photo by Kelly Robson
One of my irrational peeves about pop culture is the way writer homes are sometimes depicted as vast, cool, expansive spaces, with tons of square footage and twenty-foot high ceilings with massive amounts of natural light and floor to attic bookcases on the walls. This doesn’t bother me about Castle, however, because Nathan Fillion’s character is portrayed as having come from money in the first place and being extraordinarily successful in the second, but when the fictional writer in question isn’t a New York Times bestselling born-with-a-silver-spoon personality, it irks.
Having said that, my little condo doesn’t much look like a set designer went nuts on the premises, but it does have an extraordinary number of luxuries attached to it.
The hot tub you’ve all probably heard about, and like most of these places, there’s a gym, communal barbecues, and an event room. The real perk is the location: we’re five minutes from the subway and smack in the midst of cultural treasures like the AGO, the TiFF Bell Lightbox, City Halls new and old, and all the theaters.
One of the things I probably don’t mention all that often is that my marvelous well-located building also has a library, complete with a random scattering of books, WiFi that mostly does work, and a TV and faux fireplace that–as far as I can tell–aren’t plugged into anything.
It’s big, spacious, quiet, and frequently empty, and it has a couple of workstations as well as the lounging chairs pictured here. There’s a window along one wall which lets in the light of day. It’s where I go to clear my head when I need to get away from home, cats and distractions, but can’t or don’t want to go all the way out to a coffee shop.
I’m sitting here as I write these words, sifting through projects and priorities for the coming month, with Of Montreal’s Sunlandic Twins playing via a portable Bluetooth speaker and a view of gray and rainy clouds.
I suspect and hope that 2016 is going to be an extraordinary year, filled both with wonders and opportunities. This little bit of quiet, at the stub end of the year, is all about gearing up and getting ready.
This week’s BtVS essay is on “Entropy,” which–in case you’ve forgotten–is the one where Anya and Spike get drunk together and things happen. Sad, spoilery and not too difficult to understand stuff.
I’ll be on the road this weekend, so I may pop in on the comments thread very sparingly.
I am several weeks ahead of these essays in terms of viewing, so right now I’m watching the very last episodes of S6. For all that the general woe of this season doesn’t work for me, I do love the rampage at the end, and its resolution.
I’m up to “Intervention” on the Buffy Rewatch.
Plas related to our relocation are coming along. We have firmed up locations and dates for services, arranged some important banking and medical stuff, and acquired a bed. (Our frame is busted and isn’t coming with. Anyone want a pristine queen-sized futon?) Tomorrow the Frog Boxes arrive and we start packing.
I am obsessing over the bird checklist at the Leslie Street Spit. There will be owl photos.
In the midst of this, my mother-in-law is in town, which is super-delightful! We’re cat-sitting for friends for a bunch of days. And we are saying a lot of goodbyes. Holy crap do I know a lot of people in this neighborhood.
We’re moving into more of a discussion of Spuffy with my essay on “Crush” on the Buffy rewatch now.
As with any series of columns, there’s some lead time in play here. “Crush” is the rewatch that’s on Tor right now; this past week I’ve watched “The Body” and “Forever.” I’ve been to a lot of family funerals in the period between the initial airing of these episodes and this month, and it made the experience of reviewing them more intense. I am really looking forward to getting a little distance from the tragedies of season five. I’d be looking forward to it even more if a lot of what happens in S6 and S7 wasn’t so grim. Still… musical episode soonish!
Some time ago we acquired the sequel to BBC’s Cranford, which is as chickly a televisual enterprise as you would ever want to watch. Based on fiction by Elizabeth Gaskell, it was produced and created by Sue Birtwhistle and Susie Conklin, and stars Judi Dench, Julia McKenzie, Imelda Staunton, Barbara Flynn and Julia Sawalha.
Also, it has a cow in long underwear.
I’m not saying it’s all one big convent, or even L Word, 1840 Style. (Though that might be intriguing). There are men in the town of Cranford, you see. It’s just that few of them seem to be available for traditional heterosexual romantic pursuit. They’re either attached or bound for India, or just plain dim or somehow doomed.
So this wonderful bunch of middle-aged spinsters who pretty much own the town bevvies about, not being married, not having children and instead forming a delightful alternate family. They putter about gossiping and having adventures and renovating theaters and, now and then, experiencing heartbreak as they grapple with the clash between the era they grew up in and their radically changed present, with its railroads and progress and newfangled technology.
Part one was so wonderful and that we rewatched it before diving into Return to Cranford. The original series had neatly disposed of the only two single men by its final episode. One did, despite considerable deficits in the commonsense department, get himself married. The other, who was played by a delightfully surly Philip Glenister, did not. They shuffled him off the stage nonetheless.
Even a chickly chickly costume drama’s nothing without at least one romantic entanglement, am I right? So one new male character now was required. So, to my surprise, the new available boy turned out to be the man otherwise known as Loki McWhinepants, brother of Thor–in other words, Tom Hiddleston.
Now many of my fannish friends have the idea that Tom Hiddleston and his Avengery alter ego are as yummy a bag of chips as the salt gods could ever bestow upon a screen, big or small. And I could, intellectually, rationalize his appeal. But film Loki just didn’t do it for me. If there was a test whose question was Rate the Film Avengers in order of sexy yum potential, my list would probably go something like this:
1. Joss Whedon’s Brain
2. The Assassins.
4.5. Tony and Bruce, together, in that car. Or that lab.
5. Team Shield: Fury, Agent Coulson, Agent Hill and their very cool ship.
6. Captain America.
7. Unnamed but suitably grateful Waitress.
8. Team Asgard
What I’m saying is that while I’ve understood and (I hope) supported my friends in their pursuit of Tony/Loki fanfic and ever cuter Hiddleston gifs, I’d also thought, you know, yawn.
What’s this got to do with our topic (Return to Cranford, remember? It’s okay. I almost forgot, too.) Well, Tom Hiddleston! In period Pants! Being earnest and put upon and in pure true love with a young woman and being put upon by his father. In the face of parental opposition to his life choices, he does something that’s spoilery spoilery never you mind but thoroughly wonderful and romantic.
And just like that, Whoo! I’m on board.
In my house, silly new telecrushes inevitably lead first to the imdb. . .
. . . and then to embarrassment, in this case because I then realized that TH was also the totally annnoying Magnus in Wallander. I love Wallander! How did I miss that?
(Answer: I was too busy laughing as little Kenny Branaugh cried his eyes out. Apparently I am a sick sick person).
. . . and then, after the Wallander discovery and subsequent facepalms had sunk in, all I could do was text the aforementioned Tony/Loki shipper to say guess what, I heart what you heart now. You are right, I am wrong, mea culpa.
So I’ve learned a valuable lesson about tolerance, or perhaps about how Mister Hiddleston is far more attractive when clothed in old timey garb, virtue, and clean hair. But what I really hope you’ll take away from this is that Cranford and sequel are all about the women. If you like costume dramas at all and someone missed this one, I recommend it bigtime. Especially as Judi Dench is so warm and lovely and thoughtful and thoroughly marvelous that you just want to reach through the fourth wall and give her a great big hug. Plus, also, tea.