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Everything posted by dog-days

  1. Thanks! Luckily it does seem to be just mould and nothing more structural. I've been running a small dehumidifier all winter during the day. Knew I should be opening the windows but couldn't face coming back to a freezing room. No dryer - very few shared houses have dryers because of the cost of running them; either the landlord foots the bill and is unhappy or the tenants do and start fighting with each other about the level of usage - so everyone dries their clothes inside. It was probably once a solidly built house and still is to an extent No noise comes through from the neighbouring terraces, so the walls must be fairly thick.
  2. Thanks! I might try one and pass on the rest. The set-up sounds like it could make for a pretty compelling one-off mystery story even if I don't want to keep going through reiterations of the same book.
  3. Would it need to be London? I've often wished that I'd moved to London for a few years, because living in a shared house a few zones out but with a London salary could have let me save a deposit for somewhere else relatively quickly. It would have been miserable, but I don't think there's a fun way to save for a deposit these days. I spent part of Tuesday scrubbing the walls in a corner of my room with sugar soap to get rid of the mould. The damp isn't too bad in this house – I've seen late Victorian/early Edwardian HMOs in much worse states with the paint peeling off everywhere you look and huge grey-brown patches on the ceilings – still, it does feel like a place that hasn't seen serious investment for around twenty years. The new landlords have started making improvements, but not so far to the extent of replacing the aged rattling steam engine of a boiler – which would surely have made sense given that they're the ones paying for the utilities.
  4. For readers of Anne Perry, how do you rate her as a writer? She had name-recognition for me, but nothing more, and it was a surprise to find out about her history in the obituaries.
  5. At least it wasn't Belgian monks. I'd feel personally betrayed if it were Belgian monks. No one should do that to a nice bottle of Westmalle Dubbel.
  6. My mind is boggling pleasantly at the idea of a stop-motion Star Wars short. I'm interested o see whatever Aardman come up with. Cartoon Saloon likewise. What will they focus on? The Sorgan Rising – doomed attempt to oust the Empire from the capital of Sorgan whose brutal suppression ultimately wins support for the rebels, though fourteen of the ringleaders are executed, only one of the main characters being spared due to his connections on Coruscant? Plus a white cat guide through the spirit world of the Force?
  7. Also, have finished The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix. It was pleasant and undemanding; an old-fashioned YA-ish yarn harking back strongly to the Susan Cooper and Diana Wynne Jones school of children's literature. I would have liked more plot, and possibly fewer heavy-handed attempts to tie the book to its eighties setting through frequently referencing brands, types of clothes.
  8. I was by-and-large okay with the dialogue, and the obvious anachronisms didn't jump out at me as wrong – maybe because although Chakraborty has a genuine interest in the period, I mentally slotted the book into the 'fun adventure story' category, one that uses the period for setting, myths and language, rather than one that takes the more faithful and rigorous stance of e.g. the Shardlake books. Though with any historical fiction, modern attitudes, ideas, concerns seep in – in the way that Watership Down isn't about rabbits but really about characters based on WW2 soldiers known by the author, historical fiction is only ever what modern authors think being alive in a certain time might have been like. Added to that the artificialities of telling a story that modern people want to read. Maybe the degree of consciousness makes a difference. I'm pretty sure that in general Chakraborty was going for a chatty. contemporary tone, and if she felt she needed to include 'overpass' (!) to do that, that's okay. I don't struggle with it anymore than with the fantastic elements: the Moon of Saba, the marid, etc. I guess there are different ways of approaching the challenge of writing dialogue that sounds natural and modern but that's true to history. It's late, but I just got thinking about Latin, which did have masses of urban, slangy words, many of which came from Etruscan, and which would have created a vibrant, vulgar soundscape in 1st BC Rome. But translate it and the result might be okay if stilted, but probably wouldn't do for 21st century genre fiction. Okay, some of the 1st century AD graffiti from Pompeii would probably do just fine.
  9. A lot of them are quite similar tonally – maybe try the duology Clockwork Boys/The Wonder Engine if you have a fondness for traditional D&D-esque fantasy adventure, or The Raven and the Reindeer from her books inspired by fairy tales.
  10. I'm happy to look bad to you. It means I'm doing something right.
  11. That was a particularly mean little jab, even for you. Have a prize from Wannabe Trolls Monthly, I guess.
  12. 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.
  13. 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...
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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?
  18. Not disagreeing. The essential problem is with the prison system, its underfunding and its punitive (and corrupting and destructive) nature.
  19. 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."
  20. 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.)
  21. 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.
  22. That one's next on my list. I've had my eye on it since it first came up on his Amazon profile page.
  23. 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.
  24. 4.5% to 5% is what I'm typically seeing in the UK. Note to self: look for jobs in Canada.
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