"So what is apple butter anyway," you ask suspiciously, because frankly that sounds pretty weird.
It's not actually all that weird. It's really a kind of apple jam. It's a baked reduction and you can flavour it in a bunch of different ways and I'm getting better at it and it's getting better as I do. I believe it's called 'butter' because it's lovely and smooth with maybe just a hint of apple graininess in the texture, not because there's any actual butter involved. It preserves FOREVER--the stuff stays good, and stays good some more, and stays good after that--and although it's *time* consuming, it's also very easy to make. Most of the time is spent prepping the apples to cook down; everything else is really just putting it in the oven and remembering to stir it a few times while it does its thing.
We finally broke out the nifty apple corer/slicer/peeler that Ted's mom sent us and we put it to work on a bag of freshly collected apples. It worked BRILLIANTLY, reducing the time it takes to prepare enough apples for apple butter from over an hour down to about half an hour, and that included figuring out the ideal settings for it. If you have more than a few dozen apples to deal with, Iiiii would get one of these, 'cause wow.
The process for all apple butters is as follows; basically the only difference is how you decide to flavour it when you reach the "put sweetener in" stage. the apple cutter in motion!
Whrr! All done super fast. That was awesome. Into the pot!
then just slice once & put into the pot...
I didn't take any picture of pureeing the cooked down apples, but basically: put 1.5 cups of apple juice in with the apples, turn the heat on, stir a couple times as it boils to mush, then puree. I used my food mill this time, which is...honestly, about equal in pain-in-the-assery as putting hot apple glop into a blender. And then you've got applesauce to pour into a deepish flatish enamal cooking dish.
applesauce, pureed and tart as hell!
Put in a slow oven (around 325F) and cook for about an hour, stirring once or twice, until reduced by half:
the 'waterline' there on the far side is proof in the pudding (er, applesauce) that it's cooked down by halfish.
Add honey, white sugar, and a teaspoon of salt. I used about a cup of honey this time, because that's what I had available, and about 3 cups of sugar. (Our apples are VERY sour. YMMV; taste after putting the honey in & see what you think.) Adding the sugar & honey will refill the pot to about the previous full mark.
reliquifided with added honey & sugar!
Return to the oven, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until reduced by half again, probably around 90 minutes.
such red! very color!
It turns an amazing shade as the sugar caramelizes. My favourite thing about making apple butter is the different colors they all turn, depending on what you've put in it. The honey is super red and lovely.
If you wish, stir in a teaspoon of cinnamon after you remove it from the oven.
Jar as you would anything else.
a bit of leftover honey apple butter that wouldn't fit in a jar :)
Eat leftovers straight from the spoon.
om nom nom straight from the spoon
Miz Kit’s Honey Apple Butter 4lbs prepared (peeled, cored, sliced) tart apples 1.5 c apple juice/sweet cider 8 oz honey 3 c white sugar 1 tsp salt 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Put apples and apple juice into a large pot, cover, and boil until the apples are soft (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon stick and puree the mix in a blender/food processor/whatever until smooth. Turn into a deep, flat enamal-lined pan & put into a pre-heated oven at 325°F (150°C, 130°C fan assisted) and roast, stirring very occasionally, for an hour or until the puree has reduced by half.
Remove from oven. Stir in honey, sugar and salt. Return to oven for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring slightly more frequently. Jar as you normally would, or refrigerate and be prepared to eat a great deal of apple butter over the coming weeks. Makes around 48oz/6 8oz jars.
I went blackberry picking this morning, which I’ve been feeling torn up about having had no time to do. (I genuinely feel better for having gone.) I’d found a good run of them a couple weeks ago and went to check it out, to great success:
That’s over a kilo of berries picked in about 45 minutes, which I felt was a pretty good haul. While I was picking, one woman walking by said, “Good day for picking!” and another one who had been out picking yesterday actually stopped to talk to me (Her: I always feel SO GUILTY when I drive by these berries! Me: YOU UNDERSTAND ME!!!!), and that was really nice because almost everybody who’s spoken to me about picking at all thinks I’m bonkers.
So I came home and washed the berries
and got them into the pot
and made jam
and three hours after I started picking blackberries, I had homemade blackberry jam on fresh homemade bread.
Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. :)
I then made PEAR JAM because we have STUPID NUMBERS of pears on our pear trees (there are by far more pears fallen to the ground than we have had at all, in previous years at this house), and it is wonderful. I had no idea if it’d be any good because I’ve never had it, much less made it, but it’s pretty splendid. It starts out sweet and kind of apple-y and then suddenly it’s like NO WAIT THIS IS *PEAR* JAM!!! and it’s really good! And Ted, who likes pears (or at least processed pears) thought it was wonderful, so I’m very pleased with myself.
Tomorrow I have ambitions of making pear jelly, because I have An Awful Lot Of Pears here, and I bet that’ll be really nice too. And I gotta start doing something with the crabapples and the appleapples and…*despair*
(I mean, I gather other people can just walk on by fruits of the trees and whatnot without even flinching, but me and that lady from this morning, WE JUST CAN’T DO IT.)
(We’re gonna get a pressure cooker. That way I can make applesauce and canned (or at least jarred) pears and…other stuff…that will last if pressure-cooked but won’t otherwise.)
Picoreview: Inhumans: not *as* bad as the reviews said. To further illuminate that comment, I also went to see Rough Night this week, and of the two, Inhumans is not the one I wanted to walk out of.
That said, you should not in any way mistake it for *good*.
I went because I was sort of horrifiedly fascinated to see just how bad it was, after all the scathing reviews. The result may be that my expectations were SO LOW that I could not actually be disappointed. Also, there were only four people in the entire Imax theatre (I was the only woman), so I sat in the back row and livetweeted the whole thing, which may have added considerably to my enjoyment of the whole thing, because, I mean, it was awful, but I genuinely had a good time.
The inhuman special effects are unforgiveably bad. Medusa’s hair is embarrassing and her costume is dreadful. Gorgon is wearing plush boots with hooves glued to the bottoms and they must have told him “just walk on your toes, it’ll be fine.” Lockjaw–okay, actually, Lockjaw’s teleportation looks pretty cool, so presumably that’s where they spent all the budget. Although it doesn’t look like an expensive effect.
The writing is *appalling*, especially in the first twenty minutes. I mean, my *God*, it’s bad. Iwan Rheon is not only saddled with truly awful lines throughout, but is also, I think, badly miscast as Maximus, which is saying something, because the writing is so terrible for everyone that it’d be pretty easy to feel that the entire show was badly miscast. But he really stood out. *None* of it is well-written, though. Somebody somewhere said “Inhumans should have been treated as a family drama like The Tudors, only with superpowers,” and that really is what they should have done and instead they…have done this awful stilted thing with a painfully tropey creepy charmless bad guy and…I mean, honestly, I don’t even know how they made it this bad.
Ken Leung, playing Karnak (whose name I never caught in the show, and whom I referred to as Tattooed Attitude), was trying really hard with really bad material. (So was Crystal’s hair. Crystal, played by Isabelle Cornish herself seemed…pretty Crystal-like, really. Not good, but I thought she had potential.) Serinda Swan’s Medusa was…*sigh* Yeah. Anson Mount managed to be utterly awful without having to say a word as Black Bolt, and then he got a little better and I thought perhaps he could pull it off with time and practice, and by the end he’d won me over and I was really enjoying him.
(As an aside, though, these people have *moronic* communications systems for a people with a silent king. I mean, Black Bolt ACTUALLY USES SIGN LANGUAGE in this film. Which is AWESOME, because silent king! Except…Medusa…is the only person…in the entire Inhumans family…who has bothered to learn it, and thus is the only person who actually knows for sure what Bolt is saying. WHAT KIND OF DUMBASSERY IS THAT?! And also they have a, you know, like, Star Trek communicators system, WHICH THE KING CAN’T USE. BECAUSE THEY’RE MORONS. I mean, for God’s sake, if nothing else they’ve been watching Earth for ages, HASN’T SOMEBODY NOTICED HUMANS USE PHONES TO TEXT NOW? Do the Inhumans not have a writing system which THEIR KING could communicate with? OMFG!!!!)
Ahem. Back to the main post:
Gorgon is WONDERFUL. Despite the plush boots and bad writing, Eme Ikwuakor *radiates* charm and presence, and dominated the screen whenever he was on it. I loved him and I want him to have awesome SFX instead of humiliating ones.
There were three twists I didn’t expect in the show, two of which improved their characters (one improved the affected character so dramatically that I completely reassessed the performer’s ability) and one of which made me go OH YAY. And my final verdict?
I’ll watch more. It’s not good, but it’s not as bad as I expected from the reviews. I think its most unforgiveable flaw is that it’s not much *fun*, but honestly I do not think it’s noticeably worse than the first 2/3rds of season one Agents of Shield, which I thought was really grimly bad but watched all of. It’s not worse than Legends of Tomorrow, except Legends knew it was bonkers from the outset and just ran with it, which gave it a higher feet-kicking outrageous entertainment value. But ultimately, yeah, I’ll give Inhumans a chance.
Poor Indy has a quite awful cold, and woke up around 4am miserable with it, so that pretty well shut down my night’s sleep. I spent most of the morning sure I would still manage to get some work done somehow anyway, and then the poor kid fell asleep on me after throwing up a few times, so I gave up on that and had a small nap myself. Which I really needed, with the 4am wakeup call, so that was all good. :)
And then he woke up and I actually did manage to get a bit of work done after all, but due to the arrival of a needs-attention-now email, it mostly wasn’t really the work I expected to do. Still, something may eventually come of it, so it’s good to have done it. And I did get a bit of the work I meant to be doing done, and I’m feeling like I’m saying a lot of nothing as I write all this. TL;DR: sick kid, work accomplished.
In between that, Dad got the notification of his Canadian citizenship’s verification, which was AWESOME, and I made banana nut muffins which were also very good but not nearly the same level of AWESOME and also this week I got a box of BEWITCHING BENEDICT books which is also AWESOME but I haven’t taken a picture of them yet so I’ll just have to leave it at that.
Also I did not go to the gym today.
Also Wednesday I made a very brief jaunt to England and bought makeup and booze on the way home. This is very unlike me. :) (I’m slowly replacing the makeup I almost never wear with MUCH NICER makeup I will almost never wear. The lady who helped me decide what color foundation to buy said I had very nice skin. I’m sure she says that to all the girls, but it was nice anyway. And I did not buy dark blue sparkly lipstick although I was tempted!)
Also if you have to choose between seeing Rough Night and Girls Trip, choose Girls Trip every day and twice on Sundays. I might do a picoreview about that, if I remember.
Also, per a conversation with somebody the other day, the first thing I ever saw Idris Elba in was Thor, and I genuinely thought he had gold eyes. To the degree that the next time I saw him in something I was like “oh they must have given him brown contacts, that’s too bad,” and then I was like “…or…maybe…not….”
I WENT to the gym this morning. I barely caught the bus and I’d been thinking if I missed it I’d go for a good long Pokéhunt and get some new goggles because the ones I’ve been using are Indy’s and they’re not very comfortable but I can’t find mine, but I caught it so I was like: yay I will swim.
Only I got to the gym and into my swimsuit and then remembered I had not brought my swim cap, which is required. And the only ones they have to buy are silicone and I don’t like them so I didn’t want to spend money on one AND I hadn’t worn my sports bra/workout t-shirt so you can see where this is leading.
I did walk home instead of waiting for the bus, at least. It was a brisk 40 or so minute walk and I feel it should have netted me more step count than it did, but, well, it didn’t. Still, it was a good walk, and that’s something. (Devastatingly, Pokemon wouldn’t load so I did that WHOLE WALK and earned no candies. What’s even the point!?) And I did gym yesterday, I did an upper body workout that I’m feeling in my armpits today, so I did something right there. No gym tomorrow, tho, I have other stuff going on, but I should be back the day after.
Also it turned out there are a LOT of blackberries along the road on one particular stretch of that walk home so I might take a couple hours this weekend to go pick.
I have to go shower now because I am disgusting with the sweatiness.
guys i went to the gym and i swam 600 meters which is 1. embarrassingly little from my POV & 2. enough to just about kill me omfg *ded*
and then i studied spanish with duolingo for a few minutes while waiting for the bus and then did a rather nice 10 minute meditation on the bus on the way home and GOSH AREN’T I COOL?
it looks pretty apparent to me that “go to the gym immediately upon dropping indy at school” is the way to make this work for me. no chance to go home and find an excuse to not go to the gym. also ted figures he’ll catch the bus TO the gym that i’ll be taking HOME, which means as long as i get to the gym there’s an external expectation for him to be there (because i’ll expect to see him getting off the bus when i’m getting on it!) so that might work out very well for both of us. fingers crossed, anyway.
I done dooed it. I went back to the gym. I dropped Indy at school and hurried for the bus and caught it and went and worked out and I’m glad I did. So there. :p
I was in a pretty terrible mood, actually, when I got to the gym, because Indy had been obstreperous about breakfast and I thought I’d miss the bus and catching it didn’t really improve my mood.
But there’s a punching bag in the gym’s dance studio, and there was nobody around to mock me, so I put on “Under Pressure” and punched the bag for four minutes, which was EXTREMELY, *EXTREMELY* satisfying and improved my mood considerably. And then I took a jump rope off the wall and gave that a shot, and I tell you, nobody with big boobs, even encased in a quite solid sports bra, should ever have to watch themselves jump rope in a mirror. I looked like a frickin’ elephant. But once I found a rope long enough it turned out I could do 30 seconds straight without quite dying, which was a bit more than I expected, especially since I’d fumbled through a minute of jumping with a shorter rope before.
Did 10 minutes on the exercise bike and 6 minutes on the whizgig thing, the, uh, the rowing machine, and planned to do a quick hard upper body workout but got started and hit about 30 minutes of exercise total and went WOO I FEEL LIKE PUKING LET’S STOP NOW, so apparently a fairly all-out workout breaks me down at about the half hour mark. Which is okay, really, since I have 40 minutes max to work out and still be sure to catch the bus.
Which I did, and found a meditation app to use on the ride home, although I didn’t find it fast enough to use it and I have to find some good guided meditations on it, but the fact that I managed that much on the first day of school seemed like a triumph, so yay me.
This book was a lot of fun to work on, and I learned a great deal about Regency England in the writing of it. For example, I’ve always gone along with the oft-touted belief that young women of quality in the Regency era were ancient and decrepit if they weren’t married by 21. It turns out, though, that during that era they actually required permission to be married *before* 21 (hence the romance novel tradition of running off to Scotland where they could be married younger), and that most reasonably wealthy young women married in their early to mid twenties, usually to men who weren’t really all *that* much older than themselves. So that was a cool revelation!
And darn it, there was something else cool and basically against-the-concept that I also learned and I can’t remember right now. I’ll post about it when I do remember. :)
In the meantime, the print edition of BEWITCHING BENEDICT should come available next week–I’ll post about that too–and right now you can get it straight into your hot little e-reading hands. I hope you all enjoy it! ♥
The Season had, in Miss Claire Dalton’s estimation, come early, and come directly to her. It had arrived—or was soon to arrive—in the form of her cousin Charles, whom she had not seen since childhood. More interestingly, it was to arrive in the form of two of Charles’s friends, young men he had seen only a few times since leaving for the Coalition Wars more than seven years ago.
Claire’s mother had warned the Lads would be much taken with one another, but had not stopped Claire from dressing in the finest gown appropriate for home. She was consequently adorned in a white gown embellished with a rather high collar that nearly brushed her jaw but left the hollow of her throat exposed. The day was warm, and she had foregone a wrap, satisfied instead with the splash of pink allowed her by the ribbon of a deep straw bonnet that protected her skin from the weakening September sun. She felt quite pretty, with dark ringlets brushing her cheekbones as they fell free from the bonnet, and if her steps minced due to the slight gather at the gown’s hem, then at least she was ladylike and not striding about like a man.
It would be more suitable, she supposed, to await Charles’s arrival in a sitting room, pursuing her needlepoint or reading…or singing, or painting, or Italian, or any one of the myriad applications well-bred young women attended to. She had spent the morning engaged in similarly appropriate activities: calling upon the widow down the road with her mother before stopping in to visit friends and discussing, in breathless anticipation, the arrival of Charles and his Lads. The only pall that lay over these enjoyable duties was the absence of Claire’s elder brother, recently commissioned and off to the Peninsula, but in their way, the morning engagements distracted her from that as well.
And if she wished to spend the afternoon pacing—not that she was pacing; she was merely taking a refreshing stroll up and down the precise length of the garden walk from which she could still see the drive—then that was her business and hers alone. Her mother’s mouth had not, Claire was sure, twitched with amusement when Claire had announced her intention to take some air. Nor, surely, was her mother now watching from an upstairs window with poorly-concealed laughter on her features. No, she was merely smiling at her only daughter, and nothing more. Claire was determined, if not actually certain, of this, and carefully didn’t look toward her mother’s well-cut figure in the window for fear of dislodging her own determination.
Some little while ago dust had risen on the road, lifting Claire’s spirits with it. In due time, though, that dust had ejected not a trio of young men, but a wagon filled with victuals intended to sustain three strapping youths over the course of four days. Claire’s spirits had been hopelessly dashed. Now she presented an expression of complete indifference to a new cloud rising from the end of the drive, though her heart beat at an unnatural pace and her fingers were white about the knuckles where she strangled a trembling sapling with her grip.
Charles had, in her memory, been quite handsome: tall and with the promise of shoulders that any maiden would swoon for. He looked a great deal like their grandfather, or at least like the paintings of that gentleman (in, of course, his youth) which now adorned the halls of the Dalton residence in Town. It stood to reason, then, that Charles’s friends would also be handsome, as they were all gentlemen and surely like called to like. Claire’s first glimpse would tell all, and that was well worth skulking about in the garden.
Not that she was skulking. She lacked the opportunity to re-form that thought into a more pleasant interpretation before the carriage—no, the riders!—appeared. All three of the young men rode ahead of the carriage, so far ahead of it that its dust cloud had become a distant lie about their approach. They were so far ahead of it, in fact, that although she had been watching for them for three hours, their arrival came as a surprising thunder of hooves and laughter.
All of them sat beautifully upon their horses, with buckskins and Hessians, round-fronted tailcoats and light, capeless great coats all of such fine quality that in the rush of their appearance, not one man could be said to stand out from the others. Two of them had dark hair and the third, light, but beyond that, there were no immediately distinguishing characteristics. Hardly worth peering through the hedges for, Claire thought with a sniff of irritation. She took a single step back, and in doing so, attracted the attention of one of the riders. He had been in the lead, but without warning he spun his horse—a fine bay gelding—so that he circled the other two and came up behind them. He was not, though, attuned to his companions, but rather to the gardens beside the drive. Appealingly, he was framed, as if deliberately, by a slender archway in the hedge that allowed egress and exit from the garden to the drive.
Claire saw at once that he fell short of devastatingly handsome—a slight weakness of chin in profile stole that from him, though as his gaze came around to her, it became evident that his jaw had all the necessary breadth from the front to disguise its minor lack in profile. His nose, though, was perfect, and his cheekbones so sharp as to have been carved by a razor. Black hair was worn full of height and swept forward so that the fringe softened the width of his forehead; sideburns accentuated both his cheekbones and the length of his jaw.
Their gazes locked and a jolt of excitement stopped Claire’s heart, only to have it start again at a racing pace as a wickedly sly half-smile slid over full and sensual lips. His eyes were as blue as a lightning flash, and Claire stood as though struck by them, unable to retreat or advance. It made no matter: he had seen her, his smile was for her alone, and he would sweep her into his arms, unguarded against passion, and within hours he would ask to speak to Claire’s father privately, neither of them able to wait a moment longer than necessary for consummation of the fire that even now burned in both their breasts—
“What ho!” this vision of manliness cried, “Charles, there is a mouse in the garden!”
The girl herself, truth be told, was barely visible within the long confines of a poke bonnet. Her bonnet, though, glimpsed through the tangle of branches and changing leaves that lined the drive to the Daltons’ country home, made so strong an impression of a mouse’s quivering nose extending from a hole that Benedict Fairburn spoke before he thought. The words had barely left his lips when he saw the girl more clearly through the green archway that separated drive from garden. Dismay clawed his voice, and any amelioration he might have made, away.
Beyond the bonnet, a prim and old-fashioned dress did so little for the girl’s attributes that it could only have been chosen to disguise them, or by a servant grateful to wear the outdated cast-offs of a wealthy mistress. He had shown poor enough manners by calling attention to her. It was worse yet to tease someone of such obviously lower rank than himself. His companions wheeled about, already laughing. Flushed with embarrassment, Benedict did his best to wave them off. “Never mind, it was a mean jape, let us ride on—”
Charles, a man of more genial nature than his wartime reputation suggested, chuckled agreeably and clicked to his horse, bringing it around again. Evander Hewitt, though, somewhat meaner than Benedict remembered from school, urged his forward a few steps, ducking to peer through the arch at the young woman. “Looks like a mouse to me, Benny. Shall I be the cat?” He pressed the horse forward, moving implacably toward the girl.
Just beyond Hewitt’s shoulder, Benedict saw the girl’s expression clear to such forthright astonishment that the vividness of her green eyes became visible despite the bonnet’s depths. She did not, he thought with surprised admiration, look afraid. But then, she could withdraw easily enough: they were in a garden, not an alleyway, where Hewitt’s horse would block any avenue of escape.
Still, it had already gone far enough. Benedict said, “Hewitt,” at the same time Dalton, more firmly, said, “Evander,” but neither man’s voice stopped their third. He advanced, smirking with anticipation of the girl’s oncoming fearful break.
Instead, she held her ground, small jaw set within the confines of her bonnet. There was hardly anything to her, Benedict thought. She was a slight and delicate creature, not much larger than a mouse after all, though there had never been a mouse with such a forthright gaze. The set of his shoulders said even Hewitt lost confidence in the face of her calm. Pride kept him urging the horse onward, though, until the girl, who had not moved a step, put her hand up with slow and gentle certainty to take the animal’s bridle at the cheek piece. The horse blew a lippy breath full of commentary as it lowered its head. Hewitt’s spine, already stiff with his riding posture, went positively rigid.
The girl took no notice of him at all. She could not, Benedict realized with slow horror, be a servant, regardless of how unfashionable her gown was. No servant, not even Dalton’s valet Worthington, who ranked among the most unflappable men Benedict had ever encountered, could remain so arrogantly collected in the face of three gentlemen and their horses. He was not surprised, then, when the girl placed a gentle hand on the horse’s nose and murmured to it in cultured, dulcet tones, “What utterly appalling creatures you travel with, my beauty. I don’t suppose you would care to dump the one astride you into the garden pond? Well, yes, I’m certain you would, but you are far too well-mannered a beast to do such a thing, aren’t you? What a shame.”
She lifted her gaze then, to look through Hewitt as if he were not there at all, to disregard Benedict as if he were something too unpleasant to acknowledge, and to lance Charles with disgust. “Cousin Charles. I’m sure you are welcome to my father’s house. I expect you remember where the stables are. Perhaps you and your companions could take yourselves there, tend to your horses, and before dinner is announced, do something about the dreadful smell of horse embedded in your clothes and skin. Good afternoon.” With another gentle touch to the horse’s nose, showing clearly that it stood highest in her estimation of the gathering before her, the girl turned, walked away, and did not look back.
All three men gazed after her, mesmerized, Benedict with the heat of bad manners scalding his cheeks. He had not yet scraped together an apology to Charles, much less attempted to form one to offer to the young woman, when Hewitt barked, “Well! Good thing we’re not here for the society, isn’t it?”
“That was badly done, Evander,” Charles said quietly. Dalton never spoke loudly, not anymore, Benedict thought. He’d been hotter of head in their school days, but not since his return from the front. Now he was always reserved, even in his sensibility, and yet his mild tone caved even Hewitt’s stiff posture.
Sullen, he muttered, “Thought she was a servant. and I’d put a scare into her, that’s all.”
“It is almost worse to terrorize a serving girl than a gentlewoman,” Dalton said in the same softly chiding voice. “A lady might have the education, self-possession and wit to stand her ground, as my cousin did, whereas a servant could only quake and tremble for fear of losing her position if she dared defend herself. Fear is no way to live a life, Evan. Come. We have horses and, if Miss Dalton is to believed—and I dare say she is—bathing to attend to.”
With the faintest uncomfortable suspicion that the smooth waters of Dalton’s tones could turn suddenly dangerous and rough, and that Miss Claire Dalton might well be a topic that could set those rough waters a-boil, Benedict followed after his host and tried not to think too long on the green-eyed girl.
His cousin had not, it seemed, grown much in stature, though she had retained the boldness he recalled from her girlhood. Dalton smiled as he led the Lads toward the stables, where, despite Claire’s pointed suggestion, they handed the beasts over to the stable-boys rather than tend to the animals themselves. He was, indeed, smiling still when he met the other two at the stable doors, and Fairburn blushed to see Dalton’s humor still engaged.
“I’m ashamed of myself, Dalton, I truly am. I’ll apologize to Miss Dalton—”
“If she’ll let you,” Charles said with an upward flick of his eyebrows. “I remember Claire as a proper little thing, Benny, but deuced if she didn’t hold her ground once she’d made a decision. She may go through the forms, but whether she’ll forgive you, that’s something else entirely!” Still with uplifted eyebrows, he added, for clarity’s sake, “You, Evan, will apologize.”
Hewitt’s lip curled. “You’ve just said she wouldn’t accept it.”
“And yet.” Charles offered one of his gentlest smiles and watched with a trace of sorrow as Evander Hewitt’s shoulders bowed slightly, as if the smile had the weight of a blow.
Evander had been generous in boyhood, a generosity made easy by an income guaranteed to him as both only child and beloved son, and by good looks that artists loved to paint. Things had changed since their school days, though, many things, and where generosity had once flowed, meanness now too often ran in its stead. Several of the other lads—not just lads, but the Lads, half a dozen of them in all who were closest to Dalton’s heart in friendship—didn’t care for Hewitt, but thus far they were all willing to tolerate him for Dalton’s sake. Dalton himself had lost too much to give up on this Lad, and so Hewitt remained.
He also nodded, muttering an agreement to apologize, and to Dalton’s way of thinking, all was once again right with the world. He fell into step between the Lads, momentarily aware that he stood—if they were to measure men as they did horses—a full hand shorter than the other two. Claire’s diminutive size was something of a family trait, although Dalton considered his friends tall, rather than thinking of himself as short. The three of them passed through the stable doors together before Dalton took the lead, though anyone could see the pathway to the main house.
It was a fine-looking manor, not ostentatiously large and set into well-kept lawns and gardens that had not yet lost the jeweled colors of summer. A chicken yard and vegetable garden, attended by a white-capped girl who dipped a curtsy as the Lads passed by, lay between stables and house. The whole of it made a pretty picture, the very essence of a quiet, comfortable country life. There were lands enough to hunt on—indeed, that had been much of the appeal in agreeing to his uncle’s invitation—and there were, aside from Claire, no young women to confuse a lads’ holiday with the never-ending Society nonsense of matchmaking. Charles had returned from the Peninsular War some weeks ago only to be accosted by his parents’ hopes of a swift and suitable marriage, a barrage as ceaseless as the guns of war. He consequently spent as many waking hours as possible in the Lads’ company, avoiding not only his mother’s unsubtle hints but what few parties and socials that nice society held in the autumn. His Uncle George’s offer of a country visit had been a respite Charles both desperately desired and felt was ideal for the time of year; London was dull in September. All this reflection took him in companionable silence around the chicken yard and toward the front doors. Just before they swept open, Benedict seized Charles’s arm and spoke in a tone of nervous concern.
“Cease your musing, Charles, and tell me what to do if Miss Dalton refuses my apology. I’m unaccustomed to insulting young ladies.”
“Brave it out, man,” Dalton said in surprise. “She won’t be rude, and aside from meals, there’s no call to speak to the girl. We’re here for a bit of sport, not to fuss over whether a country miss has had her nose put out of joint. Besides, it’s Hewitt who tried to intimidate her and from whom a proper apology is necessary. You only made an unfortunate remark.”
“But one that needs redressing.” Fairburn straightened his shoulders, earning an eye-roll from Hewitt before the doors opened and all three Lads were ushered in.
Dalton was drawn directly into an embrace by his short, sweet-faced aunt, whose dress, he noted, was no more fashionable than that of her daughter’s. The house, at a glance, gleamed and was well-kept, suggesting their lack was in a sartorial sense, not funds, though it was possible a commission for their son had set them back farther than they might care to admit. But, no: in thinking about it, it seemed to Charles that even when he was young, his aunt’s fashion sense had been some years behind the times. Having a daughter of marriageable age had not, it seemed, improved the matter. George Dalton, a man of middling height and little hair, was not badly out of fashion, but men’s styles changed less rapidly than did women’s.
“Charles Edward,” his aunt, oblivious to his thoughts, said with real pleasure. “What a delight to see you again.”
“Aunt Sylvia. You look well. Uncle George.” Dalton shook the latter’s hand, then, smiling, allowed himself to be drawn into an embrace there as well. The elder Dalton gentleman rumbled a greeting, surprising Charles, as always, with the unexpected depth of his voice from such an unprepossessing man. “And George Arnold?”
“In Spain.” Sylvia Dalton put visible effort into not allowing a shadow to cross her smiling face. “Not at the front, or not last that we heard. And these are your friends?”
“Yes, of course. May I present you to Mr and Mrs Dalton, my beloved uncle and aunt. Aunt, Uncle, these are Benedict Fairburn and Evander Hewitt. You will recall me speaking of them, perhaps, from my school days.”
Hands were kissed and shaken with polite murmurings as Aunt Sylvia said, “You would be Benny and Evan,” with a smile. “How splendid to finally meet you. Claire mentioned you were all in dire hope of a bath before supper, so I’ve had hot water sent up. I hope Worthington won’t be too put out.” Her light blue eyes sparkled, bringing a laugh to Dalton’s lips.
“I see you remember him too. Well, he’s traveling with the carriage and our belongings, so he can’t protest too strenuously if I’m clean before he arrives. I have no doubt our dinner wear will be laid out and presentable, all at his able hand, before we’re out of the bath.”
“Knowing Worthington, he may well somehow have it done before you’re in the bath. Best hurry before he proves me right.” Uncle George’s words were made droller yet by the depth of his voice.
Charles felt Fairburn and Hewitt exchange a surprised glance as they heard George’s voice properly for the first time. As a footman escorted them up to their rooms, Benedict breathed, “He ought to have been a politician, with that voice.|”
“I believe he was slated to be,” Charles murmured in response. “But he fell quite in love with my aunt rather than make the fortuitous marriage my grandfather had arranged for him, and in pique the old man cut him off. They retired to the country to live on Aunt Sylvia’s younger brother’s sufferance, but he died in a riding accident when I was only a child. There being no others of her lineage, she inherited this house and lands. It nearly gave my grandfather apoplexy to have his disinherited son come into such comfort.”
“Charming family,” Hewitt muttered.
Charles chuckled as they were led into their separate rooms. “Cast no stones, Evan. Heaven knows what we all are, beneath the surface.”
For a country estate with no pretensions at grandeur, Worthington decided the Dalton house was tremendously well presented. The room appointed to his immediate employer, young Master Dalton, was spacious enough to house a large bed and wardrobe with a vanity without crowding, yet small enough that the generous fireplace would easily warm it on a cold winter’s day. Even the uppermost corners were clean of cobweb and soot. The leaded glass windows fit snugly into their frame, and the shutters were padded to hold in heat. The colors were, if not fashionable, at least pleasant, and were kept up; there were no faded patches in the duvet cover or on the upholstered chair, and the mirror above the fireplace reflected wallpaper of handsomely striped cream and burgundy.
He had been suitably welcomed by the staff. The butler himself had shown Worthington the way to Charles Edward’s room while the three footmen carried luggage to each of the young men’s rooms. When the footmen were gone, Worthington had, in a politely conspiratorial voice, wondered if there was anything within the household of which he should be aware. He was informed in an equally conspiratorial tone of the set-to betwixt Miss Dalton and the Lads upon their arrival, observed, the Dalton’s butler murmured, by a maid watching from an upper window. Worthington extended his gratitude for the bit of knowledge, and butler and valet alike had shared the brief, expressionless look perfected by servants the world over that spoke volumes about the ladies and gentlemen they served without ever betraying a word or a thought of it on their faces. Both parties departed the discussion with the satisfaction of knowing they could work comfortably with the other man.
The young master’s clothes were, of course, unpacked, and a suit pressed and laid out for the evening before he emerged from the bath. For some reason that caused Charles Edward to laugh, but laughter had been rare enough from him in the past months, and Worthington was glad to hear it. He now helped Dalton slip a deep blue, double-breasted tailcoat over his shoulders as the young master observed himself in the mirror, Worthington an unremarkable shadow in its background. Dalton turned twice, examining the fall of the tails to the backs of his knees and the admirable upward nip of the front, then brushed his thumbs down the lapels with satisfaction. “I believe that will do, Worthington, thank you. Tell me, is my aunt and uncle’s house a tight ship? Do you approve?”
Worthington lifted his eyes to meet Dalton’s in the mirror, his own non-committal brown; Dalton’s a lazy hazel. “Of course, sir.” He took precisely enough breath after the last word to leave things unsaid, and Charles Edward, of course, seized upon them.
“It wouldn’t be my place to say, sir.”
“Oh, please, Worthington. I know we’re back in civilized territory, but must we return to all that prattle?” Dalton shook off Worthington’s hands so he could face the valet with all the laziness gone from his hazel eyes. “Haven’t we been through enough to forgo the niceties of society, at least in private?”
“What is practiced in private cannot be forgotten in public,” Worthington replied, but held up a hand to forestall his master’s complaint. “Very well, sir. I may have heard that your companions, Master Hewitt in particular, were badly behaved toward Miss Dalton.”
“Oh, that.” The laziness came into Dalton’s eyes as he waved the concern away. “I’ve spoken to them already, Worthington. They’ll apologize, both of them. Anything else?”
Worthington hesitated, examining his employer’s features. Dalton was monied, of course, his parents having easily afforded a commission that the young man had not necessarily required. Nor had he needed to serve at the front; he might have had a safe and respectable desk job that no one would have sneered at, but such caution was not in Charles Dalton. Serving had been a passion; serving well, an obligation to that passion.
Similarly, Worthington might have stayed behind, sending a more adventuresome valet in his stead, or indeed allowing Dalton’s person to be cared for from within the military ranks. But Worthingtons had served Daltons for over half a century, and James Allen Worthington would not be the son to abandon his duty. He had grown up with—or near, at least—Dalton, who was only a few years his junior; they had been man and servant since Dalton’s eighteenth year, just under a decade now. There had never been any real question that Worthington would join Charles wherever he went.
Nor was there any question that if Worthington felt strongly about any topic that he should, in time, be able to make his employer aware of it, though that was in Worthington’s opinion the duty of any valet. It was somewhat less expected, perhaps, that a man of Dalton’s stature might deign to listen to his valet’s opinions, but listen he did.
That did not mean the moment was always right to express one of those opinions. Worthington, judging Dalton’s pleasantly curious guise, concluded that this was not the time. The softness had already slid once from Dalton’s gaze, and Worthington knew well what dangers the harder edge in Dalton’s eyes could unveil. So rather than pursue topics that could ignite a fire, the valet straightened the tall and slim lines of Dalton’s ballroom cravat and, with a step back, said, “Nothing, sir, now that I’ve got that tidied.”
“Very good. I’ll call for you after dinner, Worthington. I think I can manage until then.”
Dalton grinned, the familiar and friendly smile of an equal, and clapped his hand to Worthington’s shoulder before hastening to the dinner call. Worthington trailed a few steps behind, retreating as the other Lads came down an opposite stair to meet Dalton at the landing. Worthington, silent and attentive, might have been no more than another sculpture.
But he watched Evander Hewitt, and as the Lads departed, Hewitt’s sharp gaze met Worthington’s neutral one. The valet lowered his eyes as was appropriate to his station, and knew that Hewitt could not read the mistrust that Worthington felt in his bones.
Picoreview:Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets: much worse than it had to be.
I went to see this with a friend who’s visiting, and we agreed that it really was much worse than it had to be, which is different, perhaps a step up from, “not as good as it could have been.”
The dialogue, specifically the dialogue between leads Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, was excrutiating. They had roughly the chemistry of two wet paper towels (although that may be doing wet paper towels a disservice), and the attempt at a romantic storyline between them was very possibly the worst I’ve ever seen on film.
The stupid thing is that it was totally unnecessary. They could have eliminated all attempt at a romance and made them just partners and it would have improved the film 100% and cut it by at least 20 minutes, which would have improved it another 80%. (It would require at least another 10 minutes of cuts for cuts to improve it by a full 100%.)
Aside from the total lack of chemistry, DeHaan and Delevingne were desperately mis-cast in terms of size and physical attributes: they literally looked like children with their waifish forms, big eyes, delicate bone structures, and teensy tinsy heights. Everybody else (including the obviously very young and very, very pretty Kris Wu as a young sergeant that my companion and I said sadly to each other, “He’s obviously going to die,” as soon as he came on screen) looked like adults and towered over them. It was genuinely bizarre.
On the other hand, it turned out Delevingne, whom I’d only half-seen in the half-watched Suicide Squad, was really pretty good when not on screen with DeHaan, which made her character being sidelined a lot annoying even though I’m not a reader of the original comics, which are titled Valerian and Laureline and the characters evidently carry equal story weight. (My companion didn’t think she was as badly used as I did, so YMMV.) I want to see her in a well-written part, now, but I wish they’d cast somebody else in this role. Someone who didn’t look like a Wolfrider thrust amongst humans.
All that (and more) bitching aside, I’m not sorry I saw it. The effects were glorious, the maps from Valerian & Laureline to every piece of space opera from Star Wars onward were clearly and brilliantly overlaid, starting with a Jabba the Hudefinitely not Jabba character and rolling right up through Avatar (we, in fact, kept referring to the main alien species as “the pale Avatar people”), the underlying story was decent, and the first five minutes were among the best I’ve ever seen in science fiction film making.
Seriously: the first five minutes were worth the price of admission. Even if the rest of it had been irredeemably horrible (instead of just a lot worse than it needed to be) I would not have been sad to have seen it on the big screen just for the first five minutes. They were uplifting and hopeful and funny and poignant and *beautiful*.
Also Rihanna was wonderful. I love Rihanna anyway and although her introduction in the film was, um. Yes. It sure was um. Anyway. She was amazing in her small part and the movie would have been vastly improved if she’d been cast as Valerian. Unfortunately, what casting her *did* do was play up how poorly cast the leads were, because she was all emotion and riveting screen presence and completely overwhelmed DeHaan (Delevingne was only on screen with her for a few seconds), but dang, I loved her.
So I thought the bones of a good–even great–movie were in there, but they were tragically given body by two badly miscast leads and a script that needed to stop forcing romance onto a working relationship, and that’s genuinely too bad.
I *may* have pre-order links for other sites by tomorrow, but if not, I should have most of them for Friday when it goes live. With luck I’ll also have print edition links, but it’s possible that will take another week, and the audio book, which is in the works, won’t be out for a couple months. Still, it’s coming together QUITE NICELY here at the end. I’m pretty excited. :)
This constitutes a major milestone on the Nibbled To Death By Ducks list of things to do, as well as an entirely new publishing venture for me (I’ve never done a magic-free historical romance before!), and hopefully the first of a very long list of things to come out on a very regular schedule for the next, um. Several years. :)
Benedict Fairburn does not quite need his ailing great-aunt’s fortune, especially since he’ll have to marry to get it. His family, however, thinks otherwise—as do many of the eligible ladies in London—and the pressure is mounting. An embarrassment of attentions fill Benny’s time, but the young lady he prefers roundly dislikes him.
Claire Dalton, cousin to one of Benedict’s oldest friends, is too busy debuting in Society to pay much attention to the Fairburn boy who once insulted her past bearing. He doesn’t recognize her, but that’s hardly upsetting, especially with the fetching Mr Graham offering his arm.
Unfortunately, Mr Graham is not all he seems, and each week brings a fresh disaster for Claire’s first Season. It’s enough to drive a young woman to distraction, especially since Benny Fairburn keeps behaving so very oddly. Concealed tragedy, poor orphans, a dotty great-aunt, deception and misunderstanding whirl in every direction, ready to explode.
Benedict and Claire are perfect for each other. Unfortunately, it may take catastrophe to make them realize as much…
The Lovelorn Lads: A man needs manners, if he is to marry.
I really hope you’ll like this story as much as I do. It’s just cute, and I really think anybody who likes my writing ought to like the Lovelorn Lads just fine, even if you’re not usually a romance reader. *happy, excited dance*!
I went to bed around 10 last night and, not at all to my delight, woke up at 10 to 6. I lay around for a while sullenly considering that this was, in fact, the ideal I’m nominally going for: earlyish to bed, early to rise, get some work done before bringing Indy to school and all that.
Except not on a Sunday, dammit.
Anyway, I got up after half an hour or so and spent a couple hours getting increasingly tired while working on an e-book layout, and I’ve concluded that probably if I can do this on a weekday basis, having to interrupt the work flow to bring Indy to school and then take myself to the gym is EXACTLY what I’ll need in order to keep myself going through the morning and into the afternoon. I don’t know what I’ll do about the almost-inevitable 2pm slump (the obvious answer here would be ‘go for a walk’) but given the sleepiness cycle, I’d say yeah, this would probably be Just About Right.
Assuming I manage to get to bed right around 10pm ALMOST ALL THE TIME. Well, Catie, who’s responsible for that, then, *hmmm*? (Of course, if I get into the habit of the gym, for the first several weeks at least I’m going to be so exhausted that I may fall asleep by 10 whether I mean to or not…)
I went into the bookstore the other day and there are so many books I want to read and I’ve got so much work to do before I can read any of them. *cries* Also my houseguest is TEMPTING me, TEMPTING ME, I SAY, to watch s5 Orphan Black this Thursday & Friday (the first days of school) and I’m being Drawn Into Temptation. Which means I have to finish up this e-book (which is waiting on cover art and also on me figuring out which button to press to tell it to clean up unused code) and do another set of copy edits by Thursday, which really isn’t anything like impossible. It just seems like a lot, somehow.
I was telling someone at Worldcon that I’m basically five years behind in my reading schedule, so pretty much if you had a book come out in 2012 I’m right on it! But I’d like to be reading a little closer to the present. Moop. So I’ve got KSR’s new book, and I still haven’t read Ian MacDonald’s Luna books and really want to, and I have the second two Anne Lyle (hello, 2012) books to read, and there’s another Long Earth book out, and I’m *desperate* to read Emma Newman’s Planetfall books, and I have (HELLO, 2012) a Carol Berg duology to read, and those are just what I can think of off the top of my head without checking the TBR shelf, much less going into the bookstore again. *flails* So if I get my edits and things done I’m going to read SOMETHING over the weekend.
(*pauses to check how many books I’ve read from this year’s TBR shelf. 10 of the 41 I’ve read this year, which isn’t bad, actually. It leaves me with 13 fiction books on the TBR shelf, assuming I don’t bounce off any of them. Also, 41 books, while not BRILLIANT, isn’t bad for the year so far.)
A while ago Ted said I had the kind of work/life balance that most people really dreamed of. That I had this incredibly rewarding creative *job* that I love passionately and then on top of that I had all these completely amazing HOBBIES that I’m actually quite good at and that most people would try to have as part of their ‘life’ balance around the, you know, job as a cop or whatever.
That made me reel a bit, because I never think I have a very good work/life balance. I’m…extremely focused, shall we say. When I’m working. It’s all or nothing, and honestly, it works really well for me. And then in my down time I don’t–I often don’t even *think* to–pursue the hobbies I’d like to.
(Excuse me while I suddenly take a moment to prioritize them, just for my own clarification: photography, art, sewing. Not necessarily in that order, but those are the three things I think I’d really like to *do*, in my down time. And reading, although I don’t consider reading a *hobby*.)
Anyway, so the point is I don’t think of myself as being especially balanced in the work/life sense. And I was having a really intense think about this last night with regards to fitness in particular, because, as I said, I do this extreme All Or Nothing thing, and working out really kind of needs to be consistent.
A Problem is that if I do the kind of 60-90 minute workout that I enjoy, then with the bus ride to the gym and back again, I’m looking at a really solid 3 hour block out of my day. And that’s too much in my All Or Nothing work mindset. (Especially when there’s a specific Child In School window I’ve got to work with. It’d be less of an issue if the bus started running at 6am, but it doesn’t start until 9. And of course 6am assumes I’d get up and go to the gym, which…well. Sometimes it happens. It helps if I GO TO BED by 10pm, which I far too often don’t do. ANYWAY. :))
So I was trying to figure out how to deal with that. I was thinking, well, if I bring Indy to school and then RUN for the bus I MIGHT catch it downtown–except realistically I won’t, because school and the bus circuit start at the same time and we don’t usually drop Indy off until just before the morning bell. But it did occur to me that there’s a bus stop…not necessarily closer to his school, but more to the point, farther on the bus route than at its start point, which might mean I could go from the school to the Other Stop and get there just in time to be taken to the gym. I’m going to go run an experiment on this as soon as I’ve gotten dressed this morning.
And then the other thing that struck me was that I just have to bust my ass and do a 40 minute workout instead of a 90 minute one so I can catch the next bus home (they’re hourly). Because, I mean, obviously 5 40 minute workouts a week will do me a lot more good than zero 90 minute ones.
The other thing I really flat out should do to make this work is go to bed at 10. That makes getting up between 6 and 6:30 an option (at least, that’s what I do left to my own devices on a Writing Retreat), so I can roll out of bed into the office and get 60-90 minutes of work done before the Getting Ready For School process starts in the house. My *entire day* is enormously more satisfying and productive if I get work done before 8am, because I always feel like “look how much I got done already! I can do ANYTHING by noon!” when I get work done early.
(Which, *twitch*. See, this is why a morning workout makes me twitchy, because it’s Interrupting That Flow, but the flip side of it is I’VE MET ME and if I do not do *something* to prioritize exercise I’ll stay at the desk all day long because “I’ve gotten so much done if I just stay another hour I’ll get SO MUCH MORE DONE” and then it’s 7pm and that ain’t it, kid. And also, who are we kidding, school ritual interrupts it anyway so I should work with reality to as great a degree as possible.)
(This post brought to you by the True Beginning Of The Year, and the Attempt To Create A Schedule Around It.)
I’ve had this to-do list for…ever. Forever. Very little of it is the fun kind of to-do, which for me is YAY WRITE A WHOLE NEW BOOK YAY THIS IS MY FAVOURITE PART. It’s all the other stuff. It’s edits and copyedits and guilting over unwritten short stories
(I was going to really try to focus on writing…I was going to say ‘good’, but I write good enough short stories. But twisty, deep ones, perhaps. I want to add that to my skill set. So I was going to try focusing on learning how to write those. And then I realized I’ve got so much else actually *due* that it would be moronic to try to add that to my plate. It’s probably mostly a reaction to admiring people who win Hugos or sell short stories independently, anyway, and sort of vaguely wishing I was Like Them, and I usually get over that. Even if I really would like to be able to write more independent, clever, intelligent short stories. I’ll stop being parenthetical now and try to get back to the point.)
and all the little details of self publishing that I haven’t, for one reason or another, managed to hand off to Ted, and anyway, I usually have a Thinks To Do list but this has been my Nibbled To Death By Ducks list, and I’m about two years behind on all of it. Which is a lot of catching up to do.
But I am THIS CLOSE to being caught up/done with TWO projects, and it’s starting to be a Big Psychological Relief.
I’m finalized-cover-art away from launching BEWITCHING BENEDICT, my adorkable magic-free Regency romance, and I’m copy-edits-and-book-layout away from delivering REDEEMER to my insanely patient backers, toward whom I feel so much guilt I want to cry every time I think about it. Those projects are almost done, and, just…*weeps* It’ll be such a relief to have those out.
And although the To Do list just…keeps…going…on…after that, I’m…I’m trying not to think that far ahead, honestly. I’m trying to just keep one project at a time in mind. If I think about it all I despair. Right now I just gotta get through Nibbled To Death.
September’s Nibbled To Death project is writing KISS OF ANGELS, which absolutely has to be done in September so I can get it into a general release launch in December (Patreon supporters will get it the instant it’s finished). I’m trying pretty desperately here to get myself into a quarterly release schedule, BUT I CANNOT THINK ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW IT WILL LEAD TO DESPAIR
But once KISS OF ANGELS and three or four short stories are done, I’m…done, I think, with Nibbled To Death By Ducks. And that will be so. nice. *weeps*
I’ve been–I don’t think I’ve been doing it on the blog, but on Twitter and my FB page I’ve been keeping pretty close tabs on Wonder Woman all summer long. I’ve seen it five or six times in the theatre (including infamously flying to Liverpool to take my friend Leah to it to make sure she’d see it when her husband didn’t particularly want to!). I’ve been watching it break record after record–it was the biggest opening for the first weekend in June ever, it’s the biggest female-led, female-directed movie in history, Warner Bros have announced they’re going to be running a major Academy Awards campaign for it for Best Picture and Best Director (and I tell you, having seen it six times, I *still* think Gal Gadot deserves a Best Actress nomination). It stayed in theatres at nearly unprecedented numbers–it’s down to under 1000 now, but it only dropped that low last week–and I’ve just been hanging on to watching it go from success to success. It’s meant a lot to me. It shouldn’t *have* to, but it has.
And now I’m looking at this week’s nubers. $402.8m in North America as of Wednesday. $396m internationally (and that’s as of the weekend, because Box Office Mojo doesn’t get international numbers as rapidly). $798.7m all together, worldwide.
So I’m calling it: Wonder Woman is going to squeak over $800m worldwide *before* it opens in Japan on the 25th.
The fascinating thing is that Japan is a total wild card. At the worst it’ll play like the other DCEU movies and make about $15m there. But it’s a princess warrior movie, and Diana’s voice is being dubbed by the woman who does Sailor Moon’s voice, which is as canny a bit of casting as ever there was. And Japan *loves* princess movies. It *could* play like a Disney princess film and make tens of millions.
It needs $873,260,195 to beat Batman vs Superman by $1.
Come on, Wondy.
(Also the director, Patty Jenkins, is reported to be just about to sign a historic deal for the sequel, with the expectation of a payday unlike anything a woman director has ever seen. Come on, Wondy! #emotions)
Or don’t, as you see fit. But if you’ve ever wondered how ordinary decent people let Nazi Germany happen, if you’ve ever thought “I would have done something, if I’d been alive back then,” well, this is how it happened, and what we do now is what we would have done then.
Hi. My name is [ ] and I’m a consitutent in [ ], zip code [ ]. I don’t need a response to this, but I do want this message passed on to my [ Senator / Congressperson ].
I’m calling to tell the Senator/Congress(person) that it is imperative that they denounce not only the Nazi gatherings in our country, but also the President of the United States, who has now openly defined himself as a white supremacist. Thoughts and prayers are, at this stage, deeply insufficient. Any action less than a full and swift removal of Donald Trump from the Presidential office is inadequate. We as Americans must be better than this, and the Senator/Congressperson, as an elected official, must stand up and say we will not tolerate fascist leadership. Every day that they delay doing so aligns them more powerfully with an authoritarian regime, and history will not be kind to those in government who do not take decisive action now.
Thank you for your time.
If you really hate talking to people on the phone, call during off-hours so you’ll get an answering machine. But call, because you can’t pull punches when you’re fighting fascists.
Sunday morning at breakfast looked like everybody at the con hotel had just gone, “…yeah, no, screw it,” and not gotten up to eat. :)
*I’d* gotten up because I wanted to go to Walter Jon Williams’ guest of honor interview, which I did (although I went into the wrong room first and was pretty torn about leaving what proved to be an astronaut’s lecture, but did anyway). The first half of it was full of what I thought were really great general questions for a writer and I wanted to be answering them! The second half got more specific about his career, but as he said at the end of the hour, “Well, that got us up to 1985, so please come to the next convention for the other half…” :)
(jedward has sorry not sorry, get down low, i dont know why, and walking the wire on his playlist. dammit, norwegian air is supposed to have wifi on board and i’m dying to be tweeting this! also he’s singing a lot to himself, just under his breath, which for some reason i find wonderful. people should sing more! also, just in case anyone wondered: he can sing.)
I bailed on the con after that because I really wanted to see a little of Helsinki without it trying to drown me. This would have been better if I had not somehow failed to put a meet-up with somebody into my calendar and forgotten about it, but she forgave me and I had a nice walk around some harbor-type thing where there were a number of trees shattered by the previous night’s storm.
My impression of Helsinki was that it has wonderfully wide streets, excellent pedestrian areas, very good public transport, amazing bike lanes, a lot of very fit, Finnish-looking people, good tap water (they’ve got signs everywhere saying “you can drink water right from the sinks!”), and a sort of vaguely creepy Bladerunner-ish (to me) corporate ubiquitousness with innumerable signs proclaiming business affiliations everywhere vibe. It felt like being in a city labeled like Nascar jumpsuits. Someone I was with said it had a post-Soviet vibe to them, which may be more accurate, but it wasn’t what came to my mind. :)
I went out to dinnner with friends and tried to find the Dead Dog party, gave up and sent one of our party ahead, then thought we HAD found it and went through a lot of contortions to contact said party member, only to find out later we’d screwed up and he’d almost been at the actual party and we’d called him back. We felt very badly. *moop* And I was a little disappointed to not get to the party because I’d wanted to say goodbye to Nicholas, at least, only as we sat around in the hotel lobby he happened to come through so I got to say bye anyway, yay. :)
Shockingly, I completely failed to get to bed early, although I’d planned to. In the morning, Carol and I packed up, went downstairs to the lobby, happened to see eBear and Scott again, and then took ourselves off to the airport, where, to cap it all off, I sat next to half of Jedward, who smelled too much of cologne. And thus ends my Worldcon 2017 report!
(Except for the pictures post I’m going to do! And anything else I remember later! :))
(Like the moment on the way to the Hugos when I muttered (or so I thought), “That is an *extremely* attractive man,” about the gentleman in front of me, who was someone else’s husband. But apparently 3 days of convention was not good for my muttering skills, because he looked over his shoulder and smiled, which was both funny and mortifying. But my *god*, he really was extremely, *extremely* attractive.)
The trouble with the first several days of Worldcon was that I was having so much fun I kept lying awake at night grinning like an idiot and keeping myself awake with happiness, which meant that although I technically went to bed about 3:15 on Saturday morning, it was tragically closer to 4 before sleep actually arrived.
And I had a 10am panel.
Frankly, my friends, I did not expect it to go well. None of us did, in fact. We were all privately agreeing that this was probably going to be a disaster, because we were just wrecked and nobody could think clearly and our voices were shot and yeah.
Surprisingly, it went REALLY WELL. Or at least we panelists thought so. :) We were talking about women writing comics and it turned out we had reasonably intelligent things to say, and we focused on our experiences with writing comics but broadened it into women artists as well, and it did seem to go well. We were very pleased. :)
Post-panel I had lunch with my friend Mika, and that was really nice. Then I caught up with Ursula and Kevin, and did an interview for Kevin’s organizational podcast, which was fun. I’ll link to it when it’s available. And it just occurs to me I didn’t actually get any pictures WITH them, which is a thing I keep failing to do. Well, next time. :)
SPEAKING OF NEXT TIME
Dublin has won the bid to host the 2019 Worldcon! I will of course be billing it as the “Come hang out with Catie!” con for the next two years, but to my delight, Diane Duane will be the guest of honor (I had a bet going with myself that she would be, and am smug to have won!) and Ian McDonald will be joining us, and it’s going to be a hell of a good party, so COME ON OVER!
I have real hopes that the core war room writers will all be able to make it, and if enough of us do, we’ll probably see about doing a panel about supporting other writers or something, which would be really neat. I’m so excited! I mean, odds were PRETTY GOOD that we were going to win (we were the only ones bidding), but I’m still unexpectedly chuffed for it to be official and to be able to say it’s time to start making real plans for getting here for it! YAY!
Anyway, during the afternoon I ran into my con-friend Margaret again, and she invited me to a little get-together off-site, which I decided would be nice to drop in to, as I wanted to get away from the con for a little while anyway. So I toddled into Helsinki and dropped by for just a little while, then went out to explore and look for dinner.
Instead I found a thunderstorm. I stopped to take a picture of it rolling in and posted on Twitter to say “thunderhead coming in over Helsinki, aka ‘soon i will be very wet'” and less than a minute later it hit. And when I say hit I mean hit. A huge wind came out of nowhere and snatched up all the grit from the roads and sidewalks and pelted into the air (and my clothes, and skin, and hair…) and some raindrops smashed down and within 90 seconds I was thoroughly damp.
And then the rain *really* started. Huge, smashing, dramatic raindrops that filled the streets in literally seconds and lightning was crashing everywhere and thunder was rolling and I still had to GET TO THE TRAM to get back to the hotel, so I went from ‘thoroughly damp’ to ‘soaked completely through’ and it was frankly exhilarating. If the amount of lightning hadn’t seemed so dangerous I might well have stayed out in it longer, but I dripped my way back to the hotel and took a shower and changed clothes completely, because literally soaked through.
By then I was brainless with hunger and it was still thundering and lighteninging, so I just ate at the hotel restaurant, but one of my friends happened upon me and joined me and we had a lovely couple hours of chatting before deciding to try to brave the celebratory Dublin 2019 partly. Although I went in with the intention of saying “Hello! Good night!” to everyone, and actually kept it. The funniest bit of that was crouching at at a table full of friends and Ian McDonald (who may have the drink taken) leaning over and roaring, “COME TO IRELAND!” at me cheerfully.
“She’s IN Ireland!” said everyone at the table.
Ian, still leaning, took this information under long and careful consideration. Long. And careful. Consideration. And then leaned slightly farther in at me and roared, “COME TO IRELAND!” again, which made us all laugh and I promised I would. (The next day I saw him and he gave me a slightly sheepish nod–I’m pretty sure he hadn’t remembered me, which is fine as it’d been quite some time since we’d last spoken, and I’ve cut my hair since then–and I thought it was all pretty funny. :))
(i’m sorry i’m typing this on the plane and a very cologne-laden young man is in the seat beside me and he took a nap and i looked over at him and i’m about 90% sure he’s half of jedward, altho his phone pictures, which he’s scrolling thru, only seem to have one blonde boy in them, but then i guess they would seem that way unless they were together in a photo and i just have to say that.)
I actually did take myself off to the room after that, but then in the great tradition of sleepovers everywhere Carol and I stayed up much too late talking (it’s the only night we did, and I’m really awfully glad we did, because great tradition of sleepovers everywhere!). We had a long and very funny discussion about Irish accents that featured Colin Farrell’s absolutely false Irish accent he uses while in America and which eventually landed on something that clarified a Thing About Irish English to me!
So Irish people are forEEEEVER saying they’ll be there in two minutes. Two. Always two. And they’re never ever ever there in two minutes. Ever. So! It turns out there’s an Irish word, cúpla, that means “a few”, and that because it sounds like “couple” there’s a kind of slide from Irish to English on that word which means that if you ask an Irish person if they want a couple cookies and they say yes, they then think you’re really kind of stingy if they only get TWO cookies.
But! I am now convinced that when Irish people say they’ll be there in two minutes, they’re moving *back* on that transliterative (is that the right word? it’ll do) slide, and what they really mean is cúpla, and that they’ll be there in a few minutes.
THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE!
(oh shit yeah no there’s pictures of both of them, it is half of jedward!!!)
Anyway, we went to bed after that except then I was still giddy and I was remembering that Kari and Camille and I had discussed cosplaying Josie & the Pussycats for Dublin 2019 and I had to post on Twitter to ask if other people kept themselves awake at night thinking that obviously it would be totally reasonable to actually learn to play the guitar and do a tribute concert at the con and then because it was clearly terribly important RIGHT THEN, trying to remember the words to Ballroom Blitz…
…or if it was just me that thought that way. :)
(Kari said it wasn’t just me but I did understand that I was Josie, right? And I was like yes, I did, although I wasn’t sure I was vocally up for that because Camille’s amazing and Kari’s Welsh, so, y’know, obvs. :))
The astute among you may notice that Worldcon is over but I’m only just posting Day Three. This is due to a combination of things, firstly that in a fit of idiocy (fun, but idiocy) I was out until 3am Friday night/Saturday morning and was not prepared to write a blog post at that time, and secondly and far more annoyingly, that I wrote this whole damn post up last night, telling myself all the while that I needed to C&P it because it wasn’t going to post properly, and of course I forgot to copy it and then, as predicted, it didn’t post properly, and I lost everything I’d written and it was midnight so screw that noise.
“BATMAN,” said my roommate Carol, loudly and clearly, as her opening salvo of the morning, “was having to investigate a murder on Coronation Street…” Then she fell back asleep for 2 minutes & dreamed I’d insisted she prove she liked my books by licking the side of my face, as a true fan would. NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT LICK MY FACE (or any other part of me unless so invited. O.O)
I got to exactly zero panels on Friday; it was a BarCon day. I had breakfast with eBear and Scott and met a couple of their friends who were very cool, then dashed off to meet Kari for our scheduled morning gossip, which was somewhat thwarted by circumstances. I bobbled around and got a few more signatures in my autograph book, and met Kari and others for lunch instead, which was lovely. Oh, and went around the art show and met a couple of editors, which is always good. :) And I plunked down and a few people came over to say hi and I had a lovely chat with some readers, so that was really nice too.
I also met the most ADORABLE baby Wonder Woman, who was about 6 months old and overwhelmed/wide-eyed at all the noise and people, but when I greeted her she gave me an enormous toothless smile and I was totally charmed. :)
Then, because I had been inside for well over 24 hours at that point, and sitting for most of that time, I took myself on a little walk and found that Finland also has what we call Alaska cotton, which made me happy and now that I’m thinking about it I might go out and pick some tomorrow before I have to leave. (Now it is tomorrow and I doubt that’s going to happen, but oh well. What would I do with it anyway?)
And Then We Went To The Hugos!
I’d never been before, and had a lot of fun. My roommate was the stand-in to collect an award if it was won, so she invited me as her plus one, so I got to do all the shiny things associated with that. (I’d seen Adrian Tchaikovsky earlier in the day and asked if he was going. He said he hoped so, but he had to stand in line amongst the hoi polloi to see if he got in. I said I was fancy and had a ticket, and he said he would tug his forelock in accordance to his lowly station if he saw me. :))
The pre-Hugos reception didn’t have very much food (because of course it didn’t) and so after a while of talking to people–like the nice man pictured here–I went out to the food court and got…kebab. Messy sloppy kebab. (And Adrian saw me, and tugged his forelock!) I took the sloppy kebab into the reception hall and ate it VERY CAREFULLY (I dripped some on my shoe) and people took pictures of me eating kebab in my fancy dress and SEVERAL PEOPLE came over and asked, rather desperately, where I had gotten that, and were tragically dismayed to hear I’d gone and bought it in the food court. :) (The food court was very expensive but surprisingly good. All of the food I had from it was real food of quite decent quality.)
I thought the Hugos ceremony was very well run, and of course particularly enjoyed the bits where my friends won. I was disappointed, but not surprised, that Clipping (Daveed Diggs’ group) didn’t win, and delighted when the best editor award winner, Liz Grovinsky, was so rattled she forgot to get her award. There were some excellent speeches, more than one of which made me cry, and then there was also Ursula Vernon’s speech where she told everybody about whalefall because it’s really cool. :)
AND THEN WE WENT TO THE HUGO LOSERS PARTY
We ended up, through sheer good fortune, in the same shuttle van that brought GRRM himself, Nalo Hopkinson & her husband/partner/extremely nice man who was with her, and I think Ellen Datlow and Pat Cadigan, maybe, so we arrived in rather elite company. Beforehand we stood around and complained about high heels (“If only men wore them,” I said, “they wouldn’t be part of formal wear for very damn long. Of course, if it was the 16th century, men WOULD have been wearing them.”
And then a complete stranger came up and said, “Well, it used to be that men were the ones who wore high heels,” and I was like, “That is literally exactly what I just said” and he did, at least, apologize. For God’s sake. Anyway.)
The party was great fun! I talked with Nalo & the Extremely Charming Man (I really do think he’s her husband, and I know his name, but as he’s not mentioned on, like, her Wiki page, I’m inclined to leave his name to himself as his own business) for a bit, and re-introduced myself (for about the 3rd time, but as he said, “I don’t remember anyone who isn’t wearing a name tag,” and I have no expectation of BEING remembered) to GRRM, and met a Chinese editor who said, “Write SF, we’ll translate it,” which seems like an excellent plan, and I got to have a good chat with some Irish friends, and met some new people, and–oh, this was funny. I’d taken a picture of Ursula in her Loser’s Hat and posted it to Twitter, and a Tor editor (that I don’t even know personally!) in the States said “Oooh is Liz in a Loser’s Hat, can you get a picture!” so I did, all within about 3 minutes, and she was delighted and I was delighted and it was pretty funny and fun. :)
I went over to talk to Charlie Stross, who it turned out was on his way out the door (I swear, I talked to him 4 times for 45 seconds each over the entire week, which was not an ideal conversation vector!), so I ended up sitting down with Nicholas and another of the actual Hugo losers, and a couple of Nicholas’s work colleagues who were SF fans but had never heard of fandom and who were apparently having THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES, and next thing we knew it was 2:30am & I’d accidentally kicked Nicholas, who was so tired he didn’t notice until I apologized, so I said it was time for him to take me home (we were at the same hotel) and he did. We capped the night off with a Jamesons at the hotel bar, and I got to sleep around 3:30am.