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Everything posted by dog-days

  1. 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.
  2. I'll finish listening to it then go check out the evisceration.
  3. Have heard very good things about the latter. I went for The Dawn of Everything after seeing an intriguing review of it on dreamwidth a few months ago, which now, irritatingly, I can't find.
  4. 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.
  5. One Day All This Will Be Yours sounds like crazy fun. I'll move it further up my Tchaikovsky reading list. Every time I think I'm making headway with his back catalogue, he brings something else out, or I hear of one of his off-the-beaten-track novellas. I've started listening to The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by the late David Graeber and David Wengrow. So far so good. I was getting increasingly frustrated that they kept mentioning indigenous sources, and indigenous critiques, but then not specifying them or quoting them at all. However, they have just started to refer to Pierre Biard's account of his interactions with the Mi'kmaq of Acadia/Nova Scotia, and hopefully the trend will continue. There was a brief discussion of how the word 'equality' was used in European languages prior to the Enlightenment with the claim that it was never used politically — it didn't immediately sound wrong, but at the same time, I wish the authors had brought a trained linguist on board to discuss it in more depth. Part of the evidence cited to show how preferable indigenous societies could be as set against those of the European colonisers was that children kidnapped by indigenous groups often chose to stay, or to return to those groups when offered the choice. I'm afraid, being a gloomy person, that this reminded me rather of Gitta Sereny, who before her career as a journalist and writer worked for the United Nations in the difficult business of reuniting 'Aryan' children stolen by the Nazis with their birth families. The children often didn't remember their birth families at all and were distraught. (Note: this isn't me saying that American indigenous societies were like the Nazis, and I'm sure plenty of Europeans chose to stay with the tribes because they were basically fairer, nicer places to be. It was just the particular example of kidnapped children/infants that made me blink a bit.) I'm actually happy to get on board with their overall arguments; their appeal was part of what made me choose to spend my monthly audible credit on the book. Some aspects seem a bit thin at the moment, but then I think the authors are still warming to their subject.
  6. Seen on Twitter. A WW2 map of Ireland to discourage thoughts of invasion: https://twitter.com/135thdegree/status/1550859742414884864?s=20&t=_KmleKUj17-wsn2hP9chgg
  7. I've mostly been finding myself in Scandi "oh god does anyone in this universe ever smile?" Noir territory and checking out mid-episode.
  8. 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
  9. Season 3 of the Orville has been pretty disappointing. I have this memory of Seasons 1 and 2 being funny with a Lower-Decks-like playfulness, and now I'm wondering if that's just because I watched them at night during the first lockdown when I was drunk. Season 4 of The Dragon Prince is arriving on Netflix in November. Quite hopeful about that.
  10. Finished Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I didn't realise until Googling it five minutes ago that this was actually the middle-book of a loosely-connected trilogy. The final part is due in November this year. Enjoyed it a lot more than his sci-fi standalone The Doors of Eden, even though it had a similarly wide range of point-of-views. Of particular interest to me was the civilisation of artificially evolved octopuses that seemed to be riffing partly on the idea of what it would be like if Twitter were a race of cephalopods. Tchaikovsky doing sci-fi seems like a more utopia-minded writer than Tchaikovsky doing fantasy. Apparently it's easier for him to imagine genetically-modified/genetically other species working wisely and kindly together than bog-standard humans. No arguments here.
  11. Very droll, BFC! I'm sure Rishi S. is scouting out gigs on the after-dinner speaker circuit and honorary-yet-lucrative positions on company boards at this moment.
  12. Would be quite pleased with a Truss/Sunak deathmatch. What I don't want is for the Tories to end up with a candidate who's been positioned outside Partygate and the general field of corruption and laziness that - even true-blue Conservative voters must have begun to notice by now - is intrinsic to Johnson's Downing Street. Offered a Tory leader who's covered in the same old shit, the electorate might show they have a memory slightly longer than a goldfish and vote for someone else. Preferably Starmer, but I could get behind Larry the Cat as the sneaky outsider candidate. It's a pity that Paul the All-seeing Octopus has long departed this vale of tears, because he really had a lot going for him.* *Next weekend, I'll be leaving a comment on Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Ruin in the Lit forum. Until then, any posts from me will skew heavily towards cephalopods.
  13. No, more like the class monitor who takes advantage of his privileges to sell drugs, but who seems so charming and polished that no one can quite believe it of him.
  14. Yeah, I thought that media companies had finally figured out that having a staggered international release was just encouraging pirating, but apparently not. A book I want to read by an author with a wide Anglophone following is coming out three/four months later in the UK than in the USA. Just don't get it.
  15. The UK Government is going to table a motion of no confidence in itself. I don't think they're being as clever as they think they're being.
  16. Couldn't sleep, still can't, and went for an insomniac twenty-minute walk downhill as far as the student pub zone. Everywhere was closed, and the last few patrons, two young men and a woman, were about to head home. Said one of the boys to the other in a ringing voice that carried easily over thirty metres: "I just wanted to take all the chairs away and tell her to sit on my face. Fucking hell, man, she was so hot." If I'm ever dumb enough to buy a flat in an area with nightlife, I hope it has triple glazing.
  17. 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.
  18. I've got a hold on the library's copy of The Grief of Stones, which is on order but hasn't arrived yet. If it takes more than a couple of weeks, I may crack and buy it as a present to myself for *checks calendar* Sarawak Independence Day. In the meanwhile, I read The Second Sleep by Robert Harris. A young priest Fairfax is sent to a remote west country village by his bishop to preside over the funeral of another, older priest. The novel starts with him on horseback, facing difficult weather, a town with an occupied gibbet, and unhelpful locals sitting outside an inn. The book's reception on this board was luke-warm to chilly pace Ordos, but I liked it. It's not a brilliantly original work, but it is a well-told adventure story written in clear, steady prose, one that kept me absorbed for a good part of the weekend. I also finished listening to The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Disclaimer: I was listening to this over the course of a month in my second language often while doing the ironing, so my impressions aren't that fair. Anyway, this was the first Tchaikovsky I've read (of Guns of the Dawn, Dogs of War, Spiderlight and Elder Race) that I didn't much care for. Short summary: a group of beings from parallel Earths are drawn together to try and save the universe. The book is a mixture of plot and essay-like sections about the nature of intelligent life on the other Earths. Oddly, it was the essay sections that tended to be more entertaining since it was clearly Tchaikovsky having fun and letting his imagination out to play. I particularly enjoyed the race of giant felines who control their primate servants through a parasite that infects them with feelings of awe and wonder in the presence of a cat. However, the actual story felt oddly shapeless, and the large cast of characters (including five point-of-views at least) were underdeveloped. It also lacked a strong villain —Rove the evil businessman is a cardboard cut-out with a personality that's basically a series of post-it notes - scarlet post-it notes written in all-caps in black felt-tip. Despite the imminent end of everything, there wasn't much sense of peril. Everyone minus Rove was fairly sensible, and it was pretty obvious they'd be able to find a solution without breaking much sweat or facing any big dilemmas. To my moderate shame, there have been a couple of books that I didn't finish. One was The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip. I bounced hard off the style, which came across as twee and mannered. I seem to have less tolerance for stylistic variation than I used to. The other was Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor. It started with a massacre and went on to FGM. I decided some emergency PG Wodehouse was in order.
  19. Our brave lads in Afghanistan were murdering people then covering it up pathetically badly. Their cover-up was then enabled by the head of Special Forces. Unbelievably Absolutely predictably given the precedents of organisational behaviour, the SAS unit concerned were sent back to Afghanistan for another six month tour. Sniff, so proud to be British. Will be shocked if any of the Tory candidates suggest any of what happened might be remotely bad, in case condemning the shooting of brown people alienates the grassroots.
  20. I also liked Dawn despite having picked up on some of her reputation amongst Buffy fans before watching the show, but then I'm also an only child. I often enjoy shows featuring sibling relationships because to me they're exotic and strange. Almost a kind of sci-fi in themselves. (Sorry, people with siblings. I know that my sci-fi can be your hell-on-earth).
  21. Watched an episode of Y Fets (The Vets). Lots of poor brachycephalic bulldog-type dogs having to have bits of their soft palates and noses cut out because the flat-muzzled look that their owners adore doesn't let them breath. Bloody stupid humans.
  22. I think I could handwave the incestuous vibe between Luther and Sloane because I kind of expect every single Hargreeves to make fucked-up choices to a degree. I didn't feel the show was pressuring me to find it not creepy - just, as you say, less creepy than Luther and Alison. (Have any of the Umbrellas ever managed a completely healthy relationship? There's been so much plot over the last three seasons that I find it hard to keep track). With any other set of characters, I'd have been deeply frustrated that they were hanging around having a drawn-out family spat right before the apocalypse instead of trying to save the universe; with the Umbrellas and surviving Sparrows, I just shrug. It's them being them. They can't do any different. I would have enjoyed finding out more about Christopher. Especially if it turned out that he hadn't always been a giant floaty electric cube.
  23. Went to the local arts centre last night to catch Benediction by Terence Davies. It’s the first Terence Davies film I’ve seen, and I was attracted to it by its subject – the war poet Siegfried Sassoon – and because Peter Capaldi plays him in his older incarnation. As I suspect might be usual with a Davies production, it was a rather strange experience. There was a plenitude of rather stagey, mannered scenes containing numerous wealthy, attractive young gay men (plus Simon Russell Beale as Oliver Wilde’s ex Robbie Ross, a not-quite-so-young gay man) exchanging cold witticisms and demonstrating the kind of emotionally inaccessible Englishness that I associate most strongly with the products of the nation’s glorious public schools. The overall effect was alienating, without Davies even having to resort to Brechtian signage, and I suppose that can be read as how the post-war world was being processed by Siegfried, who, played as a youngish man by Jack Lowden, wanders through cocktail parties and bars in an almost passive daze. Nothing is set in the trenches — the war is present through clips from black-and-white film reels, only at all bearable to watch because of their degraded quality and juddery flow of frames, and also through the poetry. A little Owen (‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and in the final moments ‘Disabled’) is read in voice-over, and more of Sassoon’s own work, though generally it’s his meditative, nostalgic pieces that feature, not the biting satires. The closest we get otherwise is a very short flashback to a hospital ward. A blackly humorous segue from the war years to the late fifties is reached through a sepia No Man's Land as "Ghost Riders in the Sky" fills the soundscape. I spotted a couple of deviations from the historical record. First, Siegfried’s military cross is shown falling into water. Although it was thought for many decades that he threw it into the Mersey in 1917, the medal was rediscovered in an attic in 2007. It may just have been the ribbon that he chucked. Second, the film shows Wilfred Owen leaving Sassoon at Craiglockhart Hospital in order to return to the front. In fact, it was Siegfried who went back first. Owen followed the example of his hero, despite his hero telling him not to at all costs, and of course was killed in the last week of the war. Benediction isn’t a film much given to looking on the bright side. We don’t hear about Sassoon’s important work as a writer and editor after the war, or about his letter-writing or avid cricket-playing into his seventies. We don't even hear much about his extraordinary suicidal bravery on the western front. In so far as it’s about anything, it could be about a man who is made and destroyed by war. He finds his adult identity in it, he finds a cause, he starts to acknowledge his sexuality in it, and then it’s gone, along with his brother and Owen and many more. Afterwards, he’s always looking to be saved, and always looking in the wrong places. Eventually we see his Capaldi-era self convert to Roman Catholicism. Maybe that gave him some peace, but the gaunt, grim emaciation of his expression suggests not, amongst much else. Kudos to Ben Daniels who plays Rivers the psychologist with immense warmth and charisma; he only has a couple of scenes, but he really shines in them. Worth watching, though definitely not a curry night film.
  24. I place the blackest curse of hell upon my great-grandmother Mrs O' Toole. One generation closer, and I could apply for Irish citizenship.
  25. Sunak and Javid obviously coordinated their resignations - does this mean they've got someone lined up, or they're going to back each other as PM (Sunak) and Chancellor (Javid)? Sunak's letter sounds as if he does still think he might have a chance at the top job.
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