New Music

Music I’ve bought this month.

My plan to cut down on buying new music to give me more of a chance to actually listen to what I’m buying is showing results! Plot twist: I haven’t listened to any of these albums — I’m still trying to catch up with the stuff I’ve bought earlier.


jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Laraaji&album=Arji+OceAnanda+Dallas+Acid jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Blaupunkt&album=Blaupunkt jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Laraaji+%26+Lyghte&album=Celestial+Realms jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Pregoblin&album=Combustion jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Drew+Daniel%2C+John+Wiese&album=Continuous+Hole
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Ossia&album=Devil's+Dance jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Jay+Glass+Dubs&album=Epitaph jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Rema+Rema&album=Fond+Reflections+(1)%3A+Demos+and+Demolitions jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Rema+Rema&album=Fond+Reflections+(1)%3A+Wheel+in+the+Roses+(Extended) jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=LCD+Soundsystem&album=Freak+Out+Starry+Eyes
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Xiu+Xiu&album=Girl+with+Basket+of+Fruit jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Irreversible+Entanglements&album=Irreversible+Entanglements jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Melanie+de+Biasio&album=No+Deal jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Matmos&album=Plastic+Anniversary jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Thighpaulsandra&album=Practical+Electronics
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Bobbie+Gentry&album=The+Girl+From+Chickasaw+County+(1)%3A+Ode+to+Billie+Joe jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Bobbie+Gentry&album=The+Girl+From+Chickasaw+County+(3)%3A+Local+Gentry jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Cosey+Fanni+Tutti&album=Tutti

CCCB: The Fall of Hyperion

I’ve done too many almond-based goods, so I thought I’d try my hand on some profiteroles with this recipe. Approx. Because I didn’t really want the chocolate part.

Most of the recipes stress how “simple” this recipe is… but it has the normal number of ingredients.

What’s simple, perhaps, is that it uses something as er usual as water as the ingredient that’s supposed to make the dough grow all fluffy in the oven. I mean, most things use either yeast, baking powder/soda or whipped egg whites, but the idea here is that it’s a quite wet dough, so the steam will make the dough puff up. We’ll see!

So you bring the water/butter mixture to a boil…

… and then dump the flour/salt/sugar mixture into it…

And then beat it around until it forms a dough. Then let it cool.

And then add the eggs, a bit at a time, until it reaches a properly semi-runny consistence.

The recipe said to pipe the dough unto a baking sheet, so I did that, but if I ever make this again, I’m not doing that. Because the dough is just so sticky! It pipes well, but I got dough everywhere when trying to get the tip out of the piping bag. Other recipes said to use a couple of spoons instead, and while that doesn’t give as regular-shaped puffs, I think that’s to be preferred.

Not that these are very regular, either.

And up they pop! It works!


Perhaps I over-baked them a bit.

But what do they look like on the inside?

Huh! That’s kinda weird. I didn’t think they were going to be that devoid of interiority (that’s a word).

Well, while they cool down I can pick out a book to read…

As usual, I’m choosing from among the oldest unread books I have. Eenie meenie oh who am I kidding.

I’m postponing that Ulysses as long as I can.

So this week it’s The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons, and I know exactly why I’ve avoided reading this book for more than two decades: I loathed Hyperion.

Why did I buy this one? Because I’m stupid.

I remember whinging and moaning about Hyperion on the interwebs somewhere… was is rec.arts.sf.books? Or somewhere? At the time Simmons was considered a pretty hot ticket, and I just couldn’t understand why everybody else didn’t realise that Hyperion was trash: It’s the Decameron written by a moron as a fixer-upper “novel” of dreary short stories.

I felt that Simmons tried to be Gene Wolfe, but without any of his intelligence or talent.

But I got into an argument with a person that didn’t seem like a moron, and somehow they talked me into buying the followup, because that’s an even better book, according to them.

And, moron that I am, I did. I mean, there’s a gazillion books by authors that I already love that I don’t have time to read, so that’s a very stupid thing to do.

And then I didn’t read it, of course, because .

But now I have to. Perhaps it’s an awesome book!!!!1! I now wipe my mind of all prejudices. This may well be a brilliant book. Perhaps I was mistaken back then or read the book with the wrong attitude.

Deep breath… no prejudices…


But let’s read the first two pages together.

Well, the first thing we notice is that it’s set using a font size that’s way too teensy for me, so I can barely read it.

The other is… that… it’s not horrible?

OK, I’ll try out my new Kobo e-Ink reader, and here’s a mini review: e-Ink is as horrifying as ever: The resolution isn’t high enough, so the typography is all janky, with stems disappearing and there’s an uneven greyness to the text. But I knew that e-Ink was horrible… but what about the Kobo? Well, it’s not very inspiring, either. As you can see, the side lighting is very, very uneven, with the left margin there being 2x lighter than the middle. And the page-turning buttons require way too much force: I’ve now got a permanent ridge on my right thumb from hitting it. And the battery life is pretty bad: I can’t read the entire book without recharging a couple of times.

Other than that, it’s got some nice features. Nice feature 1: I don’t have to shop from Amazon. 2: I can alter what buttons go next/prev and where to tap on the screen to proceed. If I had my druthers, I’d want to be able to tap anywhere to go forward, but it doesn’t allow that. (And then just use a physical button to go back, which I never do anyway.) 3: Err… I think that’s it…

Oh, yeah, Simmons. I find that I’m more forgiving now than I was twenty years ago. Or perhaps this isn’t as horrible a book as the first one.

Simmons’ writing style is a bit on the florid side, but it’s not upchuck inducing. It flows quite well, even if he has a tendency to repeat himself redundantly with repetitions that are repetitive and redundant. The structure of the book is straight-forward, and while I had forgotten the plot of the first book completely, Simmons filled me in gamely, and without resorting to too many As-You-Know-Bob scenes.

No, what’s annoying me this time around about Simmons is that all his characters are straight out of the time the book was written. Or perhaps a decade before. This is a society set, er, I guess a thousand years into the future or something, and it has fabulous technology like teleportation which allows humanity to spread throughout the galaxy, and fabulous AI, and fabulous everything… and all the characters behave, 100%, as they would in the 80s: From micro bits like the above, to all their conversations and concerns.

So we get characters making casual references to, say Lincoln, and nobody says “eh?” It’s like somebody today dropping Baldwin of Boulogne into conversation and people nodding sagely.

Also note: The cruelty in her eyes has now spread to her lips.


And he has a 35mm camera. Because of course he does.

This insistence that all these technologies don’t change society goes from annoying to eye-roll inducing: Here’s the backstory on one of the protagonists: He’s from a well-to-do family… but he was sent into service to pay off the family’s debts (!)… as a bonded manual labourer!

There are so many levels of not-making-even-slightly sense here that you have to wonder whether Simmons does shit like this just to piss even people with two functioning brain cells off, so that only complete morons will finish his books? I mean, this is a society with magnificent AIs and robots, but… to pay off debts? This guy’s sold off as a manual labourer slave?

If it’s a huge amount of money, how can you make that much money as a manual labourer? I mean, how can somebody else make that much money off of you being a manual labourer? If it’s a small amount, why not just become a waiter instead for a few years?


When the book’s not pulling moronic crap like this on the reader, it’s stopping us in our tracks waving THERE”S FORESHADOWING HERE!!! HERE!!!! LOOK!!! Like in the conversation where the general poo-poos the idea that they don’t know where the Evil Attackers are, and I assume all readers went “oh, OK, they’ve already invaded the entire galaxy and are just lying in wait, sub-light-speed, even if that means they’ve been planning this for a few hundred years”.

And guess what happens a few chapters later.


Simmons is just so bad at world building and plotting. Basically everybody else who writes galaxy-spanning space opera has a better grip on the mechanics.

Simmons stresses how obscure christianity are in the days of the book, but it seems like half the characters are either christian or are deeply intimate with the entire mythos. And, as I suspected when I started this book, the plot slowly reveals itself to be all about religion, which, of course, I find to be a snoozefest.

Oh, well, back to finish the cream puffs…

I’m filling the puffs with whipped cream, but I’ve got various things to add different flavours to the cream. I’ve got cloudberry syrup, liquorice powder ans ammonium salts.

I got this piping tip today: It’s really meant for piping jam into Berliners, and I’m not sure it’s going to be a good idea to use that long spout for cream… takes a lot of pressure…

Whip it.

Well… that seems to work: The cream makes it through the spout.

It does work! Creamy!

But that long spout thing just took too much effort. I switched to using a regular tip, but used the long spout to tap the holes into the puffs.

I did one quarter with plain cream, and then one quarter with this cloudberry syrup I’ve never seen before. I love cloudberries, but using them in many ingredients is a pain: They’re 80% pits, and while those pits are crunchy and edible, that crunch is not something you want when you don’t want it. Which is almost always.

But this syrup had a full, sweet, intense cloudberry flavour, and went perfectly with the cream.

For the last two quarters, I did liquorice extract: One with salmiak and one without. I may have dumped slightly more of this stuff than is healthy, but it’s very yum.

There! All filled up! Piping them was a pain at first, because I didn’t know when they were full, so I burst a couple. But then after a while I got the hang of feeling when it felt full by how it expands slightly, and then it was OK.

So how do they go with the book?

Mmm… that’s a lot of liquorice. The shell is crispy and pretty tasty, but it’s definitely a bit on the overdone side. I should have baked them perhaps five minutes less, I think.

Oh, wow. The cloudberry cream is divoon. Incredibly tasty, especially in these puffs.

Back to the book: The christian sub-text to the book is pretty evident throughout, but when he goes into over exegesis mode you can but sigh.


I don’t really hate this book, I find. Sure, it’s painfully humourless, and sure, all the characters sound and act exactly the same (even if they’re described as being oh so different), and sure, the christian stuff is really grating.

But it also has some pretty good plot twists that I didn’t see coming, and I found myself eagerly wanting to know what’s going to happen next, even if I was pretty sure that whatever’s going to happen would be pretty stupid. If you just switch your brain off and let go of any expectations that this is going to be, like, smart, it’s a pretty entertaining read.

Keith Giffen / K. K. Kitten

I finally read the second volume in IDW/Eurocomics brilliant reprinting of the Sinner series by José Muñoz and Carlos Sampayo. It was was published about a year ago, but I somehow missed it.

One of the shorter pieces in the book, Over Some Drawings, seems to call out for more attention than it got. I thought surely the twitters and the blogs had to be all er atwitter about this story, but I googled and the only mention I could find was on a Swedish language blog.


This story is about a South American comic book artist, José Martinez, who feels that an American comic book artist is plagiarising him:

So he’s travelling to meet up with him…

… and break his hands.

This is interesting beyond the story itself because the plagiarism thing is true: A super-hero comic book artist called Keith Giffen spent several years in the 80s bewildering his fans by drawing in an exiting, fresh style that seemed to come out of nowhere. And then The Comics Journal did an exposé and demonstrated that Giffen’s panels were swipes, line by line, from José Muñoz’ panels.

In this story, Muñoz’ analogue José Martinez confronts the American comic book artist, here called K. K. Kitten.

Kitten first defends his swipes as “inspiration”…

… and then absolutely refuses to apologise because swiping Muñoz’ style was a commercial mistake.

The story has two endings: In Alack Sinner’s dream, Martinez seems to kill Kitten, or at least beat him up bad.

In reality, as Sinner finds out from a newspaper, Kitten killed Martinez.

It’s hard to tell from this story whether Sampayo/Muñoz are just goofing around, or whether Martinez’ feelings are representative of their own feeling on the issue. The “real” ending seems to suggest the latter, I think, but the depiction of Kitten as living in a mansion and smoking a pipe seems to suggest the former.

Perhaps nobody’s talking about this because nobody bought the book? It’s a great book: Some of the mid-period Sinner stories dissolve into confusion, but this volume has two very well-made and satisfying classic noir stories. And Muñoz artwork, as always, is just transcendent. I give it all thumbs up: One of the best collections of comics released last year.

NFLX2019 April 5th: Unicorn Store

Unicorn Store. Brie Larson. 2017. ☆☆☆★★★

Huh. Brie Larson? But she’s Captain Marvel? Two movies released at the same time?


It screened in the Special Presentations section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. It was released on April 5, 2019, by Netflix.

So it’s two years old, but now suddenly it’s a “Netflix Original”? Hm… perhaps that means that nobody would pick up the movie for distribution? But then Netflix did… for release at the same time as Captain Marvel?

Anyway: This movie was released on Netflix yesterday, which means that I’ve officially caught up with the Netflix release schedule, and further entries in this blog series will be pretty close to release dates. Probably.

This is a cute little movie. It goes for a zany cooky vibe. Think… er… Yeah, like that TV series Dead Like Me. Perhaps it aims for Wes Anderson, but it hits Bryan Fuller.

It’s like it doesn’t have confidence in itself. Brie Larson, when confronted with craziness, is given lines like “This is crazy!” And all scenes of wonder are fully scored with tinkly winkly orchestral music, like they have to tell the audience, yet again, that something wondrous and kooky is happening before their very eyes.

So it doesn’t really help that much that Brie Larson is charming and Samuel L Jackson does his usual magical wise guy bit.

But there’s little bits in here that it’s impossible not to snicker at. And the characters are charming. It’s OK, but it works best when it avoids the drama.

I can see how the final scenes gave everybody cancer. It’s a lot.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 March 29th: The Highwaymen

The Highwaymen. John Lee Hancock. 2019. ☆★★★★★

Does it say anything about our times that Netflix found it attractive to make a movie about Bonnie & Clyde where the heroes are the men who hunt them down? Or is it just the result of a random walk performed by the Netflix movie generator script?

I’m thinking it’s the latter, because this movie is nothing but clichés strung together, from the hire-the-retired-cop-for-a-final-job to… well, every cinematographical choice made.

Oh, right, it’s yet another project that Netflix picked up after all the other movies passed on it for more than a decade:

The film had been in development for many years, with producer Casey Silver looking into the project as early as 2005. Originally pitched by Fusco as a possible Paul Newman and Robert Redford project, the film began development at Universal Pictures but never came to fruition.


The production reportedly had a budget of $49 million.

It doesn’t look like it, so I’m guessing 90% of that budget went to the Waterworld guy and the Cheers guy.

I can see why the Netflix ML chose to pick up this movie: There’s a sizeable audience that wants to see the Waterworld and the Cheers guy talk half an octave below their natural ranges about manly, manly stuff. The level of gruff cannot be overstated. The movie is one “cool” scene after another. I mean, you can’t beat the Waterworld guy going into a gun shop and buying half their stock to the bewilderment of the sissy-men gun sellers. Whooo-heee! *punches air*

It’s a risibly heavy-handed movie. If you can’t switch off your eye-rolling instinct you’ll miss two thirds of the movie.

I like slow movies, but this doesn’t really have anything more to fill the ponderousness with than TV cop show clichés.

It’s a pretty loathsome movie: it’s a paean to police brutality and murder, but it’s also whiffy in other ways, like the lingering shots of stunningly fake 30s destitution which looks like they’ve rolled in a bunch of extras and painted them up with Dirt, The Make-Up For Hobo Parties.


Heh heh::

An insolent gas station attendant claims not to have any intel on the culprits’ whereabouts, and that he wouldn’t share it even if he did, so Hamer assaults him. He then gives a stirring speech about responsibility and justice to take the edge off of the casual police brutality, and the man nursing a mouthful of broken teeth undergoes a change of heart.


In conclusion: This movie is insanely boring, and for that I deduct one ☆ it perhaps deserved otherwise.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 March 29th: 15 August

15 August. Swapnaneel Jaykar. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

Hey! Another Indian movie. Netflix are really going after the Indian market?

The other (three?) Indian movies so far this year haven’t all bin good, but they have a better track record than the American Netflix movies, so I’m excited.

One slight puzzling thing about the Indian Netflix movies is that none of them have been… well… entertainment? They’ve all dealt with some Social Issue. This one looks like it’s going to be more fun, but still no big dance numbers.

The cinematography is playful and interesting. It’s mostly subdued colours… perhaps a bit too adjusted towards teal? But it’s quite picaresquely pretty.

You know what this movie reminds me of? Fellini’s most meandering looks at small town life. It’s got the huge cast and the way the film progresses less by plot than by scenes happening adjacent to each other.

You’ve also got the humour and the tragedy and everything intertwined.

In these kinds of movies, it all depends on the cinematography (which this movie has nailed) and the acting. Which is… Well, you can’t do naturalistic acting, but the style they’ve adapted here isn’t super-stylised either. It’s kinda just TV acting. Which is a pity.

This is basically a farce (with a very annoying central conceit), but it’s not actually funny. It feels way too long. I can understand why, because individual scenes have good pacing, and they probably wanted to have it build and build in absurdity.

I loved the bit where the forlorn lover is looking forlornly at his beloved and it starts pouring rain. Most amusing. And the over-the-top ending is brilliant. But it took us a long time to get there.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

CCCB: Marya: A Life

Last week I did croissants to indifferent results, so why not try something that has almost as bad reputation for being tricky: Macarons.

And then I found this recipe for liquorice macarons. Yes! But then I started to study it, and it seems kinda odd. I mean 2 cups of chocolate chips for the filling? That’s (according to Google) 350g? That’s… a lot of filling for 20 little crackers.

So I googled on and found this one, which has 120g chocolate for 16 macarons.


I mostly went with the latter recipe, but I left out the cocoa and added liquorice powder.

The usual collection of ingredients…

I used 200g of white chocolate. The first recipe said to melt the chocolate in the micro and then stir into the hot cream/liquorice, which sounds reasonable to me, but the other said to just head the cream and then add the chocolate directly. Less work! So let’s go with that.

Cream and liquorice. Yum yum.

Add chocolate. And it melted straight away. Strangely enough, the mixture got a very heavy caramel flavour… was it too hot? Did the chocolate sugars caramelise? I mean, it’s not a bad flavour, but it’s unexpected. You can hardly taste the liquorice…

Anyway, into the fridge harden up for an hour or so.

For the macaron shells, I’m grinding up some almonds. I googled a lot to find out whether using unblanched almonds was acceptable for macarons, and google said… no! yes! no! yes!

So I gave it a go.

And sifted the almond flour to get rid of bigger chunks. I think about three quarter of the almonds made it through.

And then mix up the dry stuff…

Whip up egg whites and sugar…

Mix mix mix.

Pipe pipe pipe…

Pipe pipe… Oh, they float out a bit more than I thought. Those are perhaps on the big side.

And that’s the only silicone mat I have, so let’s go with baking paper for the second sheet. And these are somewhat smaller.

Let’s hope they don’t stick too much… or swell up so much that they join up…

Then they’re supposed to be out in the open for half an hour to dry out a bit and form a “skin” on the top. I guess that’s to… er… to… keep shape in the oven? To… er… it’d be nice if recipes explained stuff…

OK, they came out…


I forgot the food colouring! These were supposed to be black!


Well, too late now.

They look kinda like macaron shells, don’t they? What with the frothiness at the bottom and the smooth top.

I’m not all that impressed with this silicone mat: They stick quite a bit… I mean, nothing dramatic, but I had hoped that there’d be no stickingness. But I got all six of the large-macaron first batch off.

And then the second batch with more misshapen, but smaller ones. They didn’t all flow together into one macaron landscape! Yay!

Looks OK to me.

Hey! The baking paper is a lot better than the silicone mat… I think I’ll just ditch it.

And now they just have to chill before I can put them together with the ganache, so I can choose a book to read while eating them.

Well, there’s not much to choose between here, is there? Among the books I bought in the early 90s, but have avoided reading (so far) there’s only three left, and I choose Marya: A Life, by Joyce Carol Oates.

I had two books by Oates in this series: The first one was a solid collection of horror stories. This one, I’m guessing, is more horrifying: Just based on the title (I’m neurotic about never reading the back cover of books), my guess is that this the tragic life story of somebody growing up poor, with abusive parents, and then sexually abused as a child, and then raped as an adult, and then marrying an abusive guy, before getting an abusive son and a cruel daughter.

I don’t mean to be dismissive! I bought it myself (on a sale, I think), and I’m pretty sure that Oates is a good author. I’ve read a bunch of her essays in the New York Review, for instance, and she’s smart and interesting.

But I’m honest here, and that’s why I haven’t read it yet: Every time my eyes have scanned the spine of this book, my own spine has gone jello and I’ve just “I can’t”.

But let’s see! Perhaps I’m all wet and this is about something fun!

Huh. There’s a couple of names on the inside front cover? Did I buy this used? It’s totally unread, anyway, so Rune & … Lina? didn’t read it either after buying it.

Huh. That’s odd. It’s copyrighted by The Ontario Review? Oh!

It’s Oates’ own publication:

Ontario Review, A North American Journal of the Arts, was published from 1974 to 2008 by Raymond J. Smith and Joyce Carol Oates.

More confusing is that portions of this book has previously been published all over the place, in ten different magazines. And there’s 11 chapters in this book. Is this really a short story collection that’s been novelified (that’s a word)?

Oh, well, let’s read the first two pages together:

OK, we’ve got a nice father, but an abusive mother. Semi-check on my prejudices.

And the sexual abuse starts when Marya is eight (an older cousin).


Oates, on a paragraph by paragraph basis, is a great writer. She drops these little details here and there that feel so true, and it all flows so easily. Even when being obscure, there’s she pulls the reader along.

But now the macarons should be all chill and stuff.

I got… ten and a half macarons. The recipe said 16, and with my four supersized ones, that sounds about right.

Mmm! That ganache sure looks… er… uhm…

OK, let’s pipe it.

That’s not so bad!

For half of the macarons, I wanted to add some ammonium chloride, because that’s what goes with liquorice.


And I added some black food colouring, too. It was supposed to go in the dough and not in the ganache, but whateves.

Well, that’s a… colour…

Look! How… well they… go… together…

Anyway, I pipe it onto the shells and…

That looks like a macaron!

So let’s read some Marya and see how they go with the book…

Mmmm! Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. And the ganache is really good. Especially after resting in the fridge for some hours, the brownish non-ammonia ganache surrenders some of its caramel flavour and gives you more liquorice action.

But the salmiak ganache is so much better. You can’t really taste the ammonium chloride that much, but the ammonium salt has elevated the liquorice flavour itself hugely. It really smacks you about with its total liquoriceness. (That’s a word.)

Oh, yeah, I forgot that the recipe called for edible silver dust, too. I’m really bad at remembering those aesthetic details, apparently…

Nom nom. These are really quite something.

Anyway, my predictions for this book seem to turn out to be wildly inaccurate. Instead of a catalogue of horrifying things Marya has to go through, instead we seem to be whiplashed between various random characters that Marya encounters. And the styles are pretty random, too… In the chapter about one of her high school teachers, we seem to get into an elegiac circling structure. (He’s introduced and then almost killed off within the chapter.)

In the next one, we get the story about when she wanted to become Catholic, so we’re introduced to a priest (who’s then killed off), and the style shifts to this rambling formless thing.

Which brings me back to my initial suspicion: Is this novel a fixer-upper? Oates has taken a series of short stories (about Marya, I’d guess) and then slightly moulded it into something resembling a novel? It’d also explain some of the repetition that creeps in here and there, as Oates familiarises us with some stuff we’ve just read a dozen pages earlier.

I wouldn’t really call it a short story collection, either. It’s a collection of anecdotes arranged chronologically. Some of these anecdotes feel very personal, which makes me wonder whether this is a semi-autobiographical book.

The most anecdotey of all these anecdotes is the one about the awful janitor.

To be fair, in the final… er… I don’t want to call them “chapters”… In the final section of the book, Oates ties some threads together, and almost successfully makes this into a… thing. Because as well-written as these anecdotes are, reading one after another in this way, where no anecdote leads to something more, something important, something that builds…

It’s not very exciting.