Saturday Morning Brain Drain [5/6/21]

A place to let it all out

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What I watched: We now move on to another British police drama, set in Northumberland in Northeast England. Based upon the books by Ann Cleeves, there are eleven seasons to it. The lead character is Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, a curmudgeonly woman who feels a bit like a grumpier Columbo, right down to the rumpled overcoat and hat. I like it because it often takes me most of the 1 and 1/2 hour show to figure out “who done it”.  Here is the official trailer, followed by a clip from season five:

I also watched this spoken word video by a talented young man with whom I meet each year for marketing inspiration. This is After Her, by January Black, the alter ego of the marvelous Cole Schafer.

What I read: I read The Wrexford & Sloane Series by Andrea Penrose.  The books are mysteries set in Regency England and populated with scientists, minor nobility, rescued street children, and engaging characters. Charlotte Sloane is a satirical artist masquerading as her dead husband to support herself, and The Earl of Wrexford is a reluctant sleuth. They get better as the series goes on; some series weaken with additional books, much like the sophomore slump album of many a band – that is not the case here.

I also read Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry. This book is set in the depression era dustbowl of the south and west, and is thick with underlying menace, evil, betrayal, and magic. A young girl with the ability to connect with animals via thought pictures joins a carnival full of other-talented freaks, run by a child-eating demon. Ms. Henry is of Sierra Leonean ancestry, and writes with heartbreaking truth as she uses poverty and racism as a matter-of-fact backdrop for the story.

What I listened to this week: Willie J Healey, Subterraneans; Ghost Funk Orchestra, Walk Like A Motherfucker; and Warhaus, Bang Bang.

So, darling DeadSplinterites, how is everyone doing today? Are you climbing out into public, or do you continue to enjoy isolation? What have you watched, read, or listened to? Please drop by, dearest ones, and tell us, as Marvin said, what’s going on!

About Elliecoo 523 Articles
Four dogs, one partner. The dogs win.


  1. Bacchanal looks good – thanks for the rec Elliecoo!
    I watched the first season of Startup on Netflix – it was pretty good. Started second season and got bored after about the third episode. Started The Nevers – HBOMax – thought I would love it but lo and behold – bored by about the fourth episode. I feel like it’s the casting – no one seemed particularly dynamic. Maybe it’s just me these days.

  2. I watch several Youtube documentary channels.  Can kind of vet them because sometimes they consolidate some info I’ve known for a while.  I like them because they also sometimes reveal info that I wasn’t aware of.  As far as I know: not peddling too much over the top bullshit or bad takes.
    DarkDocs -sort of conspiracy but actual dark projects that happened.
    Cold Fusion – a variety of different stories in science/business
    The History Guy – one guy’s take/telling of obscure history or obscure facts about well known history
    MegaProjects – engineering and science projects
    Mark Felton Productions – general history

  3. Watched:  An old Disney made for TV movie called Miracle at Midnight.  It was a very-Disney-ish adaptation of the true story of a Danish town which successfully hid and then smuggled thousands of Jewish residents over to Sweden to get away from the Nazis.  We watched it mostly for Sam Waterston.

    Read:  Ho Chi Bear and the Ravens.  I read this on Pocket but it took me to this great website from which I’m going to have to read more stories called  They publish true accounts of various types and if this one story is any indication of the quality of the writing, then I think it will be a worthwhile place to do more reading.  Anyway, this story is about a CIA-funded part of the shadow war in Laos against North Vietnam, and the American pilots who worked for a Hmong general.  It is gripping, funny and horrific in only the way that war can be.  When I was younger, I grew up with the tail end of idealized war films, but after Saving Private Ryan came out I started to read more non fiction from writers like Hampton Sides (Ghost Soldiers is an excellent read), and now those war-as-glory films just piss me off. Anyway…

    What I listened to:  Joe Satriani has popped up in my recents list the most this past week.


  4. I love Vera! That’s a great show.
    I watched Candice Renoir on Acorn, it’s subtitled, about a woman who gets divorced and returns to work as a cop after 10 years at home with her children. She gradually gains her co-workers respect after a rocky start while dealing with home-life drama.

  5. Watched Boss Level (Hulu). A fun action movie that doesn’t waste time on tryin to explain the whole time loop schtick. A bunch of assassins are out to kill the main guy. Instead of dying, he wakes up and relives the same day and retains the memory of everything that happened previously. I enjoyed Frank Grillo’s numerous topless torso scenes (I’m a sucker for that type of bad boy Italian American). Lots of car chases, fight scenes, and creative assassinations. The plot is lame but that’s ok because it’s just an excuse for the action. Michelle Yeoh has a minor role (I ❤️ her! So that was a nice surprise).

  6. Watching Mare of Easttown on HBO Max. It’s okay. I’m not a big fan of Kate Winslet and it’s doing nothing to change my mind. Jean Smart is really good though. Guy Pearce is in it too but is so underused that he’ll have to turn out to be the killer. Otherwise why did they bother casting him.

    I’m reading The Committed by Viet Than Nguyen. It’s the sequel to The Sympathizer. So far I like it.

  7. What I watched: An old episode of “Bewitched” (it was in black & wine; Samantha was pregnant with Tabitha) where for reasons I needn’t go into Sam conjures an individual serving of cherries jubilee for Darren. It was in an ice cream glass and was aflame. Having told you how to make this yourself in FYCE I felt immensely proud. As an amateur food historian I now have proof that cherries jubilee rode a crest of popularity circa 1964. 
    What I read: a recipe for rabbit that takes three days to make. It’s in a book of Roman recipes I have. I may post it for its curiosity value. It’s not ancient, from the Imperial days, it’s a rustic recipe though that’s probably been around for centuries. At one step though you stick ingredients in a fridge overnight so it’s been modernized.

    • @MarrhewCrawley I may have mentioned this…the Carnivore plied me with cocktails and conned me into buying rabbit from the local butcher. I t came wrapped in white paper and I assumed it would at least be in scallops, like veal. Nope. Entire skinned rabbit complete with head, ears, and tail area. I  couldn’t even look at it. And it was given away.

    • @MatthewCrawley do you ever watch Ann Reardon (How To Cook That) on youtube? She’s mostly a baking channel but she has a 200 year old cookbook she recreates recipes from sometimes. It’s pretty interesting because they don’t give units of measurement or instructions in any kind of normal way so she has to infer a lot. 

      • Not Anne Reardon’s show specifically but I watch some programming like this and read much, much more. I mostly go with the Victorians because there’s so much that is written down, what they ate is more familiar, and it is with the Victorians that you see the introduction of measures and times, etc. 

        • …so there’s a thing I kept almost-but-not-quite remembering I meant to ask/ & this has finally made me figure out what it was

          …there’s a show on BBC radio 4 where people talk about food…actually I’m pretty sure there’s more than one but one in particular regularly features a food historian & if you haven’t come across them before I figured it might be the sort of thing you’d get a kick out of?

  8. Not too much overall, my time-management has been pretty poor this week, even by my sub-par standards…
    Currently reading Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett.  I really should try to get out of bed and hit up the library now that they are open.
    Slowly working my way through the 5th season of The Expanse.  I really like that show, I feel it has one of the more realistic depictions of vacuum and zero-G for a sci-fi show, and the characters are pretty interesting.

        • …I think the expanse might be the only show where although I’d read all the books that were out before the show I kind of stopped keeping up with the new ones because I wouldn’t mind seeing where the show goes before I read the print version?

          …I took a while to notice that but when I did it made me think I might like that show a bunch more than I’d realised?

    • Sometimes I want to dive back into Discworld but then I get sad that Terry Pratchett is dead and won’t be writing more novels. I feel the same about Douglas Adams (who died way too young)…actually I feel the same about all my favorite authors who have passed. Now I’m just feeling sad. Womp womp.

      • I think I’m getting close to the last books in the series, and it is kinda sad.  Although, I don’t think I started reading until after his death, so there is a little bit of detachment in my case.
        But, I do appreciate how the later books have a lot more social commentary.

      • …douglas adams, terry pratchett, iain m banks are all authors I miss a good deal…but I also find their stuff to be the book equivalent of comfort food…I probably shouldn’t try to figure out how many times I’ve read some of their stuff?

      • @elliecoo
        I like how Amos is very good at violence, but doesn’t seem to have much of an ego, or really display much toxic masculinity.  It’s a nice change.
        I wonder how much different the books are, but I already have more authors I love than I can keep up with…

      • Team #AmosXAvasarala 
        I’m only on S5E1 because I’ve been saving the last season for I dunno what? Anyway, all this Expanse talk has got me to finally start watching it.

          • …one thing that I’d argue worked better in the books was avasarala…I think it’s improved a lot now that amazon bought the show but the channels that originally aired the early seasons wouldn’t let her swear…which is sort of a defining characteristic of her in the books…which is not to say she isn’t superbly cast by someone who plays the role excellently

            …I just liked the sweary version of the character a lot?

            • I love how her swearing doesn’t detract from her leadership, poise, and intelligence. I swear a decent amount IRL and I know that it is perceived as unbecoming or some bullshit by uptight individuals. When people are like “but your children!” I let them know that my children will naturally learn code switching (as everyone does) and that they can loosen their grip on those precious pearls. Don’t worry, I do refrain from swearing in front of other people’s children.

              • …I tend to agree…the extent to which she’s a.sort of foul-mouthed force of nature in the books is great…but the version played in the show is perhaps closer than the poised/accomplished politician…which totally works & all…but a woman with immense political capital & the lexicon of the malcolm tucker character from the thick of it/in the loop really was a delight in a lot of ways?

  9. So I started watching the US Gymnastics championship last night. It continues today with men’s events (which I probably won’t watch) and then tomorrow night is day 2 of the women’s events.

    I don’t know how familiar folks are here with the implosion of the Karolyi Ranch, Larry Nassar sexual abuse of gymnasts, and USA Gymnastics covering it up (for fucking decades), but essentially from 2000-2018 the Karolyis and their staff had complete control over what the elite women gymnasts got to do for training. Isolated ranch in Texas, no cell coverage, etc.

    In one of the documentaries about the abuse, a former gymnast talked about how they were abused by Larry Nassar but also he was the nice one. He was the one who didn’t yell at them, he was the one who snuck them food.

    So watching nationals last night, one of things that struck me was that not a single gymnast looked underfed. They looked fucking strong and powerful. On the floor exercise, the problem people had was going out of bounds on tumble passes because they’ve got so much power. There was not a single gymnast where I was like seriously someone get her a sandwich.

    Also, Simone Biles is the GOAT and literally in a class all of her own. She’s fucking amazing. 

    • @brightersideoflife I agree 100% about Simone Biles. Also, from what I observe she appears to have her head on straight. Mature, dedicated, professional attitude, and still conveys a love for her sport. Her skills are amazing to me. Every time she finishes a run/set/meet, I want to applaud her on all levels.

      • Honestly, I think they’re just dealing with years of aggressive pressure and often recurring assault. And when you consider that often Olympic team gymnasts are also 16-18 years old? I don’t know how I would deal with all that build up and abuse and then basically… what happens after the Olympics? Like, careers peak for these athletes at 18 sometimes and then what? Some can coach maybe? Some compete at NCAA level, but the environment is very different.  

  10. teh farscy is not reading
    reading light = giant moths
    im not scared of them….but fuck me are they loud
    anyways..watching : braindead

    it kicks arse in the name of the lord!

    oh yeah!… pretty flexy but those fuckers put me to shame

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