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dog-days

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  1. In my teens, I co-habited with a cat and a dog. (Reworded: The cat and dog allowed me to share their house). The rescue tabby cat was getting on in years and grouchy when our eight-month old CKC spaniel arrived. It was like living in a strange sort of Cold War. They'd sniff each other's noses in a cautious, stage-managed sort of way if they met each other in the hall. We should have called them Kennedy and Krushchev. Or Nixon and Mao. But sometimes, the dog fell asleep next to my dad on the couch. Then the cat felt jealous, so also fell asleep on the couch, and gradually stretched to take up more space. When contact with the dog inevitably occurred, the cat sprang up in hissing, clawing outrage, terrifying the dog and everyone in the room. Cat also had the habit of helping herself to dog's biscuits at dinner time, despite having a more expensive brand of food of her own waiting for her in her bowl. It felt a bit like watching the first stirrings of a peasants' revolt when dog finally found the courage to bark at her as she was masticating Pedrigree Chum (very slowly; she was an old cat and short of teeth). Dog lived until she was ten; cat until she was twenty-something. I think cat missed dog, though it was rather hard to tell. She was a very grumpy, difficult animal. Anyway, cats and dogs can live together, depending on the breed and the age of introduction, if not always in instagram-worthy cwtches.
  2. Everyone on westeros.org was a jock or homecoming queen or possibly both in their school days, so I dunno why I'm sharing this really.
  3. OTOH, outside academia I don't think Walter Scott himself is read widely/adapted to new media in the way that Dickens is. Scott is mostly known as the father of the historical novel, and as an influence on Dickens, rather than loved for his characters and works. So - I don't know about how things are in the academic world - but at least in terms of popular literary consciousness, the Porter sisters role in establishing a major genre is forgotten. Re: Collins. I remember really enjoying The Woman in White when I was sixteen or so. It still had the page-turning qualities that its contemporary audience must have loved, and if ever I do have a pet cat, there's a fair chance he'll be called Fosco in best nineteenth-century fashion. I've had The Moonstone and Armadale on my to-read list for ages, but never got round to them.
  4. It was a fairly ominous sign when Albert Speer Jr's firm was hired to design the German toytown. Previous works included a central courthouse in Riyadh (2007). The UK seems full of dodgy developers and local councils. Mostly not megalomaniacal in the totalitarian style (though Cardiff has its moments), but ready to build on flood plains, produce only the type of housing that will net the biggest profit (three/four bedroom houses mainly), and create housing estates without any facilities, infrastructure or community spaces. I mean to follow the 2019 winner of the Stirling Prize, a council housing development in Norwich; I was very glad it won, but it'll be interesting to see how it develops - if it's able to fulfil the hopes the planners had for it.
  5. That's horrendous. I can't believe anyone ever thought that was a good idea. I mean, it sounds a bit like Shanghai's new towns, but someone apparently read about them and thought "that's way too modest and low-key! What the Black Sea region needs is a valley full of identical Disney mansions." At least with the extended burst of masochism that was brutalist architecture, I can see the original ideals behind the gruesome exterior. With this, I have no words. I wonder what is was like to be involved in the project. Maybe at the start to think a new development in the area would be a good idea, and then to return and see the horror of the fantasy-made-real. I envision a Munch-Scream-style moment. Though I suspect for the senior people, the only horror was that their scheme didn't make them millions.
  6. Just saying that I admire the way you're pushing at your comfort zone with improv theatre and cons, and - with the D&D group - sometimes having bad days, recognising that, but not giving up on it. Chapeau.* * Sorry if this sets off your anti-praise instincts. I have those too. They're really annoying. Part of my personality would like to bask in compliments, but the inner-bully/critic won't let me. I can only assure you that I'm being sincere.
  7. All the chat about political motivation in the UK thread made me pay more attention than usual when I came across a dramatic little episode in the early career of Lloyd George. It all sounded a bit North-Wales-meets-Robert-Louis-Stevenson, yet it is apparently true.
  8. German translation of Hamilton launches in Hamburg. A studio recording of the opening song was released to hype it up. Now I just need Wales to do a version Cymraeg. Well, someone's already translated and performed a bit of Encanto. A full-scale musical can't be that much of a stretch!
  9. Responding indirectly to you, Toth, with some of my own reflections on collegiate relationships - mainly in the UK. I don't know your workplace, but as you describe it, it sounds fairly typical to me - not a paradise, but not an organisation that's plunged into some horrible negative spiral either. Well, not as bad as the UK government, anyway. I know that a lot of social advice tends along the lines of "be authentic" and "be yourself" but I've never found that very helpful, doubly so in a work environment where we've signed a contract, we have commitments, and we're typically stuck in the same organisation - sometimes in the same building or the same room - without an easy means of escape; like sub-mariners, the main thing is to be able to get along without driving each other mad. Yes, there are people who do more than that. (Like a German teacher of mine from Iraq who used to get teased about his lunchtime 'harem'. Like the middle-manager in my current job who wanders through different team offices and gossips and talks about his tech obsessions). But these are advanced-level skills, and the people who do it tend to have a level of social confidence that is, if not inherent, then apparently unscarred by bullying and feelings of low self-worth. I'm possibly autistic, ugly, withdrawn and suspicious. Not (m)any people in my unit are likely to share my interests. So, I have a work personality. It helps me survive, and at least get invited to office occasions/events/after-work drinks. My work personality isn't a social butterfly, but just tries to follow various guidelines as drawn up by me. I'm using 'you' here as in 'one should', not you in particular. It's how I talk to myself. be broadly positive, especially about colleagues. Don't gush creepily about them or make a thing of it at all, but if your colleagues get the impression that you're nice about others, they'll be more relaxed around you. That doesn't mean being insincere. I was brought up by a father that made fun of sucking up to people, and it took me rather too long to grasp that it's actually okay to notice good things people do and remark on it. do make small talk. It's the equivalent of dogs sniffing each other's arseholes. You might not get the importance, but they do. remember things people tell you and ask about them, not to a stalkerish extent, but enough to show that you're interested you might have the best intentions and be the kindest person in the world, but no one will know that unless you take opportunities to demonstrate it. So look proactively for chances to show you're decent. Help carry stuff. If someone's sick, say you've got paracetamol. I think it's harder for men. Female-dominated professions tend to encourage people to bring in cake/biscuits/that kind of thing. For men then letting slip that you're involved in/support charity x/cause y may work. Obviously, you do actually need to be involved in said cause. have some hobby/habit that identifies you and makes you seem unique, in an unthreatening, maybe even positive way. People like that, for some reason. In one job, it's been baking. In another, it's been cycling to work. Neither needed much academic intelligence to perceive and understand. If you don't have such a thing, find one. I wouldn't say my work personality is fake, exactly. However, it is carefully curated. I'll admit now that I've had few genuine connections in my life, and even with the people I've been closest to, it's never been 100% genuine. A filter always comes into play somewhere on my side, and probably on theirs as well. I think that's quite normal. Partly I think we do it to try and protect each other - if necessary from ourselves. (I got kicked out of my longest, closest friendship nine years ago after an argument over the moral value of intelligence. I think me saying that intelligence largely helped the trains to Auschwitz to run more efficiently may have been what did it.) My optimistic/happy side hasn't really been in evidence much lately, but since happy dog-days generally copes better socially than cynical, angry dog-days, I'll let the former out a bit to say: Although sticking to small talk and avoiding serious subjects, or subjects you're passionate about, can seem deeply tedious, over the long run it can turn into genuine connections. Asking someone every Monday how their weekend was can seem pathetic, but it builds up over time into something more complicated. The glory of the safe and trivial. People at work often hold back from talking about what they genuinely care about, but over time and with an attentive (but not creepy) listener, it starts to seep out. Re: levels of formality. In English I'm happily untroubled by the pronoun dilemma. When I write emails, I always try and mimic the formality of the person I'm responding to. If I'm the first emailer, then I follow the organisation's normal practice, which tends to be "hi + first name". I do lament a bit the days when titles and surnames were still used; like you, I feel that the chumminess of current discourse is rather fake. It often seems to be a way of plastering over hierarchies and salary differentials, a big game of pretend. But when in Rome... Also (and here's my optimistic voice muscling in again) a couple of the organisation's translators have written to me using ti/du, and that's always been very nice because it's generally been part of a friendly and thoughtful email. That said, spending chunks of my free-time in language class, where everyone's the informal pronoun, has made me expect it. Chi/Sie would feel quite weird and distant after the informal address being standard. Re: the colleague who thought you were a student. Sounds as if he realised he pissed you off, and is now trying to compensate for it by asking you for advice, since people generally take it as a compliment if you ask them for advice. (I once asked for directions on a U-bahn platform in Stuttgart. I was nearly steam-rollered by the enthusiasm of little old Swabian ladies.)
  10. Hope it's the first of many more bans. Horrible stuff.
  11. Yes. My Dad read bits of Pyramids aloud to me when I was around nine years old, and a year or so later I read Hogfather. Afterwards Wyrd Sisters, Reaper Man and Feet of Clay. And onwards, until I soon had to wait for Terry to release a new book... A lot of people have suggested that Guards, Guards! the first City Watch book could be a good starting point.
  12. WTF. Hilary Mantel has died. This is a shit week. I thought she was younger than seventy and imagined she'd be around and busy writing and providing social commentary for decades. The Thursday before last saw the premature and very sad death of fiddle-player and all-round lovely bloke Paul Sartin.
  13. But you sent the application? I'm so glad you did!
  14. I read it yesterday; it was a really good article. Loved the description of the writing of Good Omens.
  15. I'm sorry that Elder Race didn't win Best Novella. I didn't read the other contenders in the category and so didn't vote, but I enjoyed its particular combination of science fiction and fantasy a lot.
  16. On the board you always seem like a fine person @Poobah, and I'm sure everyone that reads this thread is only wishing you good things. Seconding the advice to reach out. You mention that there are various burdens in your life right now; I don't exactly know what they are, but possibly organisations like the ones mentioned upthread or others might be able to support you through at least some of them, or even remove some of the load from you? The news is shit. I said to my previous supervisor last year that I felt as if there'd been no good news since 2016. Sometimes I think about trying to tune out of it, but I know that the habit of following the headlines is too deeply ingrained in me. If I had more belief that I had something to offer, I'd probably try becoming active in a lobby/campaign/party, just to fight back a little against the passivity of being a receptacle for horrible news about the world that I have no control over.
  17. Regeneration by Barker was one of my A-level set texts. Many years on and I still haven't read the rest of the trilogy; not because the first book wasn't good, but because it was perhaps too good at depicting its subject unflinchingly. A great deal of research must have gone into the writing, but it was worn lightly. I have never read Mary Renault. However, fans and even the uninitiated like me might enjoy Daniel Mendelsohn's essay in the New Yorker The American Boy about growing up reading and corresponding with Renault.
  18. By the name of [fantasy god moniker of choice], how does he do it? Is he really identical triplets? Also, is my local library service going to buy it?
  19. [Snip] just lost a fight against my elderly phone. Quoted/replied when I meant to edit.
  20. Didn't mention it in my initial post since I'm pretty sure the man himself wouldn't have wanted it brought up, but a lot of the denizens of the video games thread will of course remember Warner as the voice of Jon Irenicus in Baldur's Gate 2. Another villain, but such a good one. Michael Billington's recollections of him on stage @TheLastWolf I hope your cricketer is as good as my actor.
  21. David Warner's died. I loved his voice. Was lucky enough to see him act live on stage a couple of times around fifteen years ago after he began his live theatre comeback. Guardian obit. Never met him, but was always left with a positive impression from what I heard. He joined the protests against the Iraq War.
  22. Police arrived at 1am to take away my next door neighbour in the shared house I live in. I woke up when the male policeman said he'd kick the door down if she didn't open it, with a loud enough voice to get through my noise cancelling headphones. She'd apparently been threatening to hurt someone else and/or herself. No problem there - it's just frustrating that when this happens they always bring her back after a day or two instead of leaving her somewhere a long long way away from me. My upstairs neighbours have been having enthusiastic (celebratory?) sex on-and-off since then. More power to them. Couldn't get back to sleep probably because of raised stress hormones or something, and have given up on it. Feeling fine now, but work later today isn't going to be fun. Saving for a deposit is a grand idea, but I often wish I could borrow the TARDIS and jump eight months into the future. ETA: Bugger it, she's back. The one person in the world who isn't a politician that I could wish extradited to North Korea. This post probably sounds deeply heartless to people who haven't lived cheek-by-jowl to her for eight months. I just know that I wasn't on beta blockers when I came here, but I am now.
  23. The thin silver lining being that at least after this, Alzheimer's research will hopefully now move in different, more effective directions. Sodding awful though. Shocking that it's taken so long for this to come to light. I was going to say "at least the MMR-autism study fraud was debunked quickly" but then checked, and found it actually took twelve years. The original science.org article by Charles Piller
  24. My forearms got eaten by horseflies as I walked along an overgrown path between two fields on Saturday. I look as if I've got the plague, and the bites are bloody itchy. No suggestions - just sympathy.
  25. Interesting-sounding book, albeit more difficult than the kind I'm used to reading these days. Still, I should maybe give it a go. It reminds me of the recent discovery of slave living quarters in Pompeii. I think that lupa (female wolf) was a common term for prostitute in Latin, not just in Pompeii. Hence one interpretation of the Romulus and Remus myth, that the boys weren't suckled by a wolf, but adopted by a woman who worked in the oldest trade.
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