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Below are the 17 most recent journal entries recorded in sonetka's LiveJournal:

Monday, September 12th, 2016
11:07 pm
Peter Wimsey And The Poisoner Of Azkaban
This came about as the result of a late night gchat session with rhysiana in which we touched on the evergreen subject of just how terrible Peter's proposal is in Strong Poison and how if he just happened to live in another fictional universe he'd probably have wanted a Time Turner or three to go back and fix it. The resulting fic mutated a bit along the way and doesn't feature Time Turners or any kind of time manipulation, but it does feature Dementors -- though even they don't have the power to make that initial conversation go any worse and maybe even improved it.

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Saturday, March 19th, 2016
9:05 pm
The Wittiest Letter In The Alphabet
nineveh_uk gave me the letter F.

Something I hate: Until a month ago I would have said flying, but although that's still true at the moment I hate family secrets more. It is, however, a consolation that the particular one I've been dealing with has been something like a 2 out of 10 on the Family Secret Richter scale, and that at least it didn't involve finding mummified infants in a steamer trunk, a House of Usher style corpse behind a wall, two fake identities with no real identity discoverable, or even comparatively standard complications like a secret baby or a second family. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Something I love: Ferries. I had never had occasion to take one until moving to Seattle and now I think that it's the best commuting method ever invented. But since they only leave every few hours and using one routinely would have to involve moving to an island which would be either (a) inconveniently expensive or (b) inconveniently remote, ferry riding is currently confined to the occasional day trip during which I can enjoy having lots of room to walk around and watching seals taking naps on buoys.

Somewhere I've been: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. (It's amazing how few places I've been that begin with the letter F). My father's cousins live up there and so sometimes when I was young we'd go up in the car and spend a few days catching up with relatives (the adults) and failing to remember people's names or how exactly they were related to us (children). My main memories are of being allowed to ride a pony from the stables owned by one of the cousins (exotic!) and of being puzzled when all the cars actually pulled to the side of the road when they heard an ambulance siren. I hadn't realized that cars were supposed to do that at all; I had never seen it in Chicago once. Also a trip up there usually entailed a visit to the Lands' End outlet in Oshkosh, about fifteen miles away.

Somewhere I'd like to go: the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. So I could sit in various locations for several hours at a time and just look at these impossibly beautiful places which managed to defy the odds twice over -- both by existing in the first place, and continuing to exist now.

Someone I know: My dad! Didn't have to go very far for that one, which is lucky because otherwise I have a real dearth of acquaintances whose names begin with F. It doesn't seem to be a very popular letter around here.

A film I like: Flirting With Disaster -- directed by David O. Russell before everything he did had to be Oscar bait starring Jennifer Lawrence. Especially memorable for the opening montage in which the adopted main character tries to imagine who his birth parents are, and for the final scenes in which the birth parents end up accidentally giving acid to an FBI agent (the story's a little involved). For a Ben Stiller cringe comedy it's comparatively restrained and it has a lot of fantastic lines. ("I'm going to have that image in my head for the rest of my LIFE, you know!" "Vivid. I'm seeing colors I don't want to see." OK, they're funnier in context, but you get the idea).
Monday, February 8th, 2016
10:34 am
After The End, The Last Of It
One final bit of Strong Poison fic, and I think that after this the well will be just about dry, at least when it comes to Where Are They Now fics about characters who only appear in that book and then never again. I did have an idea for a Mrs. Pettican/Hannah Westlock follow-up, but it didn't really come together -- besides, given the time the story takes place, it's reasonable to assume that they both found other jobs pretty quickly, and having the Tale Of The Murderous Former Employer to dine out on certainly wouldn't hurt them socially. (Though I'm sure Mrs. Pettican was horrified that those eggs would have been sitting innocently in her kitchen for hours, right under her nose). Perhaps I'll need to move on to Have His Carcase for the next series of fics. Mrs. Weldon/Antoine: The Later Years, anyone?

But for now, I give you the Rev. Mr. Boyes, three or four years on. All comments and corrections are gratefully accepted, and of course, I own nothing.

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
9:48 pm
After The End, Part 2
For all of you who have lain awake at night wondering "I wonder what happened to Mr. Pond and Miss Booth after the end of Strong Poison?" I say to you, wonder no more! I have a few more planned but these were the first two to emerge in presentable fashion. All questions, comments, criticisms and Britpicks are very welcome.

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Current Mood: curious
Friday, May 8th, 2015
11:22 pm
After The End
Waiting for a punishingly long sports event to end gave me a lot of time to speculate about the eventual fates of one-off fictional characters. So far there's only been one which resolved itself into a vignette, though. Because whatever Ryland Vaughan might say while drunk, I firmly believe that that bottle of Veronal was more of a dramatic prop than anything, and he was alive and well the following summer ...

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Current Mood: tired
Saturday, April 11th, 2015
12:39 am
"The Devil Is An English Gentleman" by John Cournos (1932)
In her essay on John Cournos in American Writers In Europe: 1850 To The Present, Marilyn Schwinn Smith comments on a general lack of Cournos scholarship, stating that "although the quantity and quality of his publications testify to an ambition and and aspiration no less energetic than that of his better known, compatriot friends and colleagues … He is remembered today, most frequently, as a translator from the Russian." (75) This is a polite half-truth, of course – Smith doesn't mention that the continuing popularity of Dorothy Sayers' novels has ensured that Cournos retains real, if unwelcome, literary immortality as the model for repellent murder victim Philip Boyes in Strong Poison. Sayers had a brief, bizarre, extremely unhappy liaison with Cournos in 1922, as a result of which each participant ended up giving birth to a revenge novel – Cournos's was The Devil Is An English Gentleman.

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Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
12:13 am
Slack Your Rope, Hangman
In The Beginning is now posted on AO3, for the benefit of castiron and, of course, all the Harriet/Philip shippers out there! I've cleaned it up a bit, mostly smoothing out some of the dialogue and historical references, and making sure it's as much in line with the book as possible (I'd forgotten that the Dyers lived above them, not below, and that Sylvia had a bed-sitting room -- not important, really, but I like consistency). Onward to finally reading all of The Devil Is An English Gentleman! But before that, a couple of last observations/questions about Strong Poison.

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Current Mood: curious
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
11:21 pm
In The Beginning, Concluded
In which you already know what happens :). (Read Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3 if you need to catch up). As usual, all comments and corrections of whatever stripe are very welcome, and also I wanted to say thank you to everyone who's read and/or commented so far; I really do appreciate it, especially since this ended up turning out much longer than I expected it to be. (And this last bit is the longest, just to give you fair warning).

Two random notes:

Half the fun of writing this was looking up the historical references, but my favourite, albeit not terribly useful, find was London Street Noises: 1928. Exactly what it sounds like -- it consists of street noises recorded in Leicester Square and Beauchamp Place in September 1928, and elaborated on by a peeved-sounding commentator. Buskers become much more interesting to listen when they're playing eighty-seven years ago.

Looking at a calendar for 1929 and comparing it the dates in Strong Poison, I noticed that Philip's first "attack" as noted by the visiting doctor fell on March 31st. In 1929, that was Easter Sunday. I have no idea if this was intentional on Sayers' part or not, but I couldn't help thinking that Urquhart must have laid on the arsenic with an overly lavish hand if they had to get a doctor out to the house on that particular day.

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Current Mood: anxious
Saturday, March 7th, 2015
9:56 pm
Interlude: Philip Boyes Lives!
Since I'm still working on the last part of the story, I thought I would take a break by wandering off into an AU in which Philip decided not to propose -- a decision which turns out to affect his eventual fate dramatically.

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Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
9:26 pm
In The Beginning, Part 3
In which Harriet and Philip move in together and it goes about as well as you'd expect. (Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here). As usual, all questions, comments, corrections, and Howlers are welcome, as are Britpicks -- since I've spent a grand total of five weeks in the UK, I'm sure they'll be needed!

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Current Mood: depressed
Friday, February 20th, 2015
11:21 pm
In The Beginning, Part 2
In which Philip begins the pursuit, and Norman Urquhart slithers back into his life. (Part 1 is here.) I may change the title at some point, since this one isn't particularly inspiring (and while something like, say, Fifty Shades Of Boyes would definitely stand out more, I wouldn't want to be responsible for the resulting mental scars). As before, all comments, suggestions, corrections and Howlers are welcome.

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Current Mood: anxious
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
1:52 pm
The Hobbit: Addition By Subtraction
Presidents' Day isn't something that usually registers with me except as the occasion of a day off school for children and mattress sales for adults, but this year we ended up observing it by visiting friends and watching this edit of The Hobbit. This is the FunnyPuzzle/David Killstein edit (though I have my doubts about either one of those being his real name) and it was excellent. I understand that he's since pulled it and is working on improving it with one or more of the other people who also released edits in late January, but going by what we saw the final product should be something really worth watching.

Aside from the strangeness of going to see a movie based on what it didn't have in it (How often has that happened before? "Come on in and see the circus! No elephants! No strong man! Definitely no clowns!") I think the best indicator that it worked was the fact that most of the time I didn't even notice what had been cut until much later. "Oh wait, wasn't there a gratuitous warg chase they got rid of around here?" "I remember now, they cut the pointless standoff with the elves in that last part," and of course "Richard Armitage looks much better when he isn't having to play Thorin as a brooding hero on a romance novel cover." There was a noticeable drop in film quality when the material from the third movie started, and of course he had no DVD extras to work with on that one, but I imagine that time and the DVD release will take care of that.

General observations:

-- Peter Jackson, or his set design team, really like those wide open conference spaces. In the Lonely Mountain, in the wood-elves' hall, even in the goblins' cave -- the rulers are always sitting on a raised, difficult-to-access platform in a great hall the size of Grand Central Station. You can see the advantages; you're visible everywhere and there's little chance of a hole-in-corner assassination when you're perched on high for all to see (and hear). Of course, defending yourself against a hostile archer might be difficult. And it did mean that goblins' cave needed to be implausibly well-lit.

-- The acting is good, really good. It was possible to see that in the theatrical releases but the endless "Cue chase scene!" bits made it very easy to lose track of that fact and/or start getting distracted by counting the number of times when a dwarf is either hammered by some gigantic foe or falls from a ridiculous height and still manages to emerge without so much as a fractured ankle. There's certainly a lot of material in the appendices, but I refuse to believe that Tolkien included any footnotes about how dwarves and hobbits have titanium skeletons.

-- Cutting 90% of the fighting scenes made the remaining ones much more effective. When Thorin and Company arrived at the entrance to the goblin caves and began bunking down for the night, there was actual perceptible tension there. Before this their only real hostile encounter had been with the trolls, of whom there were only three (and not the brightest three specimens either). When Bilbo kills the spider in Mirkwood, it's the first time he's done anything really physically courageous. It stands out as an important moment, just like in the book, as opposed to fading into the background as it does in the movie.

-- The pacing in the edit was very, very quick -- sometimes too quick, since the dwarves were doing things like desperately shooting at the stag in Mirkwood seemingly about five seconds after entering. Part of this was probably just lack of material to replace the cut bits with, but considering how fast the book moves I don't think it was that bad a problem. There were a few continuity issues -- we see Bilbo wearing his mithril shirt and never find out how he got it -- but again, nothing fatal.

-- I was amused to see that the sole remaining scene featuring Alfrid (the wannabe-Wormtongue) was the one where he fawns over Bard and tries to proclaim him king. Since the only other glimpse of Alfrid that we get is a brief moment where we see him at the Master's window, looking surly, in this edit it's perfectly plausible that he's sincere.

-- The drench-Smaug-in-gold scene was partially retained, probably because there was almost no way to avoid it entirely while still keeping most of Smaug's dialogue. However, the buildup to it is almost entirely gone; the dwarves manage to rig it up in about thirty-five seconds during their first encounter with Smaug, which at least makes them look uncharacteristically competent for a brief moment. Ordinarily I would complain about this but since it was such an unnecessary scene in the first place I can't really bring myself to do it. (Especially, as A. pointed out, because the CGI for the molten-gold effects was so terrible -- I think he was experiencing actual physical pain when we saw it in the theater).

-- It was very nice to see Legolas again -- for three seconds, closing a door and walking into the Wood-elves' hall. It was a perfect cameo, a restrained nod to the LOTR movies. Which, in the end, is what The Hobbit should be as well.

Current Mood: happy
Friday, February 13th, 2015
11:17 pm
In The Beginning
One thing about Dorothy Sayers' books which I've wondered about for a long time (though my interest was refreshed by a combox discussion in, I think, October) is the question of what brought Philip Boyes and Harriet Vane together in the first place. The explanation in Strong Poison is reasonable enough on the face of it, but while we're told that Philip was a "handsome and attractive man whom any woman might have found it difficult to resist" we certainly don't see much evidence of it then or later. Even allowing for differences of perspective, his actual behavior seems to have ranged from the merely thoughtless to the downright insulting and nobody particularly seems to regret his passing except for his father and Ryland Vaughan. Harriet later thinks in Gaudy Night that Philip "never lov[ed] her until he had killed her feeling for him" but granting that Harriet knows more about him than the reader does, it's still difficult to imagine him really loving anyone except himself, and especially not a woman who had bruised his ego by dumping him just when he thought he was doing her an enormous favour.

The end result was a beast of a file with scenes ranging from their first meeting to Charles Parker knocking on Harriet's door to ask her a few questions. I'm still working on it, in fact, but I wanted to post the first part here so that if anyone wants to give advice, make corrections, or send Howlers they'll have the chance to do so. Happy Valentine's Day from two people who should never have gotten together!

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Monday, October 27th, 2014
11:01 pm
Gone Girl
Before starting, let it be known that today is the ninety-second anniversary of W.W. Sterrett's unsolved murder by arsenical wedding cake, which I wrote a post about here. As I recently edited it to include what happened to his wife, which I didn't know at the time I wrote it last year, I think this justifies linking to it again. Short version of the wife's fate: there's little documentation, but what there is doesn't contain much that's dramatic. After her husband's bizarre poisoning death, she moved in with her mother for a while, but was gone from her mother's house by 1930, going by census reports. At some point before 1935, and probably earlier, she took the in-context dramatic step of actually leaving the state (going by the records I had found earlier, every single family member of both of these people was in Pennsylvania and always had been) and moved to Chautauqua, New York. OK, so Chautauqua is about as close as you can get to Pennsylvania without actually crossing the state line, but it still seems like a symbolic break. Or, more realistically, since Mrs. Sterrett was a nurse and Chautauqua was the sort of place people liked to retire to, she may have gone there for a job. Regardless of her motive, she seems to have stayed there the rest of her life. She died in 1965.

And now from a real mystery to a fictional one. By last weekend, A. and I had heard so much about Gone Girl that it was clear that waiting for the DVD would be impossible if we wanted to avoid knowing the whole story ahead of time. So off we went and settled in for a nice, dramatic rendition of Who's The Real Psychopath Here? Which, for the first three-quarters of the movie, it was. If it had ended about two hours in, it would have been grim but really good. After two and half hours, though ... well, I'll put it this way. I was talking about it with a friend and she said that ultimately, the point of the movie wasn't realism, it was to make us examine our perception of gender roles. I didn't agree: first of all, there's no reason you can't examine gender roles and have a coherent story at the same time, and second, it actually achieved the opposite with me -- the pileon of WTFery at the end drove away all other thoughts except "How did that happen? There's no way that would happen!" and gender roles remained tragically unexamined. Spoilers ahead, of course.

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Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
10:23 pm
Arsenic And Old Cake
While taking a breather from the sixteenth century (my God, the Anne Boleyn books NEVER END, I really had no idea what I was taking on there) I wrote this post -- the story of a Pennsylvania accountant poisoned by an anonymously-sent slice of arsenical wedding cake. This happened in 1922, and what with the ironclad alibis, all-too-talkative neighbours, and bizarre, overly noticeable conveyance for the poison -- not to mention the fact that the poison was arsenic -- it's made me wonder if the Golden Age detective writers were more into gritty realism than we think.

Happy Halloween!
Friday, June 1st, 2012
11:12 pm
Here And There
I've always enjoyed reading Tudor novels (yes, even before Philippa Gregory made it big). As time has gone by and I've filled my spare moments with one fictional Anne Boleyn after another, my inner student's urge to Compare And Contrast finally became too much. This LJ didn't really seem like the place for it, so if you want, you can get your fill at The Head That Launched A Thousand Books.

I'm planning on doing a book a week, and with the current state of publishing, that could easily keep me going as long as Pepys's Diary, so drop by any time!

Current Mood: crazy
Thursday, June 3rd, 2004
11:26 pm
La Vita Nuova
Quick note: due to various reasons (most of them stemming from my own depressed brain, I'll freely admit) I've decided that I'll be more comfortable with this journal being friends-only. I don't think that affects too many people, but if you've been lurking and want to be added, leave a comment and I can fix that for you.
I'm deleting comments to this entry after you've been added to my friends list, but rest assured it's nothing personal; just trying to keep the place looking neat, that's all :).

Current Mood: uncomfortable
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