Glass. I got my copies in the form of discs 14 and 15 of The Complete Sony Recordings. This composition rewards study, and the recording richly rewards repeat listening — it’s just remarkable. As I mentioned in the blog, I would love to see this performed live.

Finally, there are a number of books that I started, or read part of; some of these I will eventually finish; some I won’t. Some will remain on my shelves to dip into in the future. Some might wind up on the give-away pile. I will definitely finish reading Grace The Haunting of Hill House. I’ll definitely finish reading the kids The Fellowship of the Ring.

Books Started or Continued

  • The Black Corridor by Michael Moorcock
  • Mistress of Mistresses by E. R. Eddison
  • Luke (Revised New American Bible, 1986-1990 edition)
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (bedtime story reading; re-reading for me)
  • The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin
  • Cluttering: Current Views on its Nature, Diagnosis, and Treatment by Yvonne van Zaalen and Isabella K. Reichel
  • The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert Paxton (in progress)
  • The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin (bedtime story reading)
  • A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes

Ypsilanti, Michigan
January 1st, 2019

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