There's a lot to talk about

Let's start with...

The Food

This is the smažený sýr that rakka and I made over the weekend. It's fried cheese, Czech style. When it's served as street food in Prague it comes as a sandwich as mayo. I missed my chance to try it when I was there this past February, so you know I gave it a go. I'm duplicating rakka's post a bit here, but this stuff deserves it.

smažený sýr sandwich

For cheese we used a pretty decent gruyère. After battering in breadcrumbs and we fried it in the new pans. Did I mention the new pans, btw? Stainless steel with aluminum core, and flat bottomed so they work on the stupid glass top stove. Fantastic. Good tools are where it is fucking at.

Look how shiny that pan is! It cleans easy too.

I won't bother to go into more detail because rakka already did and it's part of my new blogging policy to not bother linking stuff all over the place. It gets in my way and you have access to a wide range of search engines. 

So it's on to the pickled eggs. To be honest, I didn't do much for these (just shelling). Pickling is usually my thing but rakka is doing more nice things for me than usual because my birthday is coming up. Also, she used a british pub recipe so when these are ready we can feel like we're in over there.

Eggs and Brine, a natural combination

The creepy egg face is probably just a refection
And we're not done there. Rakka also got us tapenade stuff. So we made that. People at work were jealous of my homemade muffaletta today. I'll tell you that.

The Shows

Also watched a bunch of shows. Outlander continues to be good though not as stunning as last week. Sleepy Hollow though! Holy shit! Frank! Henry! Franklinsteins Monster!

Then there's the ongoing project to watch all the old Doctor Who in order. This weekend was The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The Daleks motivation doesn't make any sense, but then when has Terry Nation ever let story stand in the way of fantastical set pieces or dramatic tension? The answer is never.

The set pieces are pretty fantastical though, conceptually. In practice they're let down a bit by the budget; you see them mostly in reaction shots. They put most of the money into the dramatic tension. The image of a destroyed Battersea and the location shots in bits of London that were still bombed out was money well spent.

If you need a refresher, btw, I made this some time ago. It may help.

If that doesn't work there's also the silly one.

And I was going to talk about some games I've been playing, but imma save that for later.

Banished to the rainy land of depressing novels

Light was nice the other day (yesterday? who knows). It's gone to shit since, but I have this photo to remind me.
Aaaaaaaaawwwwwww. reverbrbrbrbrbrbrb.
I've been reading The Catcher in the Rye. Or re-reading it? Who can tell. If I read it before I was forced to for school, and therefore did my best to not get anything out of it. I used to be really good at that. I'm getting lots of things out of it this time.

But one of them is depressed, so I took a break and read Troublemaker, the 3rd Dave Brandstetter novel. Yeah, because that was going to be so fucking uplifting. No. That didn't help my spirits much either.

But it was better than watching the slow death of my village in Banished, the medieval hippie commune simulator. Well, it's a town simulator, but the people are so obliging. They just do what's best for the community without ever getting revolty. And there's no money. See, hippies.

This image from because I'm too lazy to switch to windows and get a screenshot of my own town
It's fun, but (or because) it's a very tetchy simulation. Easy to mess it up. Hard to notice that you have. I've driven a number of villages into the ground.

So all my leisure activities are depressing. And now it's the rainy season. I'm set. For what, I don't know. But damn if I'm not set.

Beard Update

The big news this week is, of course, you guessed it, I'm going to say it right now, Sleepy Hollow season 2 started! It's the kind of show that people usually pretend not to watch. Or pretend like they're watching it ironically.

Fuck that. Just admit that SH is fun as hell (even if they have only gone as far as Purgatory). Yeah, I know, it's totally over the top, but the rapport between Abby and Ichabod is just sublime. Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison could do a reality show about ditch digging and I'd watch it. If Lyndie Greenwood (Jenny Mills) and Orlando Jones (Captain Frank Irving) made guest appearances I'd buy the dvds.

I am not on #TeamIchAbby though. I do not ship them. If you need time traveling love triangles, Outlander has that shit locked down.

That was a pretty good wedding episode [Outlander s1e7], I must admit. The fantastical setting leads to a pretty unique set set of emotions for our hungover bride. You've seen it right? Ok. She's still married to Frank, but he and Jamie are never alive at the same time so technically it's not adultery. She loves them both even though nobody believes that she loves Frank. That's gotta be confusing.

Jamie's hair was terrible though. Even I know that.

The show did a surprising good job of showing us Claire's confusion too. Having her and Jamie tell each other (and us) the story was a brilliant move, because it simultaneously told the story of them breaking the ice and becoming an actual couple. It was a good call to spend the whole episode on it.

In Other News

As I've gotten older, my beard has become evil. Not that I grow it out much, but I skipped trimming for a couple weeks and it made itself known. But being evil, it refuses to be photographed. To help you understand what's going on with it, I've produced this simulation.
Simulation of Leff's Evil Beard

And Now: Unrelated Images Seen At Work

Seen at work: Hemp Farts
Honesty in Marketing: Hemp Farts

Eaten at work: Ramen with stuff in it
It's hard to transport soft cooked eggs, so these are hard boiled, like my heart

La Grande Bellezza

I've been sick all week, and that sucks, but I did manage to experience some beauty. The Great Beauty as a matter of fact. 

Rakka has been telling me about this film for months but I've been putting it off. It's not a film you just watch and forget. You have to have time to process it. I couldn't sleep that night. I just lay awake thinking about all the threads. 

This is the same shot everybody uses. Know why? Because you just have to watch the damn movie.
I loved this film so much I'm not going to tell you anything about it. I understand now why rakka wouldn't say details. Anyway, just follow these two rules when you watch it.
  1. If it seems a bit frivolous at first, wait for the music to slow down. 
  2. Don't have anything scheduled for the morning after.
It might be a good idea to watch it with somebody too. You'll want to talk about it. Of course, you can always drop me a line if you need to.

I ain't gonna work tomorrow. And I may not work next day

It seems that I've brought home a cold and given it to Rakka. It could be Enterovirus D68, which is in town. I've gotta stop being a slave to fashion; I'm tired of catching all these trendy diseases.

At least my dentist was nice enough to not charge me for skipping out on my appointment tomorrow. I can't have a sandblaster in my gob and a fever at the same time. I just can't.

Sick or not, reading still has to happen. This weekend it was The Unorthodox Engineers, a collection of short stories from the 60s-70s. It's premise is that the farther you travel (in space) the less you can take, so you have to wing it. To prove it, it pits some figures drawn on cardboard against some silly, made up physics. Total pulp. At least it managed to not be actively sexist; which is a feat for sci-fi (especially older). But it only achieved this by being passively and exclusionarily sexist; not even a mention of a female in the whole thing.

But it was a quick read, and I was already coming down with this cold, so I read it all. If that doesn't sound like a recommendation, then you've been paying attention.

Anyway, it was better than that Jonathan Gash novel I was reading. I abandoned it. Lovejoy is better on tv.

Also this weekend. The Reign of Terror is missing a couple episodes, but they found the audio and animated them. It is jerky to the point of nauseating. They did a better job with The Invasion, which we'll get to later.

Looks great in stills though

In other news, people are moving out of Seattle. Wize. Very Wize. I can't wait to join them.

I saw the light hun, I saw the light

Sometimes good things have bad consequences. Sometimes it's the other way.

Like today, on my way home my sinuses half cleared up for once so I could smell things. This happens once every month or two and for a few hours it's like a whole new world.

It kicked in when I was sat right next to someone with a bag overflowing with the smell of dying. Every time the bag opened. Hospital smell. Hospice. Death bed. Except the one time. Chocolate muffin. Factory muffin. Lifeless. Overpowering.

As it passed under my eyes, the Jonathan Gash novel also felt a bit like dying.

Eventually I got up and roamed around.

I saw the light.

I photographed it.
On the clouds (phone pic via twitter)

Over the navy yard and up the blackridge mountains

Under the big sky (and over the fire)

The fire

Seagull conference




Sometimes bad things have good consequences.

Carnival of Sasanachs

Watched the new doctor who, but rakka and I also watched The Sensorites and that was pretty good. It was no The Aztecs, but definitely serviceable. Lot's of similarities between The Sensorites and the Carnival of Monsters. There's the scheming subordinate, the City Administrator and Kalik, respectively; each have similar sidekicks, firing pins and personalities. The costumes are even sort of similar. In the 60s they blew over the caste system, in the 70s they made a big deal of it. I wonder what conclusions we can draw there. Oh, also, Carnival of Monsters is where the Miniscope reference came from in that stupid Robin Hood episode.

City administrator and his sidekick in The Sensorites

Kalik's sidekick (Orum) and himself in Carnival of Monsters

Speaking of scheming. Somebody that should be, but isn't, is Claire Beauchamp. She's always telegraphing her position, trying to score points off people or trying to make them behave by 20th century standards. Seems like, in her position, she should be holding her tongue and concentrating on scheming her way out. But she kind of comes across as a snotty teenager.

My soul is like a raging river. Or something.
And yet Outlander stays at the top of my priority queue. Not sure why. 'shiping on Clair and Jamie? Maybe. Conspiracy Theorizing that it's funded by the campaign for Scottish independence. It's a fun thought. Especially after episode 5. In the end, the photography is a good enough reason.

In the background I've been enjoying the comedy styling of the classic Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen. Actually, it's a really nice summary of what makes buildings nice, which doesn't change much.

Corbusier even makes the cover.
But it's from 1959 so there's some good stuff about how great highways are, and how great Le Corbusier was. At the time Corbusier was still alive and probably considered almost as a god in some circles, but I don't think Rasmussen actually liked his stuff. Every compliment comes with a barb.

The Secret Place

The Secret Place
Even though I've been working from home, I've been working from home. So it took me until just now to finish The Secret Place. It really is tremendous. Tremendous literature. It's genre fiction, sure. Turns out those two things aren't mutually exclusive.

In other news, rakka has started counting down to my birthday by giving me little things. Yesterday it was a chocolate orange, and today it was a book on what to do after you retire. Haha. Now I just have to retire.

I didn't take pictures of the chocolate orange (rakka did). I was too busy eating it. But it was an orange/chocolate cake in a hollowed out orange. Super tasty. Thanks Rakka!

Captain Haddock: Space Pirate

You Pestilential Pachyderm! You miserable blundering barbecued blister!

I would have paid good money to see Captain Haddock: Space Pirate. And while Captain Harlock: Space Pirate was beautifully rendered, it was absolute nonsense and Harlock didn't once threaten to reduce anybody to powder. I was a little sad about that.

But, being me, I want to track down the original shit from the 70s. And I probably will. Or I'll forget.

Also. In the ongoing quest to watch all the doctor whos with rakka, in order, we watched the The Aztecs over the weekend. You know something, it was really good. Story telling wise, it was packed with excitement. Sure you had to use your imagination ever so slightly to fill in the gaps left by the budget, but damn that Tlotoxl is a bad man.
Barbara, in the thick of it and kicking ass like usual
I used to not like it. Don't know why. Probably because no space monsters. But the storytelling is good. Plot's pretty tight. Pace is quick. For '63 especially.

Also, also. You know the yakuza movie where the main guy pits 2 or 3 clans against each other and everybody dies, including the main guy. Yeah, it's all yakuza movies. At least it seems that way. But it's always fun to watch Beat Takeshi do that twitch thing.
The Outrageous Beat Takeshi

But I have the new Tana French, and that's all that really matters. Are you not in The Secret Place yet? You best get on it.

At 50%, very good so far.