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Hello I’m Deeply Annoyed For Technical Reasons

The technical reasons being my laptop not being able to find Delta’s wifi when I have a Big Idea to post. As a consequence a Big Idea post will be going up in the afternoon (I usually do them in the morning). Sky internet why are you so problematic.

Aside from that I’ll be scarce around here this weekend as I am visiting friends who I’ve not seen in a couple of years and they take priority. I hope you understand. Even if you don’t, I’ll still do my thing.

How is your Friday? Got any book/TV/movie/music/other entertainment recommendations? Given the state of the world at the moment, I think people would be happy to have a break suggested to them.

— JS

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

51 replies on “Hello I’m Deeply Annoyed For Technical Reasons”

It’s not new by any means, but I’m currently obsessed with Riddley Walker, a literary postapocalyptic sf novel whose schtick is that the entire thing is written in the far-future dialect that its characters speak, so half the work of reading it is figuring out what they’re even talking about, and inferring things about the world’s history from how the language and folk tales have changed. It’s pretty cool.

Also if you’re having trouble with airport wifi, and it’s related to the captive-portal negotiation and not just not being able to find the radio/SSID at all, try going to http://neverssl.com, which can help sort that out.

If you’re the sort of person who avoids things because suddenly everyone seems to be saying great things about it – I’ve been known to do that when I’m in the wrong mood, set it aside for the Reacher series on Amazon Prime.

It’s amazing. Borderline brilliant. However, if sudden violence is an issue, avoid it. And while most of the time the violence isn’t particularly gory, there are several “walk in on the crime scene” gore that go well beyond anything I’ve seen on TV, so be warned about that.

If you want delightfully silly, I tripped over the Space Team series by Barry Hutchison, especially the audio versions read by Phil Thron.

Comparisons to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams are not off the mark. Delightful.

After going to a spate of movies between the Delta and Omicron COVID outbreaks, I’m not really up on what’s new or current.

My latest news is that for my 65th birthday (yay, Medicare! No Social Security yet) my main desktop PC decided to hawk out a hairball and stop working. I took it to a local computer repair place where they told me it’s going to be $200 to replace the power supply (not a difficult job generally, but in this case my three-year old Dell gaming PC needs a nonstandard-sized one!) – whee.

Two-thirds done with Saad Hossain’s “Cyber Mage” and need to get back to Season Two of “The Witcher.”

Would like to play some “World of Tanks,” but, funny how I’m not feeling it.

If you are looking for book recommendations for younger readers, may I suggest taking a look at the California Young Reader Medal nominees? http://www.californiayoungreadermedal.org

The 21-22 and 22-23 nominees have some stand-out novels that, while written for younger readers, deal with a lot of mature themes and have outstanding writing. In particular, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise (Gemeinhart), The Canyon’s Edge (Bowling) and A Heart in a Body in the World (Caletti) are excellent.

If you are looking for some modern YA science fiction, Lion of Mars (Holm), We’re Not From Here (Rodkey) and Stowaway (Anderson) are excellent. Stowaway in particular feels like it could almost take place in a corner of the Old Man’s War universe.

Just finished reading Jeevani Charika’s Playing For Love, which was a sweet, fun contemporary romance in which the heroine wins a chance to enter a gaming competition alongside a YouTube gamer that she has a huge crush on, not realizing that the guy at work who has a crush on her is that gamer.

It was just the right level of light-hearted fun and things eventually working out, and my brain really needed that right now.

Thirding Reacher. We started it last night and I’m pleasantly surprised and enjoying it. There is some fairly graphic violence at at least one of the murder scenes but it fits with the story, so it’s not entirely unexpected.

Most of my reading lately has been cookbooks, but one that is almost as much story as recipe is “Black Food: Stories, Art, And Recipes from Across the Black Diaspora” – even if you never cook from it, it’s worth getting for the dozens of essays, poems, prayers, and bits and pieces.

Thanks for the invitation to suggestion fun media, John. I’m aware that the state of the world requires attention and perhaps action, but managing stress is also essential. My recent fun:

The Witcher. First I watched Season 1, then I read all the books, then I watched Season 2. My favorite, really, was the two books of short stories.
For All Mankind. Perhaps too on-the-nose with the current international tension, but nonetheless validated my childhood memories of playing with Astronaut GI Joe and his disappointingly inaccurate Mercury capsule.
Ted Lasso. Not a sports guy here but I still loved this show.
Detectorists. If a slow-burning British bromance is your thing, this is for you.
Somebody Somewhere. I’ve been living on the Left Coast for so long I’d forgotten that mostly likely people are the same everywhere.
Hacks. Will probably watch this again before the next season comes out.
Parallel Mothers. My favorite Almodovar movie since Volver.

Looking forward to reading others’ tips. :-)

Oh, strong second for “For All Mankind” and “Ted Lasso”.

If you liked “For All Mankind”, you might also enjoy “Away”, which has a similar flavor. But it looks like that may have gotten cancelled after one season, so consider whether you want to start an unconsummatable relationship with a new show.

I hit the same issue last couple of times I flew on Delta. It does work when I get onto the Wifi on my Android phone, and when I did some Google searches, there were hints that on a ChromeOS laptop, installing the Chrome for Android application (so you’re running the Android version of Chrome using ChromeOS’s Android emulation layer — bear with me), and then requesting the mobile website version of the captive portal page fixed things.

I did have a ChromeOS laptop, but it requires WiFi to install the Android Chrome application, so that wasn’t going to work for me.

What did work for me was enabling the hotspot function on my Phone, and then sharing either using WiFi or using USB. I used “share my network using USB” so I could charge my phone from the laptop while it was providing networking to my laptop (to my Linux laptop, it looked like a USB-attached networking device).

A couple of books for weekend or in/flight reading:

Battle of the Linguist Mages
It’s about linguist mages who battle using linguist mage linguistics. And unorthodox punctuation.

Or the previous one by the same author:
Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You
The title is a spoiler. I guess that’s the case for both.

In a notably different vein (engaging one’s higher faculties, you might say) I’d mention Bo-Young Kim’s short stories. For some reason two collections came out more or less side-by-side, “I’m Waiting For You” and “The Origin of Species.” The backstory to the title story of the former is remarkable.

Just finished Zen Cho’s “The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected In Water”, which was delightful and laugh-out-loud funny. Now reading “Plum Duff” (the latest in the “Greenwing and Dart” series) by Victoria Goddard, who remains one of my favorite fantasy authors currently writing…

Just finished the series finale of “The Detectorists” that ran on the BBC.

It’s quirky, but not way out there quirky. Very, very wholesome–so much so you don’t even bother skipping the intro, because even that’s a delight.

Three seasons available on IMDBTv and Amazon Prime, highest recommendation!

Some general recommendations:

Books:
– The Axis of Time trilogy by John Birmingham. A naval task force from 2021 is tossed back to the year 1942 and there’s no going home. What do they do to survive? How do they change the history of WWII and the world by their presence.

Islands in the Sea of Time (Trilogy) by S.M. Stirling. The island of Nantucket and all it’s residents are tossed back in time to around 1250s B.C.

These two series obviously have a theme here, but are so good. Both authors dig deep here to tell epic stories. Two of my all-time favorites.

Series:
– Mythic Quest (Apple TV): A very funny series about a team of game developers. But I list it because it’s more than just a comedy. There’s some nice depth here and every character just shines.

For All Mankind (Apple TV): An alternate history show asking, what if the Russians beat us to the moon in 1969? This show is a perfect blend of space exploration and great character driven drama.
Vikings Valhalla (Netflix): I have not watches this as it only posted today on Feb 25th. But I loved the original series Vikings. This is made by the same people. Again, a wonderful epic story about the Vikings. Large characters, sweeping drama, some fantastic battle scenes, etc… Very excited to watch this new iteration.

Gaming (I’m adding this, as it’s very relaxing to me):
– Lone Echo (and Lone Echo II): These are two VR games that I play on my Quest 2 headset, though I believe they require a VR-Ready gaming PC. I’ve finished the first and just started the second. It’s an amazing science fiction story. You are a worker robot on a mining ship out in the orbit of Saturn. The visuals are mind-blowing. Looking out on Saturn and her rings and you look out a window or float around your ship. It’s shows the possibilities of this technology.

Goodness, there is so much great media out there. I could go on and on. Thanks for posing the question. We are all busy in life and yes the current news is disheartening but we do all need to find something that can lower our stress at times.

Lymis, gotta disagree with you on the “not particularly gory” thing about REACHER. In fact, I would give it a “very gory” WARNING for one scene involving nails.

Otherwise, highly recommended.

My Friday has been busy and productive so far, which is nice as it has kept me awake after a very long week.

As a matter of fact, I do have a recommendation for a source of entertainment. One of the multiple excellent theaters in my city is putting on the world premier of a brand-new Quan Barry play called “The Mytilenean Debate,” which promises to be absolutely stellar for multiple reasons. As a consequence of the pandemic, the company has started selling tickets to online performances as well as in-person shows for all their plays, so even if you are not local, you can still be a part of this event.

As a side note, at the peak of the pandemic, this small regional theater company was responsible for an astonishing percentage of the total Actors Equity contracts in the entire US. They commit to paying their actors and production crew a living wage, and they’re doing great work in equity and diversity. So in addition to being entertained, you can support a very worthwhile arts organization.

https://forwardtheater.com/show/the-mytilenean-debate

Hope you get your technical issues sorted soon, and have fun with your friends!

My Friday is going fine. I’m working from home because Mother Nature decided that after temperatures in the 60s-70s on Wednesday that we needed to cool down with 8-12 inches of snow today.

For book recommendations I recently picked back up my read of Discworld. I’m (slowly) making my way through the series, I’m on book 16/41 (Soul Music.)

I recommend “Resident Alien” which is now on its second season on SyFy. Low key story about an alien (Alan Tudyk) stranded in a small town where he tries to fit in after having making himself look like a human. Not 100% a comedy but sometimes very funny (some of Tudyk’s inner monologues are very similar to Korvo’s from “Solar Opposites”), and with great character works from all the actors. Special mention for the excellent female characters, and the inclusive cast which is never mentioned or pointed out, it’s simple there.

All in all, an extremers enjoyable mix of comedy and drama/soap, a small community with some weird characters, and a general cozy feeling, despite some murders/attempted murders/Earth-demolishing plans :)

The wife and I are just about to leave for your neck of the woods. We’re headed to Oxford to hike at Hueston Woods. Been a long time since we’ve had personal time together. What’s a good locally owned restaurant to get dinner?

Astrid and Lilly Save the World on SyFy is a delightful lighthearted fantasy show. That and Resident Alien have been my go to “comedies” so far this year.

Thanks for putting the question out there, Scalzi. Lot of good recos although I’m familiar with many. I have been a fan of the Lee Childs Jack Reacher books since the 3rd or 4th one, and was so utterly disappointed when the studio heads decided to go with the big movie star (well, not big in the 6’5″ 250lb Reacher sense) Tom Cruise. This new nobody guy is great and fits the book Reacher much more closely that that awful Scientologist mini-Reacher!

Anyway, the new Ben Stiller show on Apple TV+ “Severance” is cray cray! You gotta get on that!

We recently enjoyed ‘The King’s Man’ (unexpectedly serious treatment of WWI along with expected high entertainment level and showcase for Ralph Fiennes) and ‘Free Guy’ (Groundhog Day meets The Truman Show with a dash of The Matrix; I found it very funny and rather sweet).

The after party on AppleTV. Funny and quirky dark murder mystery.
Lots of good suggestions from others, I can’t recommend for all mankind enough as others have posted about already

I’ve been watching Movies With Mikey on the FilmJoy YouTube channel. Mikey only does positive reviews, which is lovely when you are stressing over gestures vaguely.

If you’re looking for an episode to start with, I recommend Nihilism & Howl’s Moving Castle (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V21vjxH8VE) or A Eulogy for Batman & Robin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xTSDmkj7ok). The former is just absolutely lovely, and the latter is a “Bad Movie” chosen for him by the audience, which he still manages to review in a positive way, making it lovely in its own way.

Things are so dark, I’ve been rewatching season one of “Resident Alien” on SyFy, amazed at Alan Tudyk’s brilliance all over again. Also reading Ursula Vernon aka T. Kingfisher. If you’re a fan of Terry Pratchett, you’ll love her work. Same combination of humor and depth, pathos and beauty. Try Swordheart, or the Clockwork Boys, or any of her novels loosely based on fairy tales (The Seventh Bride; Bryony and Roses). As with Pratchett, both her works for adults and for young adults (A Minor Mage; A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking) are incredible, perfect for all ages.

Severance. Apple+. Though that’s likely to really amp up the dark factor.

Now that the final volume is out, reading The Expanse novels. Yes, I do that. I won’t start a series until it is finished. Memory like a steel sieve.

Cat Burglar new on Netflix is a laugh. It’s a new Tex Avery/Tom and Jerry style cartoon from Charlie Brooker where the quite literal cartoon violence is punctuated by questions you answer with your remote control that determine the outcome.

If you enjoy YA books, I really strongly recommend both Elatsoe and A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger, which are both wonderful in their own right and also a still all too uncommon examples of Ace representation. (Briefly mentioned in Elatsoe, unmentioned at all in A Snake).

There’s the classic Young Wizards series by the amazing and lovely Diane Duane.

Sarah Gailey’s work is all amazing, but When We Were Magic stands out even in that brilliant field. I cried so very much, mostly happy tears. (CW, the catalysing event at the start of the book as So Much Blood and may be deeply discomforting for a lot of folks).

TV wise, I’ve just finished enjoying the hell out of Star Trek: Prodigy. Like the best YA fiction, you don’t have to still be YA to appreciate it. It’s not perfect, but nearly all the bits where it doesn’t quite pull off what it’s reaching for are because it was reaching for the moon, and it pulls it off sometimes. Looking forward to the rest of ‘season 1’, which is more ‘cour 2’ for those that get the anime industry reference.

Shetland has been recommended up-thread at least once, and if you are a fan of British police procedurals it is wonderful but also can get very very dark at times. Beforeigners season 1 was also great and played with a lot of very interesting time-travel possibilities. For US procedurals I really enjoyed all 7 seasons of Bosch, which also has a great cast. The one-and-done British ‘season of 6 episodes or so’ of River was brilliant, does some utterly unexpected twists and had amazing writing and acting. Wonderful and IMHO very respectful neurodivergent representation, final reveal may or may not be too heartbreaking for some. Stellan Skarsgård and Nicola Walker supply amazing performances.

If you are into procedurals that get very, very dark then the Welsh production Hinterland/Y Gwyll is amazing but goes into some very ugly and bloody wounds. I strongly recommend the dual English/Welsh version, in part because Welsh is a beautiful language to listen to and in part because it really throws the (non-Welsh-speaking) lead character’s isolation into sharp relief. May be a bit too Man Pain’y for some and far too dark for others, or just plain too triggering for many. [CW: contains institutional historical child abuse.]

For the first time ever I was scrolling through “Whatwitter” and got the following message:

“See more Tweets from John Scalzi
When you log in you’ll be able to see every Tweet from John Scalzi.”

I don’t have an account and really don’t want one. I understand that’s how Twitter makes money, but sad that I won’t be able to occasionally read your tweets which are entertaining. Cheers.

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