Phil Foglio (philfoglio ) wrote,

Lo– It is Fall.

I don't know what it is about today, but it felt autumnal as hell.

We are still without rain, which is seriously freaking out the natives, but I'm confident we'll have some soon enough. In the meanwhile, I'm cleaning up the garden for the winter in comfort, which is quite the novelty. Doing some weeding, some pruning, dead–heading roses (I'm a big fan of this practice. I freaked my New Yorker mom when she came out in January and found roses blooming) and clearing out dried up foliage. Then I'll compost and fertilize it six ways from Sunday and let the rain get to soaking everything until next Spring. Assuming it actually shows up.

To my astonishment, it appears that I'm going to get another wave of tomatoes. Usually about this time, the vines are starting to decay and the remaining fruit starts to rot. Not this year, there's bunches of tomatoes just ripening away in the beautiful October sun. I've also put up a Mason Bee box. I have to reserve the bees sometime in early January, but I'll have a place for them when they show up. Mason bees are excellent pollinators, but don't have stingers. They also don't produce honey, so I guess nobody bothers them.

Today's Media recommendation is a movie I caught on Netflix; Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. It's a foreign language film from China. It's got martial arts action, and I will say that overall the wire work is really good. It's also got touches of the fantastic (because guys jumping twenty feet and batting entire logs around is an everyday thing in China), as well as bits of what I have to call steampunk. The characters and the story was good, and the acting (which is usually the weak link in these productions) was really good. But the reason I was so delighted with it is that Detective Dee is the same character who appears in the excellent series of Chinese detective novels by Robert van Gulik. Mr. van Gulik was a Dutch ambassador to China in the 20's, who's hobby was writing these novels. There are close to 20 of them, I think, and they are all wonderful, full of engaging characters, head–scratching mysteries, and loquacious ghosts (van Gulik said that he didn't believe in ghosts, but Chinese detective stories of the period were apparently rife with them, so he felt that in order to remain true to his source material, he had to put them in). You should also check them out (http://www.amazon.com/Celebrated-Cases-Judge-Detective-Stories/dp/0486233375/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349760848&sr=1-1&keywords=judge+dee). I like being able to recommend books to people. It's rare that I can recommend an entire series, and be reasonably sure that a fair percentage of my readers will never have heard of it. If you are one of those people, rejoice! This will keep you in good books through to the New Year.

But it gets even better. Judge Dee was a real person. He was a magistrate, who solved crimes back in the Tang Dynasty (probably without the aid of ghosts), and helped bring down the Empress Wu, who was your prototypical crazy ruthless person who grabbed the throne and engaged in debauchery and a whole lot of killing as sport. She set such a bad example, that she was the only Empress the Chinese ever allowed near the throne. She is also in the movie, because a character that good– you gotta use. You should see why. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detective_Dee_and_the_Mystery_of_the_Phantom_Flame).
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