Chapter 3 initial draft is done and in my advisor's mail box!!

There are holes. There are weak spots in the argument. There are probably typos and incomplete sentences and other stupid nonsense because I never proofread it even once. I don't care. It is done. It is 54 pages which means step one of revising will be figuring out what to cut so I can fill all the holes without having a 65 or 70 page chapter, but it is drafted.

Tomorrow I'm doing my taxes (so glad the IRS had a holiday Friday thus extending the deadline to Monday or I don't know what I would have done), paying bills, doing laundry, and otherwise taking care of the adult crap that has to be taken care of that I have let slide in the past few weeks thanks to illness, extension and adjunct applications, stress, and the chapter from hell. After that, I'm taking it easy this week. There will be movie watching and novel reading. There will be Night Manager post writing (I promise!). There will be hiking and going to the gym again. There will be playing of board games. There will be cleaning my office from all the papers and books thrown everywhere in the last few frantic writing days and packing up of chapter 2 & 3 only sources and unpacking of chapter 4 & 5 only sources done while either listening to (and singing and dancing along with) music or BBC Radio programs. Yeah, that last is sort of work, but I have a dissertation to finish and a PhD to earn. I don't have the luxury of a whole week entirely off and it doesn't really count as work.
Dr Strange -Tea

Quick Bits o' News

I made it through today without a full nap! I had to rest for a bit, bit no actual nap. That's a first since the kidney infection really hit late Saturday. The pain is pretty small now, mostly a tightness and low ache in my right back. Keeping heat on it seems to help but trying to find a position in which I can type that is good for my wrists / arms (tendonitis / carpal tunnel issues), my back and neck (generally slouching and straining issues), and keeping the heating pad in place is proving a bit difficult.
EDIT: Pain has started seriously increasing in my back again and spreading around to my front and side. It isn't as bad as it was Saturday night, but it's getting up there and certainly worse than it has been in the past couple days by far. My seven-day antibiotic treatment started Sunday and runs out on Saturday so I really think it shouldn't still be this bad and maybe the infection is worse than urgent care thought or isn't responding right to the antibiotics or something. I'm at the very least calling my regular health center tomorrow before they close for the weekend to see what they think.

Pop Culture Squees

Night Manager: Finished it, finally. Really enjoyed it. Very different ending from the book that I think helped some with my feeling of being tired of using the deaths of and violence toward people of color as backdrops for yet another white man's story but maybe made things a bit worse than the book for using the deaths of and violence towards white woman as backdrops for yet another white man's story. I'll try to do a full post on all my Night Manager thoughts in more detail sometime next week. Just don't have the time right now.

Star Wars: Have you seen the Rogue One trailer!? OMG! So awesome!

Dr. Strange: Supposedly the first trailer is coming next week. Can't wait! The pics of Cumberbatch and Ejiofor in costume that have been popping up have been fantastic. Loved this one of Cumberbatch in a comic book store with The Oath, a.k.a. the comic in which there are repeated jokes about Dr. Strange being Sherlock Holmes that was written years before Cumberbatch was cast as either Strange or Sherlock. That said, as much as I'm loving the costume pics generally, why is Strange not wearing gloves? His hands are badly scarred and he wears gloves all the time to cover them. If you're going to have him without gloves, there needs to be scars. Not in the comic book store, but in the official character pics and the pictures from filming, there should either be gloves or scars and I'm not seeing either. Yes, I'm apparently going to be that kind of fan. Well, not really. I rant about it briefly like now then shrug and move on. I take it all back. Found a bigger version of the pic (changed the link to it) and his hands look like they are scarred. I'm OK.

Sherlock: Speaking of... so I guess Cumberbatch is jumping straight from wrapping Strange to Sherlock as they announced that Series 4 started filming when Cumberbatch was still wandering the streets of NYC as Strange. Yay, Sherlock!

Whatever my advisor gets on Monday, it is guaranteed to not be a fully complete chapter. Oh well. I've updated him on the situation and am doing the best I can. I almost feel like the draft I give him should have post it notes on it saying something like:

Part 1: Written before kidney infection

Part 2: Initially written in mad brain dump at home on my couch with heating pad pressed into my side and back and no sources or notes other than my previously created outline of the chapter in between frequent naps in first few days of kidney infection

Part 2A: Section of Part 2 I've had time to flesh out with sources and maybe even put in full sentences in last few days before deadline

Part 2B: Yeah... maybe don't read this. I'll have the cleaned up version to you in... how about the 4 full days I lost to the kidney infection before being well enough to even do the mad brain dump?

Ideally, he won't actually be able to tell the difference between Part 1 and Part 2A on his own, but there will be no mistaking Part 2B. Oh well.
Bratty - drum

Name the Songs from the Lyrics Meme

Killing time while waiting for some programs to update on my computer so I can get to dissertation writing for the day. Decided to steal this meme from qwentoozla. I've done it before but I don't remember if any of the songs are repeats. I went with the first couple lines from each song no matter what, even though there's at least 3 where the song name is in the first lines.

Step 1: Put your iPod on shuffle.
Step 2: Post a line from the first 30 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song.
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist (or show :P) the lines come from.
Step 4: Don't check the comments first if you don't want to be be spoiled!
Step 5: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING!

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Stack of Books

Night Manager, Shades of Magic, Dissertation

I'm caught back up on Night Manager. I'm enjoying it. I promise I'll get back to my moral dilemma post at some point and hopefully more thoughts on the series overall. Maybe when it ends. Or when I magically find more hours in the day.

Anyone reading V. E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series? Second book just came out and I'm undecided how I feel about it and would love to hear others' thoughts if anyone has read it. The series is about parallel worlds with different levels of magic, the handful of people who can move between them, mostly via places in Londons since the only guarantee is that they all have a London with a river, and the consequences of crossing between the worlds. I kind of think the second book was a good adventure story with lots of character development and I had a lot of fun while reading it, but I was also left feeling a bit disappointed because almost nothing happened to move the plot forward for the overarching storyline of the trilogy. It felt like a placeholder / killing time, but it was a really fun placeholder.

This dissertation chapter is never going to end! Last week I got a lot of great writing done. Problem is that large chunks of it weren't on my outline. For example, I spent two days hunting for a letter that was supposedly in a couple different document collection but every source I had that mentioned it gave a wrong location. I finally found it and expected to use it for one quick sentence, but it turned out aI found something in it that I don't think anyone else has discussed correctly so I ended up writing five pages of close analysis of it in comparison to other documents, what others have missed with it, and how that all fits into my overall argument. Really good stuff! But not in my plan and I have neither the time nor pages to keep deviating from the plan at this point. The chapter is already likely to be over 50 pages. Ugh!

To try to cut down on the deviations and adding too much detail, yesterday I shoved everything off my desk but the outline for the remaining stuff I need to write and I wrote a version of it all based just on what was in my head. The first part is OK and followed the outline pretty closely. Then I started hitting places where the argument wouldn't quite flow as outlined so I rearranged on the fly and kept writing. By the end of the day, I was rather brain dead so it gets very choppy and more like two half sentences saying the basics of what each paragraph should say, but it's done. Now I'm planning to spend the next few days filling in the holes: adding the details and evidence and sources, elaborating where needed, etc. Only problem is I wanted the finished product to be around 10 pages and my version with a billion holes is already a little over 10 pages. Oh well. It'll get done and should go pretty quickly since I've got the structure in place. I've got the argument and all the pieces and they flow so now I don't have to do heavy thinking, just grabbing the articles, books, and documents I know go in each section and plugging in details. Whatever I have Sunday night / Monday morning (or sooner) is getting printed and tossed in my advisor's box.
Indy I B

A Night Manager Moral Dilemma

A week or two ago, I went with a friend to the movies. A trailer for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, the new comedy with Tina Fey and Martin Freeman about a reporter in Afghanistan, came on. When the trailer ended, I sort of sighed and whispered to my friend that I had nothing against the movie in particular but I'm just tired of and done with movies that use the deaths of People of Color as backdrop or props to tell yet another white person's story. Today, out of nowhere, it suddenly popped into my head that that's exactly what Night Manager is. I'm still grappling with how I feel about this and that it took me so long to realize it. The fact I've had a headache all day (actually 3 days now) and took forever to write this post as I had to keep stopping to close my eyes and rest my head probably hasn't helped any.

On the one hand, Night Manager literally will be using the deaths of People of Color as backdrop to tell the stories of some white people, and already has been. It's impossible to get away from that reality and there is far too much of that in our society and it is damaging in aggregate and it needs to stop. The only way I can influence making it stop is to not consume it. Sticking to my morals should mean walking away from this.

On the other hand, there's a lot of reasons to not walk away. I have been looking forward to this for so long. I loved the book. I love the cast. The first episode was amazing. I am excited about this and I've got so much stress in my life right now that I need something that excites me. Also, unlike the light romantic comedy feel of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, this is itself dealing with the hard issues. [Minor spoiler but not really for the first episode follows]: Pine's speech about how being an English man seeing another English man selling weapons that will be used to oppress and kill People of Color makes it his duty to try to stop it, if nothing else, demonstrates that, but is also in itself a problematic invocation of the white knight saving the poor others incapable of saving themselves to a degree. [End minor spoiler]. I don't think it is inherently wrong to ever have a story set in a predominantly not white part of the world or not white situation like the US Civil Rights Movement that is told from the perspective of white people. There are white people involved in these situations and they do have stories that can be told. There just also need to be stories from the perspective (both in story terms and in terms of writers, directors, etc.) of the People of Color most directly affected and there should be more of those. Maybe something like we've currently got 90% white people stories and 10% People of Color but those numbers need to be reversed. Maybe Night Manager is in the 10% of white stories that I find worthy of telling and I just need to make sure that in addition to watching it I seek out more of the few stories that do exist from the point of view of the People of Color involved to get at least my personal consumption balance to have closer to the right 10/90 split.

Back to the first hand: That feels like I'm comprising on a moral issue and seeking any justification possible for that just because I like something. Maybe I have to admit there is no moral principle for me here and I was just getting on a high horse with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot because I didn't think it looked interesting and I could pretend there was something more at stake.

Back to the second hand: I've long maintained with all media that there is an equation to consider between what the art or whatever asks of the audience and what it gives back in return. To go with a classic example: from a modern perspective, there is sexism in every single one of Shakespeare's plays. As a modern feminist, I have to put emotional and intellectual labor into working past or reading against that sexism. When watching or listening to a recent production, I always hope that the people on and behind the stage or whatever have done some of that labor for me and not forced me to bear the entire burden alone, though that's not always the case. The question for me is always one of "Is what the work gives back to me worth the emotional and intellectual labor I am required to put in?" With Shakespeare, for things like Hamlet and Othello, the answer for me on both the sexism and racism fronts has always been a resounding "Yes!" They demand some work from me, but what they give back is far more. For Taming of the Shrew and Merchant of Venice, the answer has always been "Nope." They demand too much of me and give me back nothing that is at all worth it. Maybe that's my answer here too. I do have a moral principle involved that does matter to me but Night Manager gives me enough to be worth the work but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot doesn't seem like it would. It's just far easier for me as a white woman to make that call with a clean conscience on issues of sexism than it is on issues of racism and, again, am I just seeking to justify something I sort of find morally problematic because I like it.

I just don't know.

Please note: I don't mean to judge anyone else in any way. I wouldn't mind starting a conversation about this with y'all lovely intelligent people as I value your thoughts and opinions. I am absolutely not saying I have the answers (clearly) or am trying to tell someone else what to do or even claim that the moral call I'm grappling with here is the right question and that everyone should grapple with it. It's a complicated world and if some or all of y'all have absolutely no problems with Night Manager on the issues I've raised, that's totally fine.
Stack of Books

Night Manager Episode 1

I have an online meeting at 10:30. It is required for my funding this year and I hate it. 10:30 is the worst possible time for me. I usually write best in the mornings, say 9:30 to lunch. If I start at 9:30, I'll barely get going before the 10:30 meeting interrupts but then it isn't over until basically lunch time. So on days when we have these stupid meetings, which are a waste of time as they just feel like babysitting with all of us on the money promising that we really are working on our dissertations, I get no real writing done. I'll spend the afternoon organizing stuff for tomorrow morning's writing and fixing previously written stuff, which is what I usually do in the afternoons anyway, so the entire day isn't wasted, just the new writing part which is really the most important part. *sigh*

On the plus side, I think we're only doing 3 of these meetings this semester, which is less than last, so yay! On the other plus side, I have about an hour to kill this morning in which I can write a post squeeing about The Night Manager!

For anyone who doesn't know, this is an adaptation of a John le Carre spy novel from the early 1990s and stars Tom Hiddleston (our spy hero), Hugh Laurie (our bad guy), and Olivia Colman (our spy hero's puppet master and red tape cutter). It's going to be 6 parts airing on BBC starting last night. It will officially come to America in April, I think.

When I first heard they were doing the adaptation, I mentioned it on Facebook and a friend of mine whose opinion on these matters should be given a great deal of weight, commented that Night Manager was a phenomenal novel up there with le Carre's best. Based on that, I had to read the book and my friend was not kidding. It is absolutely amazing and I've been excitedly awaiting the adaptation ever since. The first episode last night did not disappoint at all. It was definitely a first episode of a long miniseries with the few slow moments and rough patches as all the players are introduced and put into position. It was a very good first episode, I just anticipate later episodes being better. In particular, I'm looking forward to the increased interaction between Hiddleston and Laurie, the moments when Laurie's character's charming facade drops completely, and an increased role for Olivia Colman whose character in the book was a man, a change which won't matter for the plot but might for characterization and which makes my feminist soul very happy.

I've been reading a few articles on the adaptation process and especially on the changes they've made to update the early 1990s to today. The novel begins in the mid East, then includes a few short digressions and a long one to Canada, before settling in for the most important action in Latin America and the drug wars there. The TV series started in the same place so very little has changed for the first episode. The only real difference thus far (aside from the gender swap) is that our spy hero's military background is serving in the mid East rather than Ireland. I know that later it is going to change a lot more with the Canada section completely gone and all the action returned to the mid East rather than Latin American drug wars. I fully expect the changes to work well for updating the story but not change the important themes and character interactions at all.

There have been a couple of articles about this whole adapting and updating process that are fantastic, unsurprisingly given their authors. First, John le Carre wrote an article for the Guardian about his thoughts on his work being adapted generally and on the changes here specifically. He seems pleased with the changes (almost as excited as me about Colman rather than a man) so that's always promising. Second, Tom Hiddleston wrote for RadioTimes with his thoughts on updating spying from Cold War to drug wars to today and how privacy and secrecy have and haven't changed. Both articles are fascinating takes on the creative processes involved here but I think should be interesting even if you aren't interested specifically in this adaptation. Plus, they are articles by le Carre and Hiddleston not interviews with them so the chance to see the creative and intellectual process of two people who appear to be both very smart and very good at what they do, which is always cool in my book.
Tonks - Confused

Board Games, Organizing, and Wait, Where Did THAT Come From?

I love my board and card games. There are times I wonder if I like organizing them and making inserts and tuckboxes and the like for them at least as much as actually playing them. I've always just kind of built an insert when the mood struck, but I decided this weekend to go through every box and decide if it's ok as is, needs organization that I can do in a few minutes so I do it, or needs a full insert that will take a couple hours (or more) to plot out and build so I add it to a list. It's been fun. :) Then I hit a snag. When I opened my copy of a small box card game (Coup for anyone familiar with it) I discovered some alt art and promo cards that I don't remember ever owning. It is possible I got them at some point and just forgot, but I'm skeptical of that. I wonder if my copy got swapped with someone else's at my big group meetup. I've sent a message to the main organizer asking if anyone has mentioned missing their promo cards, but now I'm wondering if I should do something with my games to mark them. The ones I have custom inserts in and the like are pretty obviously mine, but maybe I should get a stack of business cards to toss in every box or tape to the inside of the lid or something so I can quickly check. That won't stop pieces from migrating from one copy to another or just getting lost, but then at least I'd know if a game box was mine or not.
Star Wars - Shiny Guy

Woah! Scalia's dead!?

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reportedly died today and there's enough sources now that I'm thinking it's true. This is HUGE. This is beyond massive for US politics and the next few months of an already CRAZY election season are about to get even crazier.

EDIT: Definitely true. Oh God the political junkie part of my brain has gone into overdrive and I desperately want to talk about this with someone! So many thoughts! I guess my condolences for those who knew him and liked or loved him. For my personal opinion... if Obama manages to get a successor confirmed by the Senate (tricky) or a Democrat wins the Presidential election in Novemeber, this will only mean good things for the nation except possibly on the Fourth Amendment (search and seizure).

Saga of the Poptarts

In the spirit of "Hi! I'm back! I'm going to post more, comment more, and generally be around more, I promise!" have a silly and pointless tale:

I have an office on the third floor of my university's library. I almost always bring my lunch from home and that's usually fine, but there have been days when I've been extra hungry either too early for lunch or after eating my lunch. My solution to this has been to go down to the first floor vending machines and buy a packet of Brown Sugar Cinnamon Poptarts. Not the healthiest choice, I know, but also not the worst of my limited options. Plus, it was only once every week or two and I do like Poptarts despite their lack of any nutritionally redeeming qualities. I decided that this was rather expensive, though, as two packs from the vending machine cost about what a box of 8 would at the grocery store, so I bought a box to keep in my office. Yeah... Have I ever mentioned that I have somewhat limited impulse control? The only thing this brilliant plan of mine has accomplished is turning my once every week or two Poptart into a once every day or two Poptart which hasn't really saved money and is a bigger nutritional issue. So new plan: buy a box of Poptarts but keep them in my locker down on the first floor. Maybe having to go down then back up two flights of stairs to get the Poptarts rather than reaching over to the side of the desk will help.