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dog-days

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  1. British actors from ethnic minority backgrounds have tended to leave for the USA in search of more and better roles. Idris Elba, especially, has spoken about the opportunities he found in the US that weren't there for him in Britain. Daniel Kaluuya and Benedict Wong are other examples. Conversely, his Wire co-star Dominic West also sought out the USA to get away from his posh public school background. He's correct that in the UK he would never have been cast as someone like McNulty. Being a theatre fan, I like to think that the rigours of stage life and physical training in the early career - and the attempts made to find new ways to say the same line every night - can add a kind of intensity to an actor that they don't get from lots of TV. But afaik, the USA has plenty of lively regional theatres, some with resident companies, some without. TBH, I think a large part of the reason US film and TV is full of Brits is the unique space we occupy in American history and culture, bordering on otherness, but in a familiar, non-threatening way. A defeated enemy who can be both mocked and yet has a sort of odd prestige.
  2. Guardian article on Pentiment including comments from Josh Sawyer. Don't think there's anything new there, but still feeling quite hyped about it.
  3. Can't see anything particularly impressive on Saber Interactive's CV — still, at least the remake hasn't been canned altogether.
  4. Sure, I test reliably as Lawful Neutral. Wait, wrong 20th century psychological framework...
  5. In the UK, the banks are always more important than mere human beings trying to have a life. Today I paid £3.65 to sit in a café and drink one coffee. I'm really dumb. (In the recent past, it was £1.99. So I was still dumb, just not to the same extreme).
  6. Long post because I’m meant to be revising for a short test tomorrow morning and naturally found a great way to procrastinate. Finished Robin Hobb's Soldier Son trilogy. The below contains BIG SPOILERS for both it and the Farseer books up to the Fitz and the Fool trilogy. Obviously, I found it very readable since I got through its 2243 pages in about a week. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it, or how much I liked it. It does have some strong similarities to the Fitz books, especially Assassin's Apprentice, and they were at the back of my mind for much of my experience of this her lesser-known fantasy trilogy. I still haven’t read the Rain Wild Chronicles. Having listened to the audio books for the final Fitz trilogy and thus being at least partially spoiled, I’m not sure if I should or not. Any advice?
  7. Just looked up the author. Sounds very promising. I've placed a hold on The Dream of Scipio, since it's the only one by him my local library service has at the moment.
  8. 'Dead behind the eyes' instantly made me think of Melania Trump. Cast her as Truss as an act of mercy to get her away from her husband during filming.
  9. Every time I think the government and JRM can't sink any lower... Another quote from the article: Who are these "essentially extremist" speakers? LGBTQ advocates? Progressive academics? Anyone that thinks JRM is a human impersonation bot with the personality dial stuck eternally on the setting for a Brideshead-Revisited-themed murder mystery party?
  10. Very relieved to hear that it looks as if he'll pull through. Just been glancing at the early reactions to the fatwa. Ex-MP Keith Vaz (supporter of homeopathy, dodgy millionaires, lying to the House of Commons, and indigenous land clearances amongst other things) led a protest march calling for the book to be banned. With Vaz representing the idiots' wing of Labour, plenty of senior Tories weren't to be outdone. Geoffrey Howe, William Waldegrave, Thatcher and Norman Tebbit all laid into Rushdie and his novel, without apparently having read it. Tebbit: I was about to say: at least a senior politician couldn't get away with that kind of remark today. Except, unfortunately, I think they could if they wanted to; but at the moment, suggesting that you're anti-Islam has more votes. Ahab Bdaiwai has a thread on Twitter summarising the place of the Satanic verses in Islamic theology.
  11. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman. I liked it better than the original cosy crime novel The Thursday Murder Club featuring pensioners at a retirement village as the leads, though both books were readable and gently humorous. The characters seemed to have settled into themselves a little more; although they're still very much 'types', they aren't drawn overly-crudely, and the writing has a kind of sensitive, affectionate eye that made me care about them. Of the regulars, Ibrahim in particular was more developed this time around. Middle-of-the-road, but in a very likeable sort of way. A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine. Again, I preferred this to the first novel, putting me in a minority of responses. I remember finding the voice of Mahit in that rather too close to that of an informal-and-slightly-neurotic 21st century blogger. That seemed toned down this time. On the other hand, an ongoing problem I've had with A Memory Called Empire and A Desolation Called Peace is that a lot of the characters don't seem sufficiently differentiated in voice or personality. So many of them are intelligent, highly functional, rather dispassionate political addicts. There doesn't seem to be anyone with ADHD or autistic characteristics, just as an example. No one plays trombone really badly in the space-faring equivalent of a brass band during their spare time. That might be a feature of the setting. I can't recall the original's world-building now, but it seems quite possible that both the Teixcalaanli Empire and Lsel Station filter their populations heavily either through genetic manipulation or the education system so that only a certain kind of person - rational, ambitious, both social and socially manipulative - makes it into the political and military spheres through which Mahit travels. I continue to enjoy stationer Mahit's conflict about her relationship to the Empire, heightened through her imago Yskandr's own dose of autocratophilia. Particularly well-done was her surprise in finding out (more, seeing confirmed in reality) that her own home Lsel Station has a culture, and is capable even of creating cultural works that her Teixcalaanli almost-girlfriend can appreciate. Martine has said that there will be more Teixcalaan though not direct sequels; I really hope this will include perspectives of people who aren't high-ranking Teixcalaan or engaged in a life-long love affair with the culture. The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison. I did enjoy this, though can't currently remember much about it. The plot around the dead girls was a powerful one, and skilfully interwoven with Celehar's day-to-day life as Witness for the Dead. The setting and denouement of felt as if they should have felt more atmospheric/haunting than the writing allowed them to be. I know Addison excels in being matter-of-fact, but I think she could have afforded to run the risk of purple prose there and draw things out a touch. But that's not a serious complaint. The change in Celehar's status and make me interested to see in what direction the next book goes. I don't want the series to leave is roots completely and go into being high politics all the time, but it would be great if Celehar could be called back to investigate something for Maia at some point. The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham. Yeah, this made me happy this week. As others have said, the magic system in the books has got to be one of the best in modern fantasy. The andat are terrifying. In terms of polish, Abraham's definitely come on since writing this series. The characterisation in the Dagger and Coin felt in several cases (Geder, Cithrin, Dawson and Annalise Kalliam) advanced on pretty much anything here; while Age of Ash benefited from having a smaller cast with more focus on each PoV. Some of the plotting is kind of questionable and depends on coincidence, and I wonder if after finishing, Abraham decided he never wanted to write another love triangle again, because there are three on offer here. But I didn't care. If someone said, 'I want an intelligent adventure story with sympathetic characters that will keep me glued to the pages from beginning to end' I'd put Book 1 of the Long Price Quartet in their hands, make sure they had a comfy chair, then leave them to it.
  12. A remake of Pharaoh is the pipeline. I loved that game – the way it realised the annual Nile flood was beautiful, and could have been bottled and sold as a cure for world-weariness. The original is on GOG for less than nine pounds. Hmmm - very tempted.
  13. I liked S1, but can't have felt that strongly about it since I never watched S2. Same with Rain, another Netflix YA series.
  14. Thanks! There's some odd stuff in the full HEFCE report. For example, graduates in London, the North East, the Midlands, and the South-East are reported on average as being more anxious than non-graduates. But if you come from somewhere else - you're reported as being less anxious. Pretty much swinging in a hammock with a Netflix show and a piña colada, if you're from Northern Ireland. (Because Northern Irish people don't feel right describing themselves as anxious if no one's in the area with bombs and guns?) Page 17 has a graph with wellbeing divided by subject studied at undergraduate level. The former Education students appear very happy. Either they all have a vocation to teach, or their students put them in contact with the best dealers. Page 19 breaks the results down by age. Not surprised that graduate wellbeing is felt less by more recent graduates. In 1994, there were 271 000 HE acceptances given to UK students. In 2012, there were 465 000. (562 000 in 2021). It doesn't seem to look at things from a social class perspective unless I'm overlooking that section — I tend to think that, if degree inflation hadn't led to degrees being needed for access to non-graduate jobs, the people reporting themselves happy in the survey would still be reporting themselves at about the same level.
  15. Have thought for some time that one of the big problems with the UK education system is its lack of integration with RL jobs. Not in the sense that kids should be brainwashed with the latest management buzzwords or taught that the only relevant way to calculate value in the world is by placing a pound sterling sign in front of everything, but because it's pretty much impossible to decide if you want a job if you've never done it or anything like it before. When I was at school, you were supposed to do a one/two week stint of work experience. I didn't even do mine because I was too full of self-loathing at the time to imagine anyone would want me in their work environment spoiling things, and no one ever followed up on it. As far as I know, the system is still pretty much the same. It was through doing different jobs in my twenties that I found out about myself, and what I could and couldn't do, but that took up a big chunk of my life and was deeply inefficient. If teenagers had more of a chance to experience different workplaces, and also were given a decent grounding in the economics of careers (supply + demand; where to find reliable information about where there are gluts/shortfalls in trained workers), it might be so much easier for them to make choices that work for them. (Eta: Apparently something like this is in place at least as regards advice. I imagine it probably gets squeezed into one lesson when the kids are too young for it though.) But I doubt there's a perfect way to do it - one that ends with people in jobs they're suited to and that pay enough to have some sort of life outside work. I can't say completely that my humanities degree was a waste of time and money because I was studying a subject that I loved. At the same time, if I had access to a time machine, I'd tell my younger self to do something different, and I'd give the same advice to any child of mine unless they had a really determined/outgoing personality.
  16. Could maybe start brainwashing him in preparation for future compulsory Studio Ghibli immersion by dressing up as Totoro. So much better than Santa, while also being 3D.
  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. Was going to ask what the first-best Latin-American-inspired 3D animated movies is in that case. But then I remembered Coco. I liked but did not love Encanto. Thought it could have done with more sense of hazard/peril.
  19. Duolingo might be helpful for Ukrainian? I don't use it myself, but quite a few of the Welsh learners I know seem to. I was looking up the rates of inflation by European country (the UK somewhere in the middle, though higher than Germany and France, its closest analogues) and saw that Turkey's inflation rate is at a 79.6%. Apparently, Erdogan has been doing the opposite of most countries and slashing interest rates. Will be interesting to see what happens there over the next couple of years.
  20. 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?
  21. Ashamed I was glad when he won the leadership contest — I thought with his background as a QC, and being a white middle-aged male in a suit, he might be able to get the Tory-leaning English electorate to vote in a progressive party. It's not even that he has the principles of a jellyfish; he's a politician, I've learned to expect that. It's that he's really bad at having no principles. He doesn't signal ruthlessness and pragmatism by it; he just looks inept and cowardly.
  22. [Snip] just lost a fight against my elderly phone. Quoted/replied when I meant to edit.
  23. 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.
  24. Glad it's not just me experiencing memory white-out. I went back to read an old reaction post (ETA - one by @Annara Snow) that mentioned all the characters, and it was a fight to remember who most of them were. Pretty sure I enjoyed S3, though I probably came to it with lower expectations than a lot of you. It was a stylish, atmospheric show, though not one I feel tempted to rewatch. Like a lot of thriller/mystery-type stories, once the cat is out of the bag I don't much care to revisit the lead-up.
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