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Everything posted by dog-days

  1. I'm happy to look bad to you. It means I'm doing something right.
  2. That was a particularly mean little jab, even for you. Have a prize from Wannabe Trolls Monthly, I guess.
  3. Aaand have also just read What Moves the Dead, the T Kingfisher riff on The Fall of the House of Usher with added mushrooms. I enjoyed it, as I tend to enjoy much of what she writes, but I didn't feel she was straining herself overmuch here. I would like someone – a demanding editor or deadly rival author if one can be found or cultivated – to throw down the gauntlet and make her push a bit further. But I guess that while her writing is doing well and has found its market niche, there's no incentive for her to do more than keep creating pleasant, very readable, slightly twee diversions.
  4. The number one story on the BBC News homepage is currently, and has been for a number of hours, the death of Paul Cattermole from S Club 7. While any untimely death is very sad, and I'm sorry for his family, somewhere in the world there must be a more important story happening. The UK media is so insular. And often, it seems, determined to distract the populace from paying attention to anything of significance beyond safe topics like nineties pop culture. Spiegel has a story about Macron; Deutsche Welle leads with the Ukraine war; Le Monde...okay, the French are rebelling about something, so far, so stereotypical; El Pais has stories about internal migration in Spain at Easter and about the violence in Israel...
  5. We already have one main party that seems to have collectively shrugged and said 'evil, be thou my good' – we don't need the other one joining in as well. Apart from any finer considerations about UK political culture, the muck throwing won't work. The message about the importance of fighting a positive campaign, a message you'd have thought got broadcast loud and clear in the EU referendum disaster, was apparently missed by Labour's rustbucket PR machine.
  6. Finished And Put Away Childish Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Though a minor novella in his huge and expanding bibliography, I still found plenty to enjoy, not least for the fun of the writing: The story is very meta and could be read as a more general comment on the place of classic English children's literature in the twenty-first century. "We were none of us meant to last this long," one of the fantastical characters grimly asserts. Read it to see if the book is in agreement with their verdict.
  7. Finished The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty and it was indeed very good. Adventure on the Indian Ocean, fights, escapes, banter and secrets from the past – it was all in there. The author's obvious love for the setting – the history, geography and folklore – were what made it stand out above other stories of its kind. Tiny setting spoiler: The book made me want to go and find out more; I really value it when books do that. I also appreciated having an older woman as the protagonist-narrator rather than a young ingénue. She and her pirate crew seem only slightly more ruthless and blood-soaked than the Pirates of Penzance or Stede Bonnet, but that doesn't matter, and in fact is essential to the novel's brand of swashbuckling romance working. I missed the racial politics of the Daevabad books, but it didn't feel like a huge absence. It'll be interesting to see what Muslim commentators/academic responses make of Chakraborty's work. I expect there'll be some accusations of them purveying a kind of 21st century orientalism, but others will come to their defence. Received a gift voucher for by birthday, so have just bought And Put Away Childish Things.
  8. Hope they do it justice. Look forward to hearing more about/seeing the filming locations. Dissolution is set in a snowbound abbey: They'll maybe use a composite of different ones?
  9. Not disagreeing. The essential problem is with the prison system, its underfunding and its punitive (and corrupting and destructive) nature.
  10. Horrible in many ways. At the same time, I can't disagree with this part of the judgement: "Prison does not lead me to believe this will contribute to your rehabilitation."
  11. That may not read to everyone exactly as they might have thought it would. (e.g. as an assertion of their red-blooded manly vigour or some crap like that.)
  12. Cholitas (2019) was just as good as I hoped it would be. Six (well, five – one seems to have been edited out) Bolivian Aymara women set out to climb Aconcagua. The women came from a mix of backgrounds (one teacher, a grandmother, a housewife and occasional mountain porter, a cook, a caretaker...) and had a mix of personalities from exuberant, emotional Lidia to shy, reserved Elena, and seeing them all soldiering through the snow, across barren rocks and tolerating freezing winds was really something. And having just said how much I enjoyed it, I went and google'd for more information, and came across a presentation ripping it apart. It makes some fair points, and does make me reassess the level of artificiality and camera coaching involved. But the (18th century) romantic in me kind of hopes that the documentary's slant – that the women find more confidence and happiness from having gone on their adventure in the mountains– wasn't completely false. ETA: Lidia is apparently now a counsellor in El Alto and the Cholitas Climbers group are hoping to go to Everest.
  13. That one's next on my list. I've had my eye on it since it first came up on his Amazon profile page.
  14. Watched Woman Against the Bomb (2021), a documentary about the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camps. It consisted of archive footage, snatches of the protest songs of the time, and many present-day interviews with some of the women who'd taken part in the movement. I liked it, though it did seem to be targeting an audience of women who'd also been there, or who would have liked to have been there. All the reminiscences were cheerful, even the ones that described getting stamped on by psycho American military enforcers or – from a woman who'd been a child in the camp – of having her teddy bear snatched away by a British policeman. Much was made of the sisterhood and sense of shared purpose and empowerment. Maybe the experience of collective action established a good basis for the rest of the participants' lives, or maybe that kind of thing draws in optimistic, resilient people naturally. Or maybe time had smoothed out the wrinkles. I admit to feeling a little jealous. There were a few amusing clips showing the bile stoked up in the press against the protestors: boot-wearing, dungaree-clad lesbians destroying the values of the nation, bad women neglecting their children and husbands, etc. In the end, I didn't like it as much as I did Bronze Men of Cameroon last night, which was a work of art about art. I found the lack of really dissident or challenging voices amongst the talking heads limited my ability to enjoy it; instead it was like going out for a coffee with some rather nice middle-class people who'd been part of an unusual social club once upon a time and liked to talk about the scrapes they got into.
  15. 4.5% to 5% is what I'm typically seeing in the UK. Note to self: look for jobs in Canada.
  16. Watched We Are Still Here (2022) an anthology film featuring work from directors of Maori, Indigenous Australian or Samoan descent. As might be expected, it was quite mixed with some very assured and interesting work next to other material that seemed quite 'early career'. I liked the story of a Maori community deciding whether to take part in the Battle of Orakau best; the young Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, who I didn't recognise from Hunt for the Wilderpeople, turned in a very charismatic performance. By rights, she'll be a big star. Te Wakaunua Te Kurapa as her father was also impressive. My second favourite, Grog Shop, is set in present-day Australia and starring Clarence Ryan as an aboriginal man being victimised by the racist security man at the local booze store. Ryan gave a very warm performance which won me over. Bronze Men of Cameroon (2021, largely filmed in 2020 with the release delayed by Covid) is a wonderful documentary following the process used by traditional craftsmen in Foumbam in French-speaking Cameroon to create their bronzes. Without a narrator or audible interviewer, the craftsmen speak about what their work means to them. The red earth, the physicality of the process of preparing the clay and shaping the moulds, and the final dramatic sections where the kilns are stuffed with fuel by ungloved hands and one man echoes the drum beat of the soundtrack as he blows the bellows, make watching the film a sensuous experience as well as giving the mind plenty to work with. Catch it in a cinema if you can. I think it may also be available to watch free online on Vimeo.
  17. Thank God, Humza Yousaf's won the SNP leadership election. ETA - Malt beat me to it.
  18. Re Endeavour. My mother was amused/delighted to discover that Shaun Evans has a Scouse accent. She'd never suspected while watching the show, and she's from Liverpool and worked there for her whole career. I haven't watched it myself yet, but I like the decision to cast someone from an untypical acting background as Morse. Shaun Evans was a scholarship boy with a taxi driver father. It meshes nicely with John Thaw in the original series, a Mancunian rather than Liverpudlian, who also came from the working class.
  19. dog-days

    Lit Prizes

    So little time and energy, so many books... (On the glass half full side, some of them could be total crap.)
  20. Have sometimes considered the same thing. I mean, I could try and talk about germs and the importance of sterilizing implements and surfaces, but I couldn't prove anything and I reckon they'd just decide I was completely crazy. And my appeal to them to write semantic HTML probably wouldn't stir their sympathy either.
  21. Good for Sgt. Skinner. I hope he's not made to suffer for it later when the social media attention has gone away.
  22. But on the bright side, the Met chief says it isn't institutional. /irony
  23. Glad you liked the Shared Knife books. I started off very doubtful, but they grew on me and grew on me as I got further in. Till, you know, hitting that point of bereftness when there's no more Shared Knife left to read. Waah.
  24. Gave up on Sims 4 after a few short plays. I must have had more patience when I was thirteen, or just have been massively bored. Instead, went back to my Steam library to go back to a couple of games I first bought around 2013/2014, played once, liked, but didn't revisit. First up was Deus Ex: Human Revolution which was fun. The characters do all tend to come across as kind of bland and straight from a cyberpunk cut-out book, but the flexible gameplay and exploration was great. Though I found myself oddly missing the original's random paper copies of Chesterton's The Man who Was Thursday lying around. Now playing Mass Effect 3, first time with the DLC installed. (I have no idea how I've somehow acquired the ME3 DCL when I didn't have it on my one original playthrough, but not complaining.) It feels faster-paced than Deus Ex, especially since I was playing the non-violent route, and blasting, sniping and throwing grenades at monstrous zombie aliens does have a fair bit of entertainment value. Writing-wise, the character differentiation and tonal shifts feel stronger here too. That said, it's taken me till now to stop walking up to things and pressing 'E' then getting frustrated when nothing happens. The scenery is very unresponsive if you've come from throwing random objects around, and the pathways through feel more limited. But hey, I've got lots of big guns that make things go boom. I like the Prothean.
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