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Travel, comics, TV, spam, Halloween, birthdays

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Sorry so out of touch lately. I have dozens of things I want to post about, as always, but somehow haven't managed the time to post lately.

Going back a week and a half: The weekend of the 20th-22nd, I took a quick weekend trip to Chicago to see Mary Anne. Flew out Friday, back Sunday; less than 48 hours in Chicago.

Good trip; we spent a quiet weekend at M's place. (The last couple of times we've seen each other, there's been a lot of running around to see other people and go to events and such.) Watched a lot of TV--for example, I hadn't previously seen Smallville, and I rather liked it. (One of the things I've been wanting to post about is the general idea of heavily reworking a story that has a well-established canon--what are the essential elements that make up a given story? What can and can't you change if you want to still be telling, say, a Superman story, or Shakespeare, or if you're reworking a much-beloved old television series?) We also watched Shakespeare in Love, which was at least as good the second time. Lovely movie.

And I got to meet Elinor, M and Kevin's very cute dog. She only chewed on my shoe a little bit. I have a bunch of photos (and a couple of videos), but haven't had a chance to post them yet.

Since I got home, I haven't done much. Magazine reading and editing, continuing to read Mansfield Park. Went comic shopping (thanks to Sarah L.) for the first time in months; picked up the two new volumes of Y: The Last Man (still good, though perhaps not quite as excellent as the first five volumes) and some new Love & Rockets-related trade paperback collections and the two new issues of Castle Waiting. Attended a low-key birthday celebration. Watched a whole bunch of TV with Kam: we're now caught up on both BSG and Dr. Who.

(We particularly loved the Dr. Who episode "School Reunion," despite a weirdly abrupt climactic moment. And I'm thoroughly amused by the number of times they've mentioned "Torchwood" this season--at least once per episode, I think, presumably to help drum up interest in the new spinoff series Torchwood, featuring (yay!) Captain Jack.)

In magazine news, October's submission volume dropped back down to the levels of this past spring (which is also about the same as last October's volume), which was rather odd given the remarkably high volume over the summer, when we've traditionally had lower than usual volume. Perhaps the novelty of the RTF submission form has worn off. Whatever the reason, submission volume dropped 16% from September to October.

Last night, I sat down to read submissions but ended up spending a couple hours working on my spam problem instead. Deleted probably 30,000 or 40,000 pieces of spam that've accumulated in the past while--my filters have been dealing with all that, but one of the resulting mailboxes hit the 25,000-message Eudora limit, so the filters stopped working. At least, that's my theory. At any rate, I finally took the long-delayed step of beginning to determine what all the valid email addresses are at my domains, so that I can just stop accepting mail that isn't to any of them. It's not nearly as straightforward a task as it sounds, but I made significant progress on it. Automatically throwing away mail to invalid addresses won't solve my spam problem, but it will eliminate quite a lot of the spam that currently gets through my filters.

This evening, after attending the PHP/GData presentation, I drove for an hour through horrible 101 rush-hour traffic to Redwood City (would normally have been about a half-hour drive) (and yes, I used my Prius carpool-lane option even though I continue to be dubious about whether they should've given us that option), where I helped Arthur & Pam & Ray celebrate Halloween by handing out candy to neighborhood kids.

Unrelatedly: I keep forgetting to post about birthdays. Been a spate of them the past couple weeks. Three weeks ago: Sigourney Weaver, Marté, Pär, Kris L, Chris B, Zed. Then Nina M turned three, and Oscar Wilde would've been 152. And then there was Mykle, and Jennifer R. Last week, birthdays included Arthur E, Lori H-C, Gerry C (who, I hear, sadly, did not have such a good birthday, and it was one of those big milestoney ones, so you should all go tell him happy birthday! if you know him), and Susan R. This week: Naomi B and Sonya S (on the same day, a year apart); Carey M; Zenna Henderson would've been 89 today (Wednesday); Wednesday's also the birthday of Jen Fu and my uncle David. And John H in a couple days.

Yay for all the birthdays! I'm sorry not to've contacted most of y'all, and to've missed at least three birthday celebrations. I've been thinking fondly of all of you, even the ones I haven't met.

And now I will go sleep. Or read subs. One or the other.

3 Comments

What do you think of Mansfield Park?

For me it was a little like The Wind Up Bird Chronicle -- grueling, until suddenly retroactively brilliant all the way through...


Mansfield Park is one of the things I want to write about in more detail at some point, but since you asked, I'll say a little about it here.

I'm reading it 'cause I got halfway through The Jane Austen Book Club and decided I would rather read the relevant Austen novels that I hadn't read yet before reading the rest of the Fowler book.

In my 1500-page trade-paperback Oxford University Press edition of Jane Austen: The Complete Novels, Mansfield Park is 300 pages long. For the first hundred pages of that, I thought the book was incredibly tedious, with not a single likeable character. I often like boy scout characters, but Edmund and Fanny are too insufferably moralistic even for me, and everyone else is greedy, selfish, oblivious, petty, distant, and/or self-centered. Feh. I came pretty close to giving up on the book entirely.

Around the time when the characters decide to put on a play, I started getting more interested, and now I'm only 50 pages from the end and finding the book tolerable. But it's definitely my least favorite Austen so far.

I told Arthur E all that last night, and mentioned that I wasn't sure whether to read Northanger Abbey before reading the rest of Jane Austen Book Club. (I've already read the others that appear to be discussed in detail in that book.) Arthur said that Northanger Abbey is worth reading, and much much (much!) shorter than Mansfield Park to boot, and loaned me an unintimidating little paperback copy of it. So I'll read that next.

(I just ran wordcounts on the Project Gutenberg editions of Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey; the latter is less than half the length of the former, 80,000 words as opposed to 160,000. And Mansfield Park feels even longer to me, due to aforementioned tedium levels.)

...Btw, I forget if I've mentioned this before, but when you post a comment here, email addresses are optional. So you don't need to enter a fake one if you don't want to.


See, I suffered from the tedium at times too, but I think Mansfield Park is a tour de force -- a novel in which the protagonist does NOTHING for 300 pages, but which manages to make that nonaction a vital drama.

It's a reply to, or corrective for, Pride & Prejudice -- Fanny is everything Elizabeth is not (in fact it's her nemesis who resembles Elizabeth).


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