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dog-days

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  1. I think Shepherd's Crown is definitely worth reading, though it's kind of patchy, and feels like a draft. At the same time, there's at least one scene there that feels completely indispensable to any fan of the Aching/Witches books. There are other good bits too, of course - I haven't read Raising Steam since it sounded as if it had more of the problems that were there in Snuff; in contrast, I thought Shepherd's Crown felt like a genuine Tiffany book, and a strong conclusion to the series. I don't cry much, but if I could, I would have wept buckets at the end.
  2. I think I'd like to watch that movie more than the real Spiderman 3, whatever it ends up being called.
  3. Ach, that's a pity. When I heard it was in the offing, I got quite excited about it, then forgot about it when there were no updates. In somewhat video-game-related news, Sarevok (Baldur's Gate) is going to be Dr Hibbert in The Simpsons.
  4. Yeah - I can see how when the series first started coming out, it would be seen as radical. I mean, there are sub-cultures/places in Britain and the USA where I'm sure it still is radical, thinking in particular of Beta Colony, and what it represents. I think my view of the novels as cosy (nicely so - cosy was all I could cope with in January) is because the main character is an aristocrat with huge wealth, a good family, and very well-connected in the society of his conservative home planet. Plus, with Bujold I tend to get the feeling that she isn't going to let anything unbearably unfair happen to the main characters; they might suffer, but they'll come through it stronger, and their friendships will survive too.
  5. I've been seeing the name mentioned for years and years - I think never being able to remember if it was Vogorsikan or Vorkoskigan or Vorsgokigan may have put me off reading the series till Bujold's fantasy stuff prepared the ground. But now I definitely have it right - all hail the Vorgoksigan saga!
  6. I spent the end of December and a lot of January reading Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. As a result, I can now spell the word Vorkosigan without needing to check where the s, g and k go first. I missed out a couple of the early ones, and haven't read Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen yet, though I'm sure I'll get around to it fairly soon. It's a pretty nice fictional universe to spend time in, provided you avoid the horrible stuff people seem to be doing continually in Jackson's Whole. The sci-fi equivalent of cosy crime. (Not to imply that it's badly written - it's not; the characters are distinctive and sensitively drawn, and the various civilisations are often based on quite striking concepts). I've also just finished Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins. Not cosy at all, but very readable, and featuring a couple of horrifically believable characters (Nick and Mariah, aargh!), and sketching out the darker side of Oxford. Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series makes me want to visit Oxford, and stay at The Trout Inn. Reading Magpie Lane made me want to plan any future trip to the south-east to take a wide loop around the city. I suspect that Atkins's Oxford is much closer to the reality of the city than Pullman's, and not just because the latter is in an alternative world. My one gripe with the book was that it didn't quite seem to integrate the gothic tropes it'd been drawing on, and the ending seemed a bit abrupt. I know that a lack of resolution is the modern thing to do in literature, but I could have done with a couple of threads being developed just a tad more.
  7. Re: trial by Twitter I can't say I like it much either - at the same time, it kind of feels as if no other method is likely to work. I suppose if you're an actor or actress with an appalling/exploitative/bullying/predatory boss, you can confide in close friends. But the tendency of management to close ranks, plus the powerful need of people early in their careers to establish their professional reputation, seems likely to close down most conventional routes to fair treatment and justice. Unionize is one answer - I've no idea what the situation is like over in the States in the entertainment industry. In the UK, some unions are chocolate teapots, and people in careers like acting might still be reluctant to go to their union for help, in case, as usual, the news got round on the grape-vine, and the job offers would stop A couple of years ago I watched a broadcast of Measure for Measure from the RSC, one of my favourite plays. Got to the bit where Isabella threatens to out Angelo, and he just says And reminds her who has the connections and the good reputation. I felt glad we have things like Twitter at that point. Last week my mother told me about an OFSTED inspector visiting her school back in the nineties. He claimed he'd found money missing in the budget, and leaned over her desk being very threatening and unpleasant, while she had to go through the workings out and show him that, no, it was all correct. She reckoned it would be harder to get away with that kind of behaviour now. I assume she didn't think it was because people in authority have suddenly become nicer and less prone to abusing their power.
  8. This stuff has been brewing for a long long time. If it was one or two people, and it came out of the blue, I would reserve my judgement, but with Whedon it's more like death of a thousand cuts (each made by a different person). I first watched Buffy in 2010, and even then I remember that Whedon's reputation was a bit frayed at the edges.
  9. Kreia was a great character in KOTOR 2. There was some great writing in that game. Thought the final level on Malachor V was very atmospheric. Haven't played it for a while though, not since going through it with the restored content mod.
  10. Today is a good day because I bought a second-hand mandolin on e-bay via auction. That's probably the most exciting thing I've done all month. Also, Saturday! (The second beer smiley needs to go, obviously. It's just one person with one glass of beer.)
  11. I'm not sure how I'm feeling about S3, but at this point I think I'd enjoy a TV drama about the making of American Gods. Enjoy in a schadenfreude kind of way.
  12. Been watching The Secret of Kells again, the beautiful 2009 animation from Cartoon Saloon. On the one hand, it's a magical adventure story taking inspiration from history. At the same time, it has a serious message about the power of art, and its ability to endure, and to provide hope and comfort even when the world doesn't seem full of reasons for either. All that with a design that's a love song to the glories of insular illumination. Bonus points for references to Pangur Bán. The film is currently available for free on S4C for UK people, though it's in a Welsh dub (the original was in Irish). English subtitles available.
  13. Yesterday was my dad's funeral. I had been dreading it - afraid I'd cry, afraid I'd be bad-tempered, afraid I'd find it all pretty horrifying - and in the end it wasn't so bad. I think I was fairly polite by my grouchy standards. My mother arranged everything. She's Church of England to the bone; I'm an atheist, CofE stuff almost gives me a rash, and I feel tempted to drop-kick most of the mild-mannered, faintly self-satisfied-seeming Anglican vicars I've met into the Irish Sea. But I oddly enjoyed the ride in the funeral car with a woman in a top hat leading the way in front on foot, and I didn't feel much of anything during the ceremony itself, which was good. My dad was about as religious as I am, though he described himself as an agnostic, and I didn't really feel the funeral had much to do with him. Kind of funny, since he was its subject. But my mother loves CofE rituals, and had more than earned the right to them after being his carer for years. Today I was able to flee back to my own accommodation, leaving the city of my birth and family home behind me. Although I didn't touch alcohol on the day of the funeral until it was well over, I spent rather too much of last week in a tipsy haze. Looking forward to not drinking anything beyond a glass of beer in the evening now that Christmas + funeral + habitation chez ma mèère are over. Starting to feel I can breath again.
  14. Re: recent Herzog. I enjoyed his 2016 documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. Saw it in cinema with a Q&A with Herzog broadcast directly afterwards. Very different to South American/Kinski-era Herzog, of course, but interesting, intelligent, and rather weird. Worth the price of admission for the bit where he asks Elon Musk if he can go to Mars with him. Haven't seen anything of his more recent than that - was put off by the luke-warm/unfavourable reviews. But come the day that cinemas reopen, I expect I will wander down to catch whatever project Herzog creates next.
  15. Seen the finale. That was great. Not going to say much about it because it would be incoherent rambling with lots of exclamation marks. Kudos to Amir Wilson for the acting in a critical scene. I normally turn away from extremes of melodrama, but here I was moved. Approved of the decision to tweak what happened to John Parry - the ending from the books would have needed more set-up to work.
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