09 February 2023

Land Sharks

In case no one knows, December and January were pretty much winter hell up here in South Dakota.  After the last blizzard, this is what I had in my front yard:

That little dark landshark in the middle is the tip of the handrail to a set of stairs that leads from the street up to the landing before the steps that lead to our front porch.  And I could only take this after the blizzard was over, which lasted about 3 days.  And it took another 24-36 hours (I don't know any more, it's been a long winter and time is getting away from me) to get shoveled out.  

I also had this across the street:

That is our block's fire hydrant, totally snowed in.  I discovered, as the days passed without anyone shoveling it out, that while there is an ordinance requiring all sidewalks to be cleared within 48 hours, there is no ordinance requiring fire hydrants to be shoveled out at all.  And I've been pitching a fit about that ever since.  

At least I got caught up on my streaming.  And some of my reading.

Negative review first:  I'm not a fan of The Banshees of Inisherin.  I agree with the reviewer who called it "the feel-bad movie of the year", so if that's what you want, go for it.  But besides being depressing, I also found it just another compendium of every negative stereotype of rural Ireland, or any other rural place.  Deliverance in the Isles:  a bunch of feckless, idle, drunken men; bitterly gossiping women; a father-son pervert duo; etc., etc., etc.  One of the most unbelievable scenes was when (for some reason) they showed Padraic and Siobhan sleeping in the same bedroom, thankfully in separate beds.  I've spent a lot of time in rural Ireland, visiting my husband's relatives, and seen a lot of old cottages, and I can assure you that even the smallest cottage had a separate bedroom for the parents, another one for the girls, and if there wasn't a third room for the boys, they slept in the main room.  And I didn't buy the whole Irish Civil War as metaphor at all.  But that's just me.

On the other hand, I loved Stonehouse.  Based on a true story, it stars Matthew Macfadyen as John Stonehouse, former MP and Postmaster under Harold Wilson, who pulled an early Reginald Perrin and disappeared from a beach in Miami, trying to avoid charges of espionage, fraud, and theft.  He was, as one person says, "The worst spy ever":  he would be fired from Slough House.  Favorite line:  When he's being "recruited" due to a blackmailing film, he pauses, then asks, "Will I be paid?"  Second favorite scene: When he's finally spotted, they assume he's Lord Lucan.  (Here)  Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire.  I really enjoyed it, and my only complaint is that they really rushed through the last episode.  Still...  it's fun. 

Meanwhile, I'm still reeling from reading Sarah Moss' Ghost Wall (2018).  I read it because a review said it was about a group of re-enactors (amateurs, professor, and students) in pursuit of the Iron Age.  Now, I love watching good re-enactors.  I've watched all the Ruth Goodman / Peter Ginn etc. re-enactments - Secrets of the CastleTudor Monastery Farm, Victorian Farm, etc. (all available on Prime Video) and learned a lot.  It's much different watching someone do something you've only read about before.  (Hence John Ruskin's negative reaction on his wedding night.)  

But those were innocuous. Ghost Wall is anything but. The narrator is a girl, almost a young woman, who, we eventually learn, is living with constant domestic abuse.  It builds slowly, so that when it comes, it's like a slap in the face, and then two slaps, and then a blow, and then...  until...  which is exactly how landsharks (male and female) operate. 

It is a masterpiece, but it should come with trigger warnings.  You have been warned.  

Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.

This would be a good time to recommend Netflix's The Elephant Whisperers. Bomman and Belli, two Tamil, live and work in Mudumalai National Park, which is in the heart of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book territory. They're entrusted with orphaned baby elephants. And it's a wonder. I'll never forget seeing Belli walking down a jungle trail with one of the elephants following her like a lamb. Or where one elephant ages out of living with them, and is moved, and the remaining baby elephant Raghu, is almost inconsolable.  Bomman and Belli's floral wedding, with elephants.  Maybe I'll watch it again tonight.  I'll sleep a lot better than last night...

And now for some BSP:

My story, "Cool Papa Bell", is in Josh Pachter's Paranoia Blues;

Just because you're in prison doesn't mean there's no more crime...

And on Amazon HERE

My noir novella, Cruel as the Grave is in Crimeucopia:  We'll Be Right Back

There's nothing like toxic friendships, murder and a South Dakota winter to make everybody crazy...

Available on Amazon HERE.

You can keep a secret for a long time in a small town, but eventually it will come out...  And always at the wrong time...

On Amazon HERE.


  1. Thanks for sharing with us. We don't really get snow here in Brittany, so it's interesting to see how bitterly cold and beautiful winter can be elsewhere. Appreciate the film reviews too.

  2. Congratulations on your new stories!
    Good luck with the snow. We've had almost none and as a result our water line from the well froze- no escape from winter one way or the other.

  3. I envy you, Cameron - Brittany is beautiful, and all that wealthy of megaliths!
    And Anonymous, that's awful about your well.
    May we all stay warm and safe.

  4. I loved the movie In Bruges so I was excited to see a new movie with the same director, writer, and stars, but BANSHEES was nothing by depressing. I find it to be a real U-shaped curve too: people either love it or hate it.

  5. Eve, it sounds like you got all of New York's snow as well as your own. We haven't seen a flake yet. Thanks so much for the reviews. I'm not surprised about Banshees—I suspected as much and will continue to avoid it. If I bother with one or two Oscar nominees a year these days, it's a lot, and "depressing" is one of my chief rule-out criteria. I'll check out "The Elephant Whisperers" and "Stonehouse."

  6. Thanks for the tips, Eve! These are great!

  7. Great reviews Eve. Hope some warm weather is on your horizon!

  8. I loved the snow but I don't miss the winters. I like your photos, Eve.

    I'm without television, but it sounds like I'm not missing much.

    Congratulations on the anthologies, Eve. I'll check them out.

  9. Thanks everyone! We're getting some melting for the next week, but then we're going back into the deep freeze. Oh, well...


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