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drive-by rec: The Good Place

The Good Place is a half-hour comedy airing on NBC currently; it's eight episodes into a thirteen-episode season and I'm enjoying it very much. Eleanor (Kristen Bell) wakes up in The Good Place where Michael, the architect of that particular neighborhood (Ted Danson), tells her that her deeds as a human rights lawyer won her a rare spot in the desirable afterlife (which most religions get only about 5% right). Except . . . that wasn't her. She's there by mistake.

Fortunately for her, she is also assigned a soulmate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper), who was an ethics professor and who reluctantly agrees to help her so that she isn't sent to The Bad Place.

I really like the way the show keeps complicating things; it's using admirable pacing to unfold a lot of plot and character development in a very compact space -- again, thirteen episodes, which were plotted in full ahead of time (per this interview with creator Michael Schur). Also, it's funny. And as with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Schur's other currently-running show (which I also enjoy greatly), white dudes are in the minority: in fact, there's only one, Michael, among the six main characters (three women; three POC).

Anyway, some very interesting SFF happening here, in a pretty low-commitment form; check it out.

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Steven Universe S04E07, "Onion Gang"

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Apparently we are now on hiatus with no announced end date??!! Arrgh.

I was thinking about doing a rewatch, once the daily summer episodes ended and it felt so weird not to be thinking about SU so often, and I dunno, I still might—I didn't see a lot of the early episodes and one a day isn't really that much, though it might not be every weeknight.

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finished cross-stitch: overdyed red dragon

So this Overdyed Red Dragon by Dragon Dreams was a gift at Christmas 2008, a.k.a. the Christmas after people heard that I'd started cross-stitching again to make stuff for SteelyKid's room. I started it in 2010 on a scroll frame (skeletal picture), but that meant it went very slowly because I do most stitching on my lunch break at work, and bringing the scroll frame in seemed a little much.

After experimenting with stitching in the hand, I took it off the scroll frame in November 2015 and brought it into work; at that point I'd finished the body through about, oh, draw a line up from the edge of the right-most claw. Up close, you can see where the stitches become a bit fuller because of the change, but I don't think it's obvious if you aren't looking for it. So I finished the body and did the metallic threads, the backstitching of the solid parts, and the belly scales. And then I came to a screeching halt when the thread I had for the wings was the wrong color—it was what was specified by the pattern, but the manufacturer must've changed the color. I went on A Quest to find overdyed thread with a lot of red, blue, and purple: made a couple of trips to moderately-local stores, ordered literally half-a-dozen things off the Internet (half of which required test stitching to rule in or out), and finally gave up and ordered the same color as the belly scales, except in silk not cotton. Way less blue than the model, but it was the best I was going to do.

I do regret that I stitched the wings on the short diagonal, not the long one, which I think would make more sense anatomically, but I started with the top narrow section, had to rip out substantial portions at least twice (not counting all the test stitches), and so I was very much not in the mood to redo that entire section when I got to the first wide section and realized what I'd done.

Here are some pictures! Taken with my phone, because I get very direct sunlight into my office at a certain point in the day and taking pictures with indoor overhead lighting is always unsatisfying. The fabric is a pale steel-grey/blue-ish, not white. Click to make ginormous.

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Anyway, I did this first as kind of a test run for the other dragon pattern I received that Christmas, as they are both large and use metallic thread. There's one little thing I want to do before I start that, but then full speed ahead! (I think I'm going to try stitching it in the hand, just because it is so fast for whole stitches, but we'll see how it goes; wrangling a much wider piece of fabric might be too difficult. Though if I don't, I'll probably go with Q-snaps instead of the scroll frame, for convenience.)

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Rome, Thursday

Oh hey, this post was basically ready to go--not many photos and for some reason I'd already captioned them.

I skipped morning tourism because despite being deliberately abstemious at the wedding, I woke up with a seriously unhappy stomach. So I slept for a while and then went on a quest for just plain bread--I think if I'd been in a French-speaking country I could've bought a loaf at any store with counter service, but instead the two deli-ish places I tried had pastries and sandwiches and big hunks of cured meats, but no big hunks of bread. I had to go into an actual grocery store for a loaf of bread (and it wasn't very tasty, though I may have grabbed the wrong kind). But I also found some crackers that were exactly like miniature dry toast, which sounds terrible but was just what I wanted. Also, to my surprise, antacids are behind-the-counter items in Italian pharmacies. (Having no data on my phone, I had thought to look up the word back on the hotel's wifi. It is, fortunately, "antiacido.")

I met up with our group for a tour of the Basilica of San Clemente, which was great, and the Colosseum. San Clemente is a three-fer: a Middle Ages church with a ceiling and walls that were later redecorated but original mosaics up front, which are very beautiful and of which I have no pictures because they aren't allowed; try Wikimedia and this representative picture of the glorious floor; a fourth-century church underneath that, with frescos dating somewhat later; and two first-century buildings, one a Mithraeum and the other something probably commercial, like a warehouse. You have to pay to go into the excavations, and I'm not sure how informative the signs would be without a guide, but the top level is definitely worth a look.

Then to the Colosseum, which is of course giant and impressive: capacity of 40-70 thousand people! Designed to let them all out in ten minutes! Elevators to get the animals, special effects, gladiators, etc., up from down below the stage! A retractable roof! The exterior has just been cleaned and the interior is in progress, which makes an impressive difference, as you'll see in the pictures. We'd heard about the history on the first day's tour, plus it was very very hot, so it wasn't the absolutely fascinating experience it could've been on first meeting, but it was still really interesting.

Then dinner on the roof of the Hotel Artemide, which had amazing gelato--I don't know if they make it in-house, but I had cream, strawberry, mixed berry, and chocolate, and while the mixed berry was maybe a little too berry for my own tastes, it was all good, and the chocolate was a standout: stunningly intense.

The photo set is only for the Colosseum and includes one picture of the exterior from earlier in the trip.

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Rome, Wednesday

I haven't given up on blogging this June trip! (I wrote all the day reports on the plane coming home, it's just the pictures that needed sorting, and this one was daunting.)

On Wednesday we were meeting at the Galleria Borghese in the early afternoon, so I slept in a little and we meandered over in that direction mid-morning. We first walked around the adjacent park, just to get our bearings, and saw green parrots in the umbrella pines--we'd been told there were some in the park the day before, but hadn't seen any.

Then we went to the Piazza del Popolo, mostly to see the Basilica there. This was lovely: small enough that you could see the ceiling and the backs of the chapels, which were themselves remarkably varied, and all the beautiful decorative stonework that I've come to love in Rome. (We are contemplating renovating our kitchen, among other things, and picked out granite for countertops and tile for the floor so the contractors could price things out, and it was a really good thing that we did that before coming to Rome, or I might've got very ambitious in that regard.)

Then a quick light lunch and cutting through the Spagna subway station to get back to the Galleria--not only does it have lots of escalators so you can avoid climbing the giant hill, but it has a bunch of cool art, too!

The Galleria is amazing. You're strictly limited to a two-hour visit so I actually liked having a tour guide for this, because unless you plan to do multiple visits there is SO MUCH that it really helps to have someone filter stuff for you (and tell you anecdotes about painters being thrown in prison until they agree to hand over to the Cardinal, for free, the painting that someone else had commissioned, things like that). I still regret not being able to explore at my leisure, of course, but geez, Bernini was a flat-out genius, wasn't he? (Though I could wish that two of his masterpieces there weren't about rape (the Rape of Proserpine; Apollo and Daphne).) The paintings were less stunning to me, on the whole, but there were still a bunch of good ones and I took a ton of pictures (many of which didn't survive this cull; sadly there seem to be only a few pictures at the Galleria's website, under "masterpieces").

Then there was the wedding, which was lovely and also very fancy, being at the Palazzo Brancaccio. There's a picture of my outfit in the set; I wore those shoes for five whole hours and did not break a heel or an ankle on the cobblestones, which I think was pretty darn good, though I did not actually walk from our hotel to the venue in them. (I am so not cut out for high fashion.)

Here is the photo gallery for the day (click on the first photo, then click the little "i" in a circle at the top right, then hover over the right side of the photo to show the arrow that lets you move through the gallery in order).

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giant children continue growing, even more giant now

So the Pip started kindergarten today (SteelyKid started third grade on Tuesday), and we got a picture of them hugging me while waiting for the bus to match last year's.

THEY ARE SO HUGE.

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Kindergarten seems to have gone well; he made a delightful self-portrait, and he was cheerful though very very tired this evening. (SteelyKid's an old hand at this now and is also doing great.)

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