Sunday, February 19, 2012

TSS: A Sunday Ramble

Good morning, and welcome to a rambling edition of The Sunday Salon. After missing the last couple of weeks, it seems like there's a lot to talk about. The lack of winter weather gets top billing around here. In contrast to last year's punishing snow and cold, it appears this will go down as "the winter that wasn't". We have had around 40 inches of snow this season, the least ever by mid-February. We have had a few inches over the past couple of days - just enough to make everything look pretty, but no driving woes or snow shovels for us this weekend!

On the reading front, Venice in February continues. I posted a review for The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan. The audio was well done, but it's not a book you can really claim to enjoy. I also finished Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers and will be trying out a new (to me) mini review style.

I finally started reading The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki. The Japanese names confused me for the first chapter or two, but I made myself a cheat sheet and fell right into the story. This sentence from the back cover says it all:
As told by Junichiro Tanizaki, the story of the Makioka sisters forms what is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century, a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family–and an entire society–sliding into the abyss of modernity.
I purchased this book a year or two ago for The Japanese Literature Challenge and, even though the challenge is over, the time seems right to read it now.

After a long gap, the next letter in our Group Read of Clarissa by Samuel Richardson is dated tomorrow. It's been nearly a month and I'm looking forward to reading more. I wonder what happened during Clarissa's visit to Miss Howe - did she see Lovelace? There are only a few letters this month and I will collect links to all February posts on the 29th. It's still not too late to join in. We will have read only eleven letters (roughly 73 pages) by then. The frequency increases in March, so I'm going to need to budget more reading time next month.

Have you noticed Blogger changed word verification to TWO words? Not only that, it is much harder to decipher the words. It's frustrating when the verification process takes more time than the actual comment. Several months ago, I removed word verification, disallowed anonymous comments, and began moderating comments over five days old. So far there hasn't been a spam problem.

We're now only hours away from tonight's Downton Abbey season finale and I'm already worried about the impending Downton Withdrawal Syndrome (DWS). {If you don't watch the show, I know you think I'm crazy, but do yourself a favor and watch the beginning of season 1. All it takes is one episode and you'll be hooked.} Coping strategies are in the planning stage, but include watching the entire season again (possibly multiple times), trying Upstairs, Downstairs and other series, and reading Downton-themed books. Do you have any suggestions? Are you worried about DWS?

We have a busy day ahead, so I'll wrap this ramble up now. The Syracuse University basketball game is at 1:00 (what a great season!), then dinner with my family, and finally the two hour Downton Abbey finale. Are you on twitter? There's a live party beginning at 9 PM using #DowntonPBS. It's fun to follow the stream even if you don't tweet. I'll see you there!


  1. I've not heard of The Makioka Sisters before but it sounds important so I look forward to your thoughts on it :)

    And I hate the new word verification on blogger. Not only are there two words but they seem A LOT harder to read. I've never moderated comments or had the verification turned on and so far, no spam.

  2. Yeah, like this time last year you had something like 100 feet of snow? It is the same down here. I think I've worn a jacket less than five times. Today it is 80 degrees! I really value the cold weather because it is so stinking hot 9 months out of the year. And this warm weather makes me really worry about hurricane season.

    Everyone just needs to TURN THE WORD VERIFICATION OFF!!! Are you listening out there? I have to approve any comments over a week old, and almost never have any problems. Blogger does an excellent job of catching stuff.

    We have been singly focused on watching all the episodes of The Office. Once we are done with that, I think we will take on Downton Abbey. My daughter has started watching it and is hooked.

  3. The two word code thing is driving me nuts. It's so hard to read the words.

    We've seen Downton Abbey down here in NZ. They had a Christmas special that they've played as well, and they repeated the entire first and second seasons. It's such a great show. I can't wait for more.

  4. I have not checked out Downtown Abbey, but I keep reading wonderful things about it. I guess I will check it out.

  5. The Comfort of Strangers is one of those books it's difficult to say you actually enjoyed!
    I just finished my first book for Venice in February and will review it this week, The Talented Mr. Ripley which I very much enjoyed!

    I'm looking forward to Downton Abbey tonight although sad that it's the last episode. Thank you for the twitter party info.

    I agree that the new word verification words on blogger are difficult to decipher sometimes and two? sooo annoying!

    Have a great afternoon, JoAnn!

  6. Oh, I do hate the new word verification on Blogger! I just went to mine and removed it.

    McEwan's The Comfort of Strangers sounds familiar. I know I haven't read the book...was it a movie, perhaps?

    I really want to watch Downton Abbey, but it seems I don't get it on any of my channels! The DVD, perhaps?

    I haven't been here in your new header.


  7. I'm already having DWS! I just rented and watched Season 1 and after tonight's finale, may just have to purchase the DVDs for both seasons to tide me over till Season 3 airs (eons from now).

  8. I bought the Makioka Sisters last year and have been thinking about reading it, but my reading has been slow going as lately I have too much going on it seems.

    I'm loving this mild winter, although we may pay for it next year.

    Have a great week JoAnn.

  9. The "winter that wasn't" is the perfect way to describe this winter - I am sorry to admit it but I actually miss the snow!

    I guess I don't get enough traffic to invite spam - I haven't ever used word verification and only need to delete the odd spam comment. Anything that makes commenting harder gets the thumbs down from me!

  10. The new word verification has been driving me nuts. I hardly ever get it right the first try and I don't have the time to mess around for too long.
    I need to get season 1 of downton abbey. I know I'll love it.

  11. I have not checked out Downtown Abbey, but I keep reading wonderful things about it. I guess I will check it out.

    chimney pipe

  12. Sam - The Makioka Sisters is shaping up to be a wonderful family story. I love the insight into the culture it's providing.

    Sandy - Last winter was horrible! This reminds of what winter was like when we lived in Connecticut. Hope you don't have to 'pay' for your warm winter either!

    Shelley Munro - I LOVED the Christmas Show/season finale that aired here last night. I'm going to start watching the whole season again!

    DCMetroreader - I hope you get a chance to watch Downton Abbey. The first season is available through Netflix (and on instant), plus I'm sure most libraries would have it.

    Amy - I was wondering about The Talented Mr. Ripley, so will be on the lookout for your review. Wasn't last night's episode amazing?

    Laurel-Rain Snow - The Comfort of Strangers was made into a movie in 1990, so you probably have seen it. Not sure I'm going to watch it though. I do hope you get a chance to enjoy Downton Abbey! Thanks for visiting.

    Jama - I was thinking of purchasing the DVD's, too. I know it's available on Netflix, but my mom would love to watch then, too. I'm also working on an alternate reading/viewing list.

    Diane - The Makioka Sisters requires some concentration at the beginning to sort out the names, etc., but I'm enjoying it very much. Have a good week!

    Booksnyc - I'm feeling bad for the ski areas and snowmobile business around here, too. The season has really been a bust for them. Spam has never been a big issue for me either... blogger's filters are pretty good.

    Stacybuckeye - I'm not getting those word verifications right on the first try either. Seems like it's making us jump through hoops to leave a comment. So frustrating!!

    erwicker - I hope you do! Downton Abbey is an excellent series.

  13. LOVE Downton Abbey! Even my husband shouts out "That's it!?" every single week when the show ends, it's quite funny.

    HATE what's happening on Blogger.

  14. JoAnn, you are so dear to me reading for both the Venice in February challenge and the (now completed for 2011) Japanese Challenge. I've long wanted to read The Makioka Sisters, and I'm glad to hear that you're immersed in it now that you have a little cheat sheet (something I tend to do as well for Japanese, and Russian, novels). I bought Miss Garnet's Angel after hearing so much praise for it, so I'm looking forward to reading that, too. Our reading tastes are so similar!

  15. The Makioka Sisters sounds like an interesting read. (I like Mr. Tanizaki, but he does take a while to get through). This non-winter is driving me nuts! Blizzards aren't necessary, or desired, but a little snow would be nice...perhaps you could assuage your Downton Abbey withdrawal with The Remains of the Day (book or film), or that big, Edwardian country house whodunnit of a few years ago, with Kristin Scott-Thomas and Maggie Smith (among many notable others)?
    Hope SU won--if nothing else, you can look forward to the NCAAs ; )

  16. I have found that Clarissia is getting faster to read after todays. I cant wait till the 24th to read the next letter so hopefully this will also be the case during March when it seems to step up abit.

  17. So much goodness going on in your neck of the woods! I have avoided watching the last two episodes of Downton Abbey because I don't want it to end!!! I like the sound of The Makioka Sisters!

    This crazy winter has me unsettled for some reason but it is what it is, right???

    Have a great week!

  18. I was just thinking about word verification this morning! I don't have the best sight as it is, and the words make me crazy! Your current read sounds interesting. I'm looking forward to reading your review.

  19. The word verification thing is really affecting my commenting these days. I have to cycle through 3-4 word combos before finding one I can read.

  20. I'm anxious to read your review for Miss Garnet's Angel. I have it in my stacks, but doubt I'll get to it before the end of the month. I did manage to read 3 books for the Venice Challenge, so I'm content.

    I turned my verification off, too. Hope Blogger switches back to a single word that's easier to read, but I guess it's not all that necessary. I still moderate my comments.

  21. I am worried...although I have to say the whole Robert/Jane storyline was a little unnecessary, and I was even hoping they'd leave us in suspense over Matthew and Mary. This is not to say I am not counting the days till next season, however many days that is. I did find another DT book, though - it's called Below Stairs and it's the memoir of an Edwardian-era housemaid. It's supposed to be very good... There's another book by the current lady of Highclere Castle which is supposed to present a very whitewashed picture of the Edwardian-era upstairs people, too. Interesting!

  22. Darlene - My husband even started watching Downton Abbey the last few weeks. I may make a fan out of him yet!

    Bellezza - The cheat sheet has been a huge help in keeping all the Japanese names straight! I've always loved maps, family trees, etc. at the beginning of books, so it may be a visual thing.

    DS - The Remains of the Day is a great suggestion! I've just added it to my post-Downton list. SU won and is still ranked #2. March Madness is just around the corner. Hope you a get a little snow before the winter is over.

    Jessica - I read yesterday's letter and it sounds like things aren't going well for Clarisssa. Things definitely pick up in March!

    Staci - It has been a good week or so around here! I'm already missing Downton Abbey...

    Vasilly - A few bloggers have dropped the verification and I'm very thankful. It's taking me 2 or 3 times to get them - very frustrating!

    Ti - I'm doing the same thing and it drives me crazy!

    Les - Venice has been fun. I've read one short story, one book and one audiobook. Now it's off to Japan! Thanks for turning off verification :-)

    Audrey - I'm on the library waiting list for Below Stairs... number 22. Hope I get it before season 3;-)

  23. I watched Downton Abbey for the first time Sunday - not realizing that it was the season finale. I now completely understand all the hype surrounding this series and have decided that I need to watch seasons 1 and 2 so that I am amply prepared for the start of season 3 :)

  24. Molly - Definitely go back and watch season 1 and the rest of season 2 when you get a chance. Downton Abbey is the best thing to happen to television in ages!

  25. I have DA on the instant queue on Netflix. Just have to convince Scott to watch it with me!! (I rarely watch TV alone these days). Can't wait to eventually see what all the hype is!

    1. Trish - You're going to love Downton Abbey! Scott may even watch it with you - my husband has started, although he won't really admit it ;-)


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