* If I had cable, I’d be watching Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. Because I’m a penny-pinching old woman, I’m waiting for it to come out on Netflix or Amazon Prime. But Ms. Laity‘s take on it is quite interesting. If you’re into fantasy literature, you should definitely read the whole thing. /hat tip: Byron Ballard.
‘[G]rimdark’ is fantasy done in the style of post-Watchmen, Dark Knight comics: urban, gritty, violent—in short, everything that anxious males these days consider manly. It’s considered ‘realistic’ whereas typical fantasy happens in ‘Medieval Land’ where nothing is real—never mind that the Middle Ages was in fact a real time period while manly land is a fictional construct.
There’s a peculiarly ‘masculine’ romanticism that equates dark grimness as ‘realism’ somehow. It’s what’s behind the defensive avowals of ‘realism’ from the creators of Game of Thrones for the rapes they feature (never mind that they never show the ‘realism’ of male rape or a host of other ‘real’ events in their fantasy narrative). As Elaine Viets recognized, male romance is a category:
You’ve read them. You just didn’t realize it. That’s because the critics call these books ‘gritty realism,’ ‘hard-boiled,’ or ‘scathing social satire’…There are lots of guns and gore in the male romance novels, but they’re as sentimental as a royal wedding.
I admit that, lawyer that I am, I’ve often cautioned young women not to end their sentences with a questioning tone. In our field in particular, sounding authoritative is half the game. But there’s a completely valid view that says that ending your sentence with an uptone is a way of seeking consensus, which is, or would, in a normal world, be different from “sounding insecure.” And the fact that we tend to equate “sounding like a girl” with “sounding insecure” while we associate “sounding masculine” with “sounding authoritative” is a problem in itself. And to assume that one style of communication (I don’t need your consent; I’m right) is better than the other (Do we all agree on this point? Can we move on to the next one?) is part of the problem.
* Lughnasadh is the first of Paganism’s three harvest festivals. By this time of year, though, here in the Magical MidAtlantic, a lot of our flowers are over and done. (Which makes sense; you need the flowers to bloom and bear fruit before you can harvest. But if what you want to harvest is flowers, well, it’s getting on a bit.) Right now, I have daisies, Queen Anne’s Lace (I recently hired a gardener who asked me, “Did you plant that or do you want it to come out?” to which I responded, “NO! Don’t pull it. Landscape Guy dug it up by a roadside and planted it for me and I want it!”), black-eyed susan, anemones, and, just starting, obedient plant. The day lilies are almost, but not quite done, and I’ve let a bit of the bok choy and swiss chard bloom to get seeds for next year.
What’s blooming in your garden just now?
* There’s a Blue Moon either tonight or on Friday, the eve of Lughnasadh, depending upon how you count. I hope you have some magic planned. I do and it’s based on gratitude for accomplishment of two particularly meaningful goals and some plans for the future.
Make an easy peach vinaigrette dressing: take two tablespoonfuls of peach jam, 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of red or black pepper, kosher salt, a pinch of fresh chopped rosemary and 1/4 cup of light olive oil and whisk together. Makes for a great summer salad.
I think you could also just use smooched (that’s a technical term, BTW) fresh peaches (now completely in season here in the Magical, well, you know) and some sugar, instead of the peach jam.
* I made Charleston Harbor Picked Shrimp as appetizers for last week’s book club and then served the leftovers for an impromptu dinner on the porch with a friend. They were well-received. And very easy. You boil shrimp and Cajun spices for two or three minutes, just until the shrimp turn pink. (I think you could use Old Bay as well, or even curry for a different taste.) Peel the shrimp and put them, along with some thinly-sliced peppers and onions, in white cider vinegar. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight. (I stole this recipe from the internet, but I don’t remember where.) Now that even the evenings are steamy and hot, they make a nice cold dinner, especially with some cole slaw and cantaloupe.
* I am in lust.